Shooting in Austria

Hiring Film Crew

The Availability and Experience of Film Professionals

Austria has exceptional geographical, infrastructural and cultural traits, which has earned the attention of the international film industry in the last few years. Such Hollywood blockbusters can prove this as James Bond: Spectre, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Woman in Gold, which were all partially filmed in Austria. However, it must be said that Austria is still not a film production centre, as it does not regularly cater for international productions. When international productions do travel here, it’s mainly due to Austria’s inimitable locations. This is why during pre-production planning, a question regularly occurs: what quality and what kind of professionals are available in Austria for shooting?

Austria has exceptional geographical, infrastructural and cultural traits, which has earned the attention of the international film industry in the last few years. Such Hollywood blockbusters can prove this as James Bond: Spectre, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Woman in Gold, which were all partially filmed in Austria. However, it must be said that Austria is still not a film production centre, as it does not regularly cater for international productions. When international productions do travel here, it’s mainly due to Austria’s inimitable locations. This is why during pre-production planning, a question regularly occurs: what quality and what kind of professionals are available in Austria for shooting?

Local film industry and crew

The local film industry and the film industry of the neighbouring Germany are the ones most actively present in Austria. Collaboration between these two countries is easily facilitated due to their common language and their strong ties. While service productions provided for the German film industry technically qualify as international productions, in reality, due to the strong cultural ties between the two countries, it is rather worth placing these productions into a special category, as they are more similar to local productions than international ones.

The local film industry is outstandingly strong in the production of TV series and documentaries, therefore it is easy to find professionals for these genres who have a daily routine of working in such productions. The same is true regarding commercials, which play a significant role in the local film industry and the majority of international productions also fit into this category. Also, next to local feature films, quite a few German ones get shot in Austria, which is why we can find equipment and experienced crew members fit for this type of production as well. Furthermore, the majority of crew members have international experience; it is common that they first gain experience abroad (Germany is the number one location for this as well) and then return and find their place in the Austrian film industry. Many of them speak English fluently on a high level. There is practically no one in the crew who can not speak English at least on a communicational level.

Youtube news on red bull's racing in austria in 2016

It is useful to know that when one is assembling a film crew, it comes in handy that there are countries nearby that count as centres of the international film industry, such as Hungary or the previously mentioned Germany. Crews or any needed equipment can be brought from these countries to fill in the gaps, although it is important to mention that foreign crews have to take the Austrian film union’s rules (regarding working hours, minimum wage, etc.) into consideration when working within the borders of Austria.

National Organizations and Hubs

The state plays a significant role in Austria, with features such as a strong presence of bureaucracy, the protection of public property and public order, and a socially sensitive, caring state. In many cases, this can create obstacles for the production, for example, it may make the process of gaining permits more challenging or may lead to higher costs due to the social benefits that are mandatory to pay (13th and 14th-month wages, a significant amount of leave to which film industry workers are entitled to, even in the case of only a one day shoot, etc.).

At the same time, the state is committed to supporting the film industry. To assist it operating smoothly in this often rather complicated environment, a state film commission network has been established. Next to the national Austrian Film Commission, nearly every region of the country has its own regional film commission as well. The main tasks of these commissions are attracting international productions, presenting and making the most of the opportunities the given areas have to provide, as well as providing focused development of the local film industry. Furthermore, these film commissions provide a significant amount of help for gaining the necessary filming permits. Since their founding their assistance has made the permit acquiring processes significantly quicker and more successful.

Youtube mercedes commercial

There are two highly significant regions regarding the film industry and film commissions in Austria. These are the region of the capital city Vienna and the region of Tyrol with the city of Innsbruck as its centre. Of course, this does not mean that other provinces of Austria are not available or would not be interesting shooting locations. Countless palaces and imposing imperial buildings can be found in every region of the country, furthermore, the entire country has an outstanding infrastructure, which significantly eases the execution of any type of shoot.

