Swedish filmmaker and screenwriter Ruben Östlund’s 2014 comedy drama film ‘Force Majeure’ was one of the best films to come out that year, earning almost universal acclaim for its uncomfortably engrossing story line and clever comedic moments. Of course, being a Swedish film, the movie only enjoyed limited exposure to international audiences.
However, American filmmaking duo Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s 2020 English language remake titled ‘Downhill’ has brought the indie Swedish film into the mainstream consciousness. Boasting the comedic talents of Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, ‘Downhill’ is a pretty decent start to life for the newly christened Searchlight Pictures after Fox Studios’ acquisition by Disney in early March 2019.
If you were wondering where was Downhill filmed, read on to find out everything we know:
Downhill Filming Locations
The story of ‘Downhill’ almost entirely takes place in a snowy paradise resort somewhere in the Austrian Alps. Filming on location in Europe is a rather expensive proposition for most movies and TV shows, even those that have a considerable budget. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see some films use alternative filming locations and sets to recreate an authentic European ski lodge. However, the studio behind ‘Downhill’ chose to go the authentic route and based filming in the country of Austria itself.
Principal filming began in January of 2019 in Austria and took place both on set and on location across various venues in the Tyrol region of the Alps. A massive crew of around 160 members was involved in the process, out of which a majority were locally hired.
Principal filming for ‘Downhill’ and exterior shots was done on location in the Tyrol region of the Austrian Alps. More specifically, filming was done at the Fiss, Ischgl, and Kaunertal communities. Tyrol lies in the western part of Austria and is world-renowned for its angelic snow-covered peaks, luxury ski resorts, historic sites, and unique folk traditions.
Check out this picture of actress Julia Louis-Dreyfuss between takes posted by the official ‘Downhill’ Instagram account:
The decision to film on location in Tyrol instead of a more convenient alternative was taken early on during the production. Initially, locations such as France, Italy and British Columbia, Canada were being considered due to the ease of filming and lower costs. However, Tyrol was chosen because the filmmakers wanted a truly realistic backdrop. The decision to do so also helped the studio save on other costs as Jo Homewood, producer of production, explains, “If we shot in Canada, we’d have to spend a lot of money to make it look like Europe. With Austria, Tyrol had so many stunning options.”
Of course, filming in Austria didn’t come without its own challenges. Shooting during peak tourist season was tricky, and extra pistes (tracks) were built to facilitate the filming. Accommodation and travel for the massive crew was also a logistical issue that came with its own financial burden. However, that was partially offset by the incentives and bonuses on offer by the Austrian government to foreign filming productions.
Check out this picture of the ‘Downhill’ stars during the filming:
Julia Louis-Dreyfus & Will Ferrell are currently "in heaven" …@foxsearchlight has started filming @Downhill_Movie in #Austria (to be specific in Ischgl, Fiss & Vienna). The 🎬 is an adaption of the 🇸🇪 "Force Majeure". We hope you have a great time!
— Embassy of Austria (@AustriainUSA) January 16, 2019
The other major film production at Tyrol in the recent past was Daniel Craig’s 2015 James Bond movie ‘Spectre’.
Studio 1 Rosenhügel, Vienna, Austria
Besides Tyrol, limited filming for ‘Downhill’ also took place in Studio 1 Rosenhügel of Wein Film in the capital city of Vienna, Austria. The entire process took about two weeks in total.
Vienna is a truly historic city located near the Danube River. It is renowned for its impressive intellectual legacy having been called home by the likes of Beethoven, Sigmund Freud, Mozart, and more.
Downhill Cast and Plot
The cast of ‘Downhill’ features ‘Seinfeld’ star Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Billie Staunton, ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’ star Will Ferrell as Pete Staunton, ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ actress Miranda Otto as Charlotte, ‘Strangers’ actress Zoë Chao as Rosie, ‘The Office’ star Zach Woods as Zach, and ‘Walking on Sunshine’ actor Giulio Berruti as Guglielmo rounding up the main cast.
‘Downhill’ is a black comedy that tells the story of the Staunton family – Pete Staunton, his wife Billie Staunton, and their two kids Finn and Emerson. The Stauntons are blissfully vacationing in the exquisite Austrian Alps when a controlled avalanche strikes while the family is out for lunch at the resort restaurant. In the ensuing panic, Pete instinctively grabs his phone and makes a run for it, abandoning his wife in children. The avalanche ends up doing little to no physical damage, but the events that transpired during the avalanche force both Pete and Billie to reevaluate their relationship, as well as their priorities in life as parents.