Shooting in Austria

Filming in the Alps

Advice for Shooting at Locations Above 3000 Meters

The Austrian Alps always counted as one of Hollywood’s favourite shooting location. Countless super-productions have happened in this region, for example the action film XXX starring Vin Diesel. The main location was the Kaunertal glacier in Tirol. Vin Diesel, who played an extreme sportsman, although never having snowboarded previously, snowboarded himself in the majority of the scenes without a stuntman.


Winter reigns 365 days a year in the areas of the regal Austrian Alps that are situated above 3000 m. Therefore, these beautiful, snow-covered peaks are home to endless ski slopes. These snow-capped mountains provide an overwhelming view, regardless of the season - no wonder they are some of the most popular filming locations in Central Europe.


The Alps is one of the great mountain ranges in Europe, which spans 7 countries (Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, France). Austria is largely located in the the Eastern Alps, which are full of valleys, created by rivers like the Inn, the Enns, the Mura, and Drava. The river valleys are considered to be important transportation routes, for example the Inn River originates in the Swiss Engadin and flows through Innsbruck, the provincial capital of Tyrol, on its 510 km route to the Danube. Located in the Heart of the Alps, Tyrol offers an international airport facilitating fast and uncomplicated flights, that mean great access to production facilities and to airports in Munich, Zurich and Vienna.

The Austrian Alps always counted as one of Hollywood’s favourite shooting location. Countless super-productions have happened in this region, for example the action film XXX starring Vin Diesel. The main location was the Kaunertal glacier in Tirol. Vin Diesel, who played an extreme sportsman, although never having snowboarded previously, snowboarded himself in the majority of the scenes without a stuntman.


Winter reigns 365 days a year in the areas of the regal Austrian Alps that are situated above 3000 m. Therefore, these beautiful, snow-covered peaks are home to endless ski slopes. These snow-capped mountains provide an overwhelming view, regardless of the season - no wonder they are some of the most popular filming locations in Central Europe.


The Alps is one of the great mountain ranges in Europe, which spans 7 countries (Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, France). Austria is largely located in the the Eastern Alps, which are full of valleys, created by rivers like the Inn, the Enns, the Mura, and Drava. The river valleys are considered to be important transportation routes, for example the Inn River originates in the Swiss Engadin and flows through Innsbruck, the provincial capital of Tyrol, on its 510 km route to the Danube. Located in the Heart of the Alps, Tyrol offers an international airport facilitating fast and uncomplicated flights, that mean great access to production facilities and to airports in Munich, Zurich and Vienna.

Grossglockner, The Road to Austria’s Highest Peak

Tyrol is known first and foremost for its flowering pastures, but also the highest peak in Austria is actually found in this region. The High Tauen mountain range is home to the 3798 meter high Grossglockner, which is at the foot of the largest glacier in the eastern Alps, the Pasterze, whose 9 km stretch can be traversed on the “Glacier train.”


One of the most beautiful scenic routes in the High Tauen is the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse. The 48.3 km long alpine road leads to the Brücke near Salzburg from the Carinthian Heiligenblut. Its 36 bends, and 2504 meter range in elevation provide exceptional natural scenery. The road reaches an elevation of about 2000 meters at its halfway point, but the road is wide, well-paved, and considered to be very safe as it usually slopes at around only 10%. Thanks to its fantastic view and great driving conditions, the Hochalpenstrasse is not only a popular tourist destination, but a popular filming location as well.

The Grossglockner High Alpine Road, leading through the scenic routes is a truly popular filming location

One of the negatives of this area is the erratic weather, which can cause poor visibility due to fog. Planning ahead can be difficult because, for example, it might be pouring rain on the Salzburg side while the sun is shining on the Carinthian side. It is important to note that as the road progresses, more frequent curvature in the road, and changes in elevation can complicate the filming process, unless helicopter or drones are being used, but after the Hochtor tunnel is crossed at Großglocknerstrasse’s highest point, one will find themselves in the more mild Carinthian conditions.

