„Downhill“: The Filming Locations
© 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
In „Downhill“, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell play a married couple who head to the Austrian Alps for the „ski holiday of their lives“. However, things take an unexpected twist when an avalanche suddenly races towards the terrace where the family is sitting. Instead of protecting wife and children, father Pete grabs his phone and runs. This split-second decision sets off an emotional avalanche which threatens to tear the family apart.
Behind the scenes, things were less dramatic. On location in Tirol, the cast and crew were blown away by the landscape which formed the backdrop for the movie. Star Will Ferell said to Jennifer Aniston on ellentube:
It just is one of the more beautiful places ever…
See for yourself:
The ski pistes and filming locations
Almost all the action on the slopes was filmed in the Silvretta Arena resort above Ischgl, with Piste 6A featuring the most. With 239 kilometres of slopes, the Silvretta Arena offers plenty of options for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. This, plus the snow-sure conditions, perfect infrastructure, mountain huts and event experience, were all important factors in the decision to film in Ischgl.
During filming one gondola on the Silvrettabahn (A1) cable car was reserved for the film crew only. Once filming was complete, a plaque was installed on the gondola as a reminder of its role in making the film. Visitors to Ischgl keen to ride the gondola in which Dreyfus and Ferrells once sat should keep their eyes open for cabin number 64s.
The Silvrettabahn cable car in Ischgl © TVB Paznaun-Ischgl
The scenes on the chairlift – including the one where Billie and Rosie talk about Pete’s reaction to the avalanche – were shot on the Nachtweidebahn chairlift, which offers fantastic views of the famous Idalp.
The Nachtweidebahn gives access to almost all the pistes where the skiing scenes were shot.
Nachtweidebahn Chairlift © Silvrettaseilbahn AG
The cable car top station
The top station of the Fimbabahn cable car was the backdrop for the scene where the members of the Stanton family clip into their skis and study the piste map. The Fimbabahn transports guests in just 15 minutes from Idalp, an area at the base of the resort used for the Top of the Mountain concerts at the end of each season and easter, up into the resort. At Idalp you will also find the Alpenhaus, a state-of-the-art mountain restaurant offering fine food and breathtaking views.
Idalp with the Alpenhaus restaurant on the left. © TVB Paznaun – Ischgl
The photo point
The scene where the family photo is taken („Poles up!“) was filmed at the top of the Schönjoch lift in the ski resort Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis. The modern building in the background is the top station of the cable car, also home to the BergDiamant restaurant with its sunny terrace, hearty Tirolean food and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
On location at the top of the Schönjoch lift in Fiss. (c) 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved, Photo by Jaap Buitendijk © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Photo by Jaap Buitendijk
This spot is a popular setting for photos, though unlike in the film there is no photographer on hand to take the snap for you.
The Beast – the name given in the film to one of the resort’s most challenging runs – is, in fact, nothing of the kind. The scenes on this seemingly fear-inducing slope were, in fact, shot on the easy blue piste 2B. It can be accessed using the Nachtweidebahn cable car in the Silvretta Arena. The piste which Pete points to on his map is a different one: ski route 39 (red, intermediate). It can be accessed using the Gampenbahn chairlift. Check out the piste map of Ischgl to see both in more detail.
Ski route 39 can be accessed using the Gampenbahn chairlift and leads from Palinkopf down to Fimba (screenshot from interative piste map) ©
There are many ways to enjoy skiing in Tirol – but heliskiing is not one of them. The film crew had to get special permission to use a helicopter in the area around the top of the Kaunertal Glacier Road. In the background you can see the Gepatschferner, a glacier in the Kaunertal Valley.
Filming a scene near the Kaunertal Glacier Road. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Photo by Jaap Buitendijk The indoor scenes
The indoor scenes
The indoor scenes were also filmed in Tirol, including those in the hotel, at the ski hire shop and, of course, in the office of the piste manager of Ischgl – a famous scene which features in the official trailer.
During their holiday, the Stanton family stayed at the „Schlosshotel“, which in real life is actually the Schlosshotel Fiss, a five-star residence in the resort of Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis near Ischgl. It is located directly next to the slopes of the family-friendly Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis resort with 214 kilometres of pistes.
Ski In – Ski Out: The Schlosshotel Fiss. © Schlosshotel Fiss – Mike Rabensteiner
All the indoor scenes were filmed at the Schlosshotel Fiss. These include the room scenes and the dinner with friends as well as the scenes in the corridor, at the bar and in the lobby.
Inside the Schlosshotel Fiss. © Schlosshotel Fiss – Mike Rabensteiner
Part of the crew even stayed here during filming. We can’t tell you who it was, but suffice to say they enjoyed it so much that they booked a holiday there for all the family.
The view from the Schlosshotel Fiss. © Schlosshotel Fiss – Mike Rabensteiner
For the scenes in the elevator, the film crew was on the lookout for something special – and found it at the Hotel Gramaser in Ischgl. This hotel is located in the pedestrianised centre of the resort and is well-known for its excellent wine cellar.
The Hotel Gramaser in Ischgl. © Huber Webmedia – Philipp Huber
The ski hire shop
Hiring winter sports equipment is a good alternative to bringing your own and means you can always be sure of having the top gear each year. The Stanton family got their equipment from Sport Zangerl, a hire shop in the centre of Ischgl just a short walk from the cable cars. The shop offers not only winter sports gear to hire but also a selection of clothing and accessories.
Sport Zangerl in Ischgl © WEST Werbeagentur, Imst
The village tunnel
The village tunnel in Ischgl is also known as „Ischgl’s Hall of Fame“: the walls of the 130-metre-long tunnel are decorated with the names and photos of all the stars who have performed at the Top of the Mountains concerts over the years. A walkway in the tunnel takes guests from the pedestrianised area in the centre of the resort to the Fimbabahn.
The village tunnel in Ischgl. © TVB Paznaun – Ischgl
The office of the Ischgl piste manager
The scenes in which Billie and Pete complain to the piste manager about the avalanche being detonated above the resort were filmed in the office of the ski patrol at the Heliport Idalp. In the background you can see the two eight-man chairlifts Flimjochbahn (B2) and Idjochbahn (B3).
Billie and Pete Stanton in the office of the Heliport Idalp. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Photo by Jaap Buitendijk
Creating avalanches within a ski resort is, in fact, common practice in order to keep skiers and snowboarders on the slopes safe. However, this only happens when the pistes and lifts are closed. If you are keen to find out more about avalanche protection in the Alps, check out our blog about the avalanche safety commission in the Nordkette Mountains above Innsbruck. We spoke to the main in charge of keeping skiers, boarders and the population of Innsbruck safe during the winter: www.blog.tirol
The outdoor scenes
The outdoor scenes away from the ski slopes were filmed in Ischgl, Fiss and along the Kaunertal Glacier Road.
The road to Ischgl
The road to Ischgl is pretty twisty itself, but for the film it was decided to use the spectacular Kaunertal Glacier Road. A sign indicating the start of the village of Ischgl was temporarily installed on a section of road called „Schnapsloch“.
The “Schnapsloch” section of the Kaunertal Glacier Road. © Kaunertaler Gletscher
The village centre
All of the outdoor scenes in the village were filmed in Ischgl. The pedestrianised area in the centre of the resort has not only a wide selection of fine-dining resturants, cafés and spors shops but also a number of hip après-ski locations. It is this mix which makes Ischgl so unique.
The Alpine Coaster
The scene on the Alpine Coaster was shot in Fiss – specifically on the Schneisenfeger in Fiss, a mini rollercoaster open both in summer and winter. There is a photo point which will take your picture as you whizz past. The perfect souvenir!
The Schneisenfeger mini rollercoaster in Serfaus. © Andreas Kirschner
The restaurants and huts
Tirol is famous for its warm hospitality. This applies not only to the hotels and chalets in the region but also to its restaurants and huts. From traditional wooden lodges to eye-catching modern designs, the styles are as diverse as the food itself. We have put together a blog with „12 Must-Eat Foods in Tirol„.
The film’s key scene, where the avalanche races towards the Stanton family, was filmed on the terrace of the Wonnealm hut in Fiss. The views from the terrace are spectacular, though the actual footage of the avalanche was added in post-production. The Wonnealm is a hut located next to the Schönjochabfahrt piste in the resort of Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis. It is famous for its rich dishes made from game hunted in the surrounding forests.
The Alpenhaus is located at Idalp in Ischgl and is known for its excellent food. Head chef Christian Törf is awarded with one toque and regularly welcomes international celebrities.
A well-deserved drink at the Alpenhaus. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved, Photo by Jaap Buitendijk
The Seealm Hög
Directly next to the Alpine Coaster in Fiss is the Seealm Hög. This cosy hut next to the piste is popular in summer thanks to the nearby adventure play area. While the kids are exploring, the adults can enjoy the delicious food ranging from traditional meat-based dishes to vegetarian and vegan delicacies. The furry figures you can see in the background during the film are Murmli & Berta, the friendly mascots of the Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis resort.
The Seealm Hög hut in Serfaus. © Seilbahn Komperdell Serfaus
The après-ski bar
Relax. If you can. That is Ischgl’s motto – and you can see why. After a long day out and about on the slopes, there is no better way to relax than with a cool drink at one of the resort’s many après-ski locations. Schatzi Bar, Kuhstall, Trofana Alm and the Champagnerlounge are just a few of the 26 après-ski hotspots in Ischgl.
Aprés-