James Bond and the film land Tirol

From the first moving pictures to the latest adventure of James Bond: Tirol is great cinema. In 1905 the British Frank Ormiston Smith came to Tirol to make cinematographic recordings for lectures in England. In 2015, one of the world's largest film production companies was a guest in Tirol and shot scenes for the 24th adventure of the British secret agent with the code name 007.he origins of the film land Tirol go back a long way – back to the days when pictures were 'learning to walk'.

In between lies over a century of film history. Since 1998, the Cine Tirol Film Commission has been adding a further chapter to this history and has so far brought film crews from the USA, Great Britain, India, China, Russia, Canada, Italy, Germany and many other countries to Tirol. In 2022 over 350 million people watched moving and moving pictures from Tirol on television, in cinemas and on YouTube.

In 2015, Filmland Tirol reaches another highlight: The film crew of the James Bond film „SPECTRE“ shot among other places in the well-known Tyrolean ski resort of Sölden and in the East Tyrolean mountain village of Obertilliach. More than 100 million people worldwide watched SPECTRE in cinemas. A close look at the film history of Tirol reveals that this success is no coincidence. The beginnings of Filmland Tirol go back a long way – to the time when pictures learned to walk.

1896 – The first cinematic attempts to walk

Only one year after the first public film screenings of the Lumière brothers in Paris at the end of 1895, the first short films, so-called „living photographs“, were also shown in Innsbruck. As early as 1900, a so-called cinematograph was used to film and project scenes of a Tyrolean folk dance – probably a „Schuhplattler“. This unfortunately lost film is therefore considered the first film production „made in Tirol“.

In 1905 the British Frank Ormiston Smith came to Tirol to make cinematographic recordings for lectures in England. One year later the then „Tiroler Landesverband für Fremdenverkehr“ (Tyrolean Tourist Board) commissioned him to make bioscopic photographs of Tirol which were shown in Germany and England. These films bore names like „The Arlberg in Summer and Winter“ and „Innsbruck’s Life on a Market Day„.

The 1913 film „Speckbacher“ about the Tyrolean uprising under Andreas Hofer is considered the oldest surviving feature film shot in Tirol.

1925 – First milestones in Tyrolean film history

A milestone in Tyrolean film history was the British-German co-production „The Mountain Eagle“ in 1925 in Obergurgl and Umhausen. It was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, who became aware of these filming locations in the Ötztal valley through a postcard. Unfortunately, this film is also lost, only diary entries of the director, twelve photographs and reviews prove the fact of the shooting in Tirol. Today, „The Mountain Eagle“ is considered the most sought-after film in the world.

In 1930/31 Arnold Fanck produced the film „Der weiße Rausch“ in St. Anton and St. Christoph am Arlberg. More than 40 skiers were among the cast, including many of the most famous racers of the time. His cinema success in the major European cities was fundamental in the implementation of a hitherto unknown leisure activity into a popular sport and an industry that is now powerful worldwide: winter sports.

1946 – Films in the post-war period

The film land Tirol experienced an amazing new start after the horror and misery of the Second World War: the small village of Thiersee in the Tyrolean Unterland near Kufstein became the centre of Austrian post-war film from 1946 to 1952, the Passionshaus was the most modern film studio in the whole country at the time. 18 national and international feature films were made in Tirol during this period, including „Winter Melody„, „Wonderkid“ and „Das doppelte Lottchen„.

Also in other regions of Tirol some international film productions made guest appearances during this time. Two of them were „The Gamma People“ 1955 by John Gilling with Paul Douglas and Eva Bartok in Imst and in 1966 „La strega bruciata viva“ directed by Lucchino Visconti with Silvana Mangano and Annie Girardot in Kitzbühel.

1969 and 1987 – Years of international success

In 1969 the film teams of two internationally very well-known films were shooting in Tirol. „The Last Valley“ with Michael Caine, Omar Sharif and Florinda Bolkan, directed by James Clavell, found suitable locations in the Gschnitz Valley and showed a moving story in the times of the Thirty Years‘ War. „Downhill Racer“ was filmed mainly in Kitzbühel and St. Anton am Arlberg. For this feature film directed by Michael Ritchie, Robert Redford, Gene Hackman and Camilla Sparv were acting in front of the camera.