Among the two highlighted centres, Vienna is richer in crew members and the availability of film equipment in general. Even a larger scale production can be easily executed thanks to Vienna’s countless rental companies and its significant crew pool. Regarding filming locations, the capital can be a very unique urban shooting location, due to its unmatched beauty in its genre, as well as due to the fact that it has not been used in many productions so far.

The entire area of Tyrol is dominated by the Alps, which is why its local film industry has become specialized in filming in mountainous conditions. Drones, helicopters and even the most diverse camera mounts and rigs are available in the region, for which professionals who can operate these equipment can be easily found as well. Regarding the cameras themselves, the lighting and other basic equipment, to a certain level Tyrol is able to cater for such needs, but the region may not be able to provide all that is needed in the case of a production that requires more complex or special equipment. This is when Austria’s previously mentioned advantage comes in handy, namely the closeness of its surrounding countries. Munich is only a two hours drive away from Innsbruck, which provides not only easy access to crew members from Germany but also to the needed equipment.

Youtube behind the scenes of Spectre

However, the strong presence of the state mentioned above is not present in every legal area. It is worth highlighting that throughout the centuries, the protection of private property in Austria has not been damaged, so many of the country’s territories and infrastructure are in private hands. Usually, it is a swift and easy process to collaborate with sole proprietors in order to gain filming permits, which makes for example the possibility to shoot on Austrian mountain roads outstandingly competitive on a global level.

Crew Unions in Austria

As previously mentioned, Austria has a strong welfare state, so it does not come as a surprise that over the years a trade union system has developed in defence of the workers’ rights in the film industry.

The Austrian Filmmakers’ Association unites the Austrian film representational unions, partially with the aim of turning Austria into an active film industry centre, as well as to improve on the culture-political, social and financial situation of Austrian workers who have jobs in film and television. Directors (ADA), actors (VÖFS), DOPs (AAC), documentary-makers ( and even makeup artists (VFMÖ) all have their own associations. These organisations also find collaboration important with each other and with similar organizations as well, since one of their main duties is to actively take part in determining the conditions of employment in the film industry. This has led them to gain a lot more influence than similar trade unions in other countries.

Next to representing the interests of the employed, they have yearly negotiations with their employers about the collective agreements protecting their rights. Everything stated in the filmmakers’ collective agreement (for example drawing rules about payment and work hours) has to be followed by any film production in Austria in all cases.

Art Department

In Vienna it is easy to find experienced and creative production designers and art directors for every production, thanks not only to the film culture, but also the country’s serious theatre and opera culture. An independent organization forms a collective for the best professionals in Austria.

In Austria there are multiple accessible prop stores. Some are completely digitalised, so that the renting of props can be done via online reservations. There are two large prop rental companies in Vienna, which can provide all sorts needed for any production, like furniture or film fakes.

Next to props, renting costumes can be organized fairly easily. For example, one of the biggest costume rental companies has 250 000 costumes from every period, ready for use. Next to being able to rent costumes, there are talented Austrian freelance costume designers, dressers and wardrobe stylists available to work with.

Youtube the showreel of daniela skala hair and makeup artist

The hair and makeup department of Austria is also of international quality which is proven by the fact that international productions filming in Austria mainly use Austrian makeup artists and hairdressers. The most acknowledged Austrian hair and makeup artist is Daniela Skala, who also works with making special makeup and has worked on films like The Grand Budapest Hotel, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and The Monuments Men.

Crew Contracts in Austria

In Austria, crew members can be employed in two different ways for a production. One of the options is to sign a contractor contract with them, while the other is to employ them via the trade unions’ previously mentioned collective agreement. The former does not have any restrictions predetermined by any organization, however, this can only be applied to crew members who take part in the shoot as some kind of creator. Therefore, this is applicable rather for crew members in leading positions, thus, this is not a sufficient contract type for the majority of the crew. Generally in the case of a contractor contract, the employee has a (higher) fixed fee as they are to provide a service. Throughout the duration of the shoot, the crew member can act quite freely, as long as they fulfil their task set in their contract.

In contrast to this, employment based on the collective agreement has a lot stricter rules. Regarding wages, the Kollektivvertrag (the German name of the document, that includes these regulations) sets a minimum wage for each position. Although this fee is not a fixed fee, which means the actual wages can differ but only in a positive way for the employee. In most cases the actual wages are in fact higher than the stated minimum wages but these wages still provide a good basis when negotiating with the crew members. Furthermore, as in this case we are talking about declared employment, the fee is also supplemented with compulsory social benefits. In addition to the wage, pension and health contributions, there are two additional benefits for those working in the film industry. One of these is the 13th and 14th-month salary to which all Austrian workers are entitled and which the employer is obliged to reimburse in proportion to the length of the employment. The other lies on a similar legal basis, which is leave compensation, aiming for the employee to be compensated for those days of leave which are lost due to the employment not being a permanent job with a normal schedule. It is worth mentioning that if the employer is able to compensate for this with a sufficient amount of days of leave provided during the duration of the production, then this fee can be omitted. However, if the duration of the project is short, then this can not be a realistic option and financial compensation is the only option.

Regarding the length and types of remuneration, the Kollektivvertrag provides 4 different options. There is a possibility to agree on a daily fee, on a weekly fee if the project is at least a week-long, on a monthly fee if the project’s duration covers multiple months, and there is also an option for a fixed-term project-based agreement.

Among these four options, the first three does not raise too many questions, however, the project-based agreement, which could be an ideal choice in many cases, requires more explanation. This type of contract is the most flexible regarding the length of the employment: the only restriction regarding the length of the project is that it has to be at least 1 week long. This is important because, for example, if the agreement settles on a weekly fee, then in the case of an 8 day-long project, two entire weeks have to be paid by the employer, while with a project-based agreement, only the exact number of days of the employment have to be paid. These project-based agreements are also calculated with a weekly fee, however, the broken week’s days get paid proportionally based on the weekly fee, which is favourable for the employer compared to the case when all the days are to be compensated on a daily basis.

Next to this, the project-based agreement is also more favourable for film productions regarding working hours. Generally, in Austria a week with 40 working hours is the norm, divided down to 5 working days with a maximum of 8 working hours a day, however, this is not enough for most film productions. Of course, even in basic situations working hours can get extended with overtime to a certain level, but it can not be expected by the employer for the employee to continuously work overtime surpassing their daily 8 hours. In contrast, project-based agreements guarantee 50 working weekly hours as default (40 normal hours and 10 hours of overtime), which also includes working on Saturdays. Furthermore, the contract can be adjusted to 60 working hours weekly, but the employee’s inclination is necessary and for the working hours not to be continuous but periodical throughout the day. However, in no case, not even during a 60 working hour week, can the daily working hours surpass 12 hours.

Regarding the calculation of the working hours, all of the contract types are unified. The basic day consists of 8 hours, after which work counts as overtime and surcharge is compulsory, 50% extra hourly rate for the first 2 overtime hours and 100% extra charge for the 3rd and 4th hours. The lunch break has to be a minimum of 30 minutes long and is not considered part of the paid working hours. However, if the daily working hours surpass 9, then the employer must provide a half an hour break which is calculated as part of the paid working hours.

As one can see, there are quite a lot of specific rules that have to be taken into consideration, when employing crew members in Austria. The aim of these rules is primarily to defend the rights of the employees, but they also defend those of the employers. These rules were set by film industry workers and are reviewed yearly to ensure that these are fair, well-founded and can also be executed in practice by both parties.

Additional Note

Austria is not the country of last-minute productions. This is not just due to the bureau deadlines (for example permit deadlines) but is also dependent on crew booking. Organizing a shoot here from one day to the other is pretty much impossible. Ideally, for a larger commercial, roughly 3-4 weeks of preparation is needed. If this amount of time is granted, then all needed permits will be guaranteed and the best available crew members will be employed.

This site uses cookies, read our policy here

Preparing download
Zipping files