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The route encompasses 1,800 square kilometers of Europe's second largest national park: The Hohe Tauern National Park. There are extraordinary shooting locations in this area outside of the Grossglockner, for example the region’s gently sloping alpine meadows, rock formations, and waterfalls, which all provide an exceptional visual experience.

Krimml waterfalls With a total height of 380 meters (1,247 feet), the Krimml Waterfalls, located in the Hohe Tauern National Park are the highest waterfall in Austria

Since the park is located in the Rauris Valley, weather conditions are unpredictable, and sometimes characteristics of all four seasons can be felt during one day. If there is not much air movement in the valley then it feels like summer, but if one goes up to an elevation of 3000 meters, hurricane force winds may be experienced.

KaprunStauseen6 The 107m high and 500m long Mooserboden dam, located in 2036m altitude in the Hohe Tauern

The panoramic road is open from late May to early October, filming in the Hohe Tauern National Park is only possible in the presence of security personnel.

The Hintertux Glacier, where there is snow even in summer

Austria is the cradle of Alpine Skiing and Skiing is the national sport of Austria, and the Austrian Alps are home to over 7200 kilometers worth of ski slopes serviced by 260 chairlift companies. Late December to late january is the coldest time of year, when is not uncommon to see 20cm of snow even in the valleys. The best conditions for skiing are in February, and by the end of the months there is more and more sunshine, which causes most of the snow to start melting by March. At elevations above 3000 meters, temperature stay at around 0 degrees, and snow can be found year round.

The Hintertux Glacier is home to one of the most popular ski resorts in Austria, because thanks to its 3250 meter high location, it provides opportunity for year-round skiing. In 2009 it was named the "world's best glacier skiing location." Out of the total of 86 kilometers of ski runs, 23 km are easy runs, 47 km are intermediate, and 16 km are advanced. 18 km of the runs are available for skiing even in the summer. These runs are service by 21 heavy-duty lifts and gondolas.


An interesting feature of the mountain is the “Gletscherbus,” a cable car stable enough to transport people to the 3250 meter peak even in the worst weather conditions. The Gletscherbuses run on three routes of double-track cables, usually traveling around 1413 meters in 5:25 minutes, carrying 3281 persons per hour, at a speed of 6m / s (21,6km/h and 13,42miles/h), and each have a payload of 4220 kg. The cable cars run from 8:15 AM to 4:30 PM.

Hintertux’s latest attraction is a natural ice palace. Not far from the highest point of the glacier, at 3,250 meters, is the Gefrorenen Wand (Frozen Wall) lookout, from which a natural ice cave can be seen. In addition to the many named (crystal chamber, an ice chapel) ice formations, the 15 meter high ice palace is the most popular attraction.


In 2012, another Hollywood super-production was executed on the Hintertux Glacier; it was for the film Snowpiercer, starring Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton and Ed Harris. Thankfully, the weather conditions were perfect for filming and the local teams were brilliant at assisting the film crew’s work.

Dangers in the Alps

The Austrian Alps are known equally for their danger as for their beauty. The thinner, cleaner areas of the atmosphere allow more UV rays through, which are then reflected by the snow, and are just as strong in the fog. There is a high risk of rockfall in rocky regions of the Alps. In milder weather, the sun melts the frozen rockwall, which will freeze again at night, causing the walls to weaken over time.


Wind in the snow covered areas can create conices, which sometimes stretch out 6 to 8 meters, and can easily collapse. Cravasses make traversing glaciers difficult, and it can happen that larger detours must be taken to avoid them.

Avalanches pose the greatest danger on the ski slopes. In Europe, avalanche risk is rated on this five tier scale: 1 (Low) Snow is generally very stable. 2 (Moderate) On some steep slopes the snow is only moderately stable. Elsewhere it is very stable. 3 (Considerable) On many steep slopes the snow is only moderately or weakly stable. 4 (High) On most steep slopes the snow is not very stable. 5 (Very High)- The snow is generally unstable. The Avalanche Warning Service of Tyrol gives daily information about the snow situation and the dangerous areas, so that the mountain rescue teams can be ready to activate themselves without further adue.

