Productive Nordic film industry despite Covid-19

Terje Gaustad

Corona could have easily left us with reruns of old series and films, but a new report shows that only 2% of film and series projects were cancelled in the Nordic countries.

A new study from Centre for Creative Industries (BI:CCI) gives a clear overview of the impact of the pandemic on the Nordic film and series production sector. The comprehensive and industry-friendly report Nordic Mission Possible-An Assessment of Covid-19’s Impact on the Nordic Audiovisual Industry and the Effectiveness of Government and Industry Measures was commissioned by Nordisk Film & TV Fond to BI:CCI.

Through an evaluation of 155 feature film, theatrical documentary and TV drama projects, a mix of case studies and qualitative surveys helped identify some key findings.

Key takeaways

  • Drama series were hit hardest by the restrictive corona measures but also gained the least from the mitigating support measures, compared to feature films and documentaries. “This reflects the nature of drama series, less dependent on subsidies, and which therefore benefitted only marginally from the Covid-specific support packages,’ says Assistant Professor Terje Gaustad who has been leading the study.
  • The higher the budgets, the more projects were vulnerable to the restrictive measures and mitigating measures less effective.
  • Projects in pre-production or production as of March 12, 2020, were impacted the most by government restrictive measures (57% of projects reported high negative impact), followed by projects not yet greenlit or just greenlit (50%) and projects in post-production or pre-release stage (8%).
  •  The restrictive measures created new challenges to producers as the number of shooting days increased by 7%, shooting periods were extended by 21%, partly resulting in the 10% average increase in production costs. Meanwhile, production revenues were cut by an estimated 17%, which had a double negative effect on the financial viability of the projects.

Gaustad, Terje IMG_6460Terje Gaustad uncover a remarkably resilient Nordic audiovisual industry. 

Nordic differences

Sweden which relied on recommendations rather than strict restrictive measures during the first wave of the pandemic, was surprisingly the most affected in the Nordics. For Gaustad, this was partly due to the high number of big budget Swedish TV series, that were in pre-production or production when Covid-19 first hit. “The Swedish case also reflects the transnational nature of the industry, with co-productions, foreign crews in the case of major international projects, that tend to limit the impact of mitigating measures from national governments or funds. That was particularly interesting,” Gaustad notes.

Iceland stood out as the country where mitigating measures had the most positive effect (50% of projects reported high impact of those measures), in sharp contrast with Finland at the lowest end (15%).

A resilient industry

Commenting on the overall findings of the report, the Project Leader stressed the remarkable resilience of the Nordic audiovisual industry. “It is rather amazing that only 2% of the 155 projects were cancelled due to the pandemic! I see this as a very positive sign for the industry, as people were able to adjust and keep their projects alive under very difficult circumstances. “

Due to the evolving situation of Covid-19 and its impact on the industry, Nordisk Film & TV Fond has asked B.I:CCI’s Endre Offerdal, to continue the research in a separate survey to be published at a later date.

Nordic Mission Possible“ was put together thanks to the support from the film institutes and producers associations in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

The report, which is openly available, was supervised by Terje Gaustad, with support from researchers Peter Booth, Endre Offerdal, Linnea Svensson, as well as Anne-Britt Gran.


Published 17. March 2021

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