With the French film production „The Bear“ directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, the film land Tirol once again entered the international stage in 1987. East Tirol’s mountains around Lienz were the setting for the filming of this worldwide success. Annaud was so impressed by the filming locations in East Tirol, but also by the friendliness and helpfulness of the locals, that he paid special tribute to the film land Tirol with the following statement: „Tirol offers the efficiency of Germany, the beauty of Switzerland and the charm of Italy.“

1998 – Professional location service and financial investment

Since the founding of the Cine Tirol Film Commission as a joint initiative of the province of Tirol and the Tirol Tourist Board in 1998, production grants and professional location services have resulted in around 2,000 film productions in Tirol. Highlights of these productions include feature films such as „James Bond 007 – SPECTRE“, „Ein ganzes Leben“, „Die Theorie von Allem“, „Woodwalkers“, „Downhill“, „Madison“, „Märzengrund“, „Luzifer“, „Klammer – Chasing the Line“, „Eddie the Eagle“, „Point Break“, „Snowpiercer“, „The Chalet Girl“, „Stars in the Winter Sky“, „As it is in Heaven“, „The Edukators“, „Last Holiday“, „In 3 Tagen bist du tot 2“, „xXx – Triple X“, „The Architect“, „März“, „The Mystery of the Snowqueen“, „Rise up and Dance! „, „Extreme Ops“, „1809 – Die Freihet des Adlers“, „Lapislazuli – Im Auge des Bären“, „Bergkristall“, „Vollgas“, „2 Kinogesicher“, „Vals“, „Home is here“, „Die Skitour“, „Helden in Tirol“, „Flashback“. Even Bollywood has discovered Tyrol’s mountain world: 86 Indian film productions have found their way there so far, including „Yuvvraaj“, „Tiger Zinda Hai“ and „Saaho“.

In addition, numerous television productions such as „Der Schandfleck“, „Schwabenkinder“, „Franz und Anna“, „Gefährliche Gefühle“, „Gipfelsturm“, „K2“, „Die Lawine“, „Crazy Canucks“ and „Das Weihnachtsekel“, „Der letzte Kornzeuge“, „Ausgelöscht“, „Gletscherblut“, „Der Bär ist los“, „Die Hüttenwirtin“, „Die Wanderhure“, „Die Hebamme – Auf Leben und Tod“, „Die Aufnahmeprüfung“, „Der Meineidbauer“, „Stille“ and „Fremder Feind“ were produced as well as TV serials and series („Tatort“, „Landkrimi Tirol“, „Stadtkomödie Tirol“, „Im Tal des Schweigens“, „Wilder Kaiser“, „Da wo die Berge sind“, „Der Metzger“, „Team Alpin“, „Der Bergdoktor“, „SOKO Kitzbühel“, „Euer Ehren“, „Aus die Maus“, „Pardes Mein Hai Mera Dil“, „Powder Park“), the streaming productions „KITZ“, „Woman of the Death“ and „Your Christmas or Mine 2“ as well as documentary films such as „Glockner – Der schwarze Berg“, „Im Reich des Steinadlers“, „Der Inn“, „Schnee“, „Streif – One Hell of a Ride“ and „STAMS“. In addition, short films by mostly young filmmakers from Austria and abroad such as „Excuse Me, I’m looking for the Ping-Pong room and My Girlfriend“, but also world-leading brands shot commercials in Tirol, such as BMW, Porsche, Jaguar, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Opel, Suchard, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Sony Ericsson, Tchibo, Karstadt, Napapijri, Scania, Shell, Garmin, Samsung and Telekom. Music videos such as „Perfect“ by Ed Sheeran, „Ohne Dich“ by Rammstein, „Parasol Peak“ by Manu Delago, „L’ultima notte al mondo“ by Tiziano Ferro and „Enni soni“ from the Bollywood film „Saaho“ established Tirol as location for international vocal artists.

Tirol developed successfully with its (high) alpine film locations and today defends its position as the most well-known and popular film country in the Alps.

2015 – James Bond came (again) to Tirol

Ian Flemming, the later creator of the novel character James Bond, moved from England to Kitzbühel in 1927. There he attended a private school run by a former British secret service employee and his wife. Years later Flemming was a spy for the British Naval Intelligence Service and wrote his first spy novel „Casino Royale“ in 1952. The rest is history: James Bond became the most famous secret agent in the world.

2015, after more than 50 years Flemming’s novel hero James Bond returns to the Tyrolean roots of his inventor. In his usual spectacular way, Bond chases his adversaries in the Ötztal ski resort of Sölden and the East Tyrolean mountain village of Obertilliach. Two locations that are perfect for an adventure.

007 in Sölden

The highest road in the Alps. A mountain railway station made of curved steel ribs. A summit restaurant in ice cube design. In a word: Sölden. In this ski resort in the Ötztal Alps, the James Bond makers‘ hunt for the perfect location for one of the action scenes in the latest James Bond film came to an end.

SPECTRE“ – „Ghost“, was supposed to top „Skyfall„, co-producer Gregg Wilson wanted to deliver a „completely crazy sequence“, as he said on set. And after the work was done at 3,048 meters above sea level, he enthused: „It’s going to be spectacular. Tirol had everything we needed to shoot such sequences.“ Dennis Gassner, production designer and location scout, was pleased to be able to continue the tradition of the typical, exciting Bond scenes: „And what could be more exciting than being on top, on top of the world?

The fact that the agent came to the Gaislachkogel, however, is mainly due to the commitment of Jakob Falkner. The boss of the Söldner Bergbahnen had noticed at an event in April 2014 that the production company was considering Sölden as a film location. From then on, Falkner’s very personal mission 007 began: to bring the 24th Bond film to the local mountain world. Falkner gave it the code name „B 24“.

Through the Austrian film commission „Location Austria“, contact point for international film productions and shooting in Austria, he established contact with the production company. And travelled – on behalf of his tourism colleagues – to London. The task: „To signal our definite interest to those in charge by coming to them.“ His arguments: „The place is easily accessible, the logistics are excellent, the panorama is magnificent“.

An imponderability had to be accepted, however: In winter, the glacier road is usually closed. Danger of avalanches. No tourists would be exposed to this danger, therefore no Daniel Craig.
Back in Sölden, Falkner gathered a small team around him, nobody else was allowed to know about the B 24 mission. A little later, it was officially announced what the media were already speculating about: Sölden would become a Bond location. In December 2014 the film crew made test shots. Falkner only had to make one condition: „Safety first!“ But the road could be opened. So in January 2015 the camera was rolling for the „first unit“ with main actor Daniel Craig, Bond girl Léa Seydoux and „Mr. Hinx“ Dave Bautista, in February the filming continued with stuntmen.

After three weeks of total shooting, car chases and shootings in front of the white summit scenery were in the can. Some of the action scenes from the original location were completed in London: in a replica of Ice Q.

Obertilliach: 687 inhabitant plus a secret agent.

Obertilliach is also a shooting location of „SPECTRE„. The film crew travelled to the community in East Tirol with snow, a sports plane and a barn. The inhabitants of Obertilliach christened the Stadl „Bond House“. It had been built on the upper edge of a slope in the Golzentipp ski area. A total of four locations in Obertilliach were filmed for „SPECTRE„. For the scenes in and around the „Bond House“ and on the associated ski slope, the main actor Daniel Craig was also on location for three days in mid-January 2015.

Another location is the town centre of Obertilliach. „Because of the historic village centre, the film crew even came to us“, says mayor Matthias Scherer. Since March 2014 he knew that Obertilliach was on the shortlist. Soon it was said: If the municipality agreed, the production company would not even bother to look for alternatives. Scherer seized the opportunity: „It was clear to me right away – I had to take the chance. A shoot like this is like winning the lottery for our tourist resort“. The preparatory work began at the beginning of September 2014.

In mid-January 2015, filming took place on the piste, for which the lift had to be closed for two days. It was also spectacular in a wooded area next to the Golzentipp ski area. A sports plane was chased through there. „In the winter before, a lane was cut in order to lay the power lines, which had repeatedly failed due to the snow load, into the ground,“ says Scherer about the preparatory work – not planned for the shooting, but in retrospect very practical.

An anecdote on the verge of shooting: The owners of a house in the immediate vicinity of the Bond-Stadl in Obertilliach provided the entire film crew and also the security team with homemade sweet delicacies and invited especially the main actors to warm up in their parlour. „Bad guy“ Dave Bautista had once made himself particularly comfortable and then fell asleep on the sofa with the cat.

The mayor of Obertilliach, Mr. Scherer, draws a similar conclusion like the responsible persons in Sölden: The work was very pleasant and much less formal and uncomplicated than one would have expected. Initial reservations on the part of the village community were soon dispelled, the mayor emphasizes, adding: „Also because the production company made an effort to accommodate the neighboring residents. It was all very professional.“ And probably a little bit exciting for Obertilliach at the end. A British secret agent in an East Tirolean community of 687 souls – that’s just not an everyday occurrence.

Cine Tirol and its partners enabled James Bond’s 24th mission

Thanks to the excellent cooperation between Location Austria and FISA-Filmstandort Austria, the communities, tourism associations and mountain railways of the Tirolean towns as well as the province of Tirol and Cine Tirol, James Bond made his first stop in Tirol and had his high alpine adventures here.

Facts about the James Bond shoot in Tirol
• EUR 8,9 million production-related expenditure in Tirol (accommodation, meals, transport, rents, fees and miscellaneous)
• 31 shooting days in Tirol
• 30.000 overnight stays by cast and crew in Tirol
• 600 film-makers in the international crew
• 250 film-makers from Austria and Tirol
• 210 suppliers from Austria and Tirol
• 100 million people wordwide saw „SPECTRE“ in cinemas.