Filming Equipment - Drone Regulation

There are a number of useful accessories that can ease the difficulties of shooting in the Alps, such as car and helicopters rigs, or drones, which are easily obtainable these days.

In Austria there are many organisations and equipment renting companies, that have professionals with good English skills and with their expertise can offer a lot of help to the pre- and postproduction phases as well.

Austria has different rules and regulations for different sizes and types of drones.

Authorities group drones into two categories. The maximum weight of drones that can be used for filming is 150kg and can only fly within sight and no higher than 150m. Before using the equipment, it has to be registered at AustroControl (the air authority), who after doing a technical check-up on the drone, give the necessary licence to allow its operation.

During the check-up needed for the licence, based on their weight and flighting-area, they rate the first class drones into four categories. Therefore they determine what terms and conditions the drones of a given weight have to meet when flying over a given area (categorized by the extent of the areas cultivation).

Generally speaking, drones used for filming are usually between 25 and 150 kgs. For flying a drone over an uncultivated area, one needs to give the authorities the following: a description of the nameless airplane with information about its controls and a photo of it. So that the reliability of its functioning can be stated, verification of the insurance and the pilot's official certificate complete with his or her ID photograph is also needed. But if this same drone is to fly over a populated area, one also has to give a noise report, as well as to show the pilot’s permit, who needs to be verified with a photo ID, as well as a medical certificate and proof of his knowledge of air traffic regulations.

Apart from this, of course, general conditions of use must be followed, for example, drone use in densely populated, industrial areas, and public programs or demonstrations is strictly forbidden, and any damage caused is the responsibility of the machine’s owner. Nowadays more and more filmmakers are using drones instead of helicopters, because it is simpler and cheaper. It is important to keep in mind though, that the use of unreported, unpermitted drones will have the consequences of being reported to the police and a fine up to 22.000 euros.

James Bond’ Mission in Sölden

The ski season reaches its end by April in most areas, but  the Alps are still perfect for countless sporting activities, for instance rock climbing, paragliding, canyoning, rafting, canoeing, and kayaking. Since conditions are snowy well into April, ski resorts become great filming locations after the tourist season is over. In the Otzal Alps, where 2015’s James Bond: Spectre was filmed, is the largest mountain group in the eastern Alps due to the Wildspitze (3774 m) and Similaun (3607 m), and remains snowy throughout the year. Multiple sites of the Ötztal Alps were highlighted in the James Bond film’s a 15-day shoot.

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A chase scene was shot on a 16km stretch of the Ötztaler Gletscherstrasse, spanning from Sölden to the Ötztal glaciers (1377-2800m). A house was constructed In Obertilliach, on the Golzentipp Ski Resort, which was later destroyed in the scene.


Filming the car chase was very difficult because there was only one road leading down the mountain, it had frequent and extreme tuns in it, and it was covered in ice and snow. The crew worked with a total of 9 cameras, one of which was rigged onto a helicopter, and another to a car, and 7 which were strategically placed in the terrain. In wooded areas, these cameras were run between trees on cables. 30 ski runs, and the road and tunnels leading to the glaciers were closed down for the scene.

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The glass, cube-shaped Ice Q restaurant, situated on top of the Gaislachkogl, played a key role in the film as a futuristic private clinic. The restaurant was closed to the public for an entire month due to the production. Numerous aerial shots were taken from a helicopter as well.

These action sequences took lots of logistical planning, and the the cast and crew’s accommodations were a big part of this, partly due to discretion, and partly due to accessibility. During the filming of the chase scene, the close to 600 person cast and crew stayed at the Almwellness- Hotel in Tuffbad, and the film’s star, Daniel Craig stayed at the Bergland Hotel in Sölden.


During filming at Lake Altaussee, the 300 person crew stayed at the Hotel Seevilla. The lake and the town, which is notable for its imperial era villas, provided locations for numerous scenes in the film.


A fun fact is that back in the day Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond studied for a while in Tyrol, in Kitzbühel to be more precise, and it was here where he learnt to ski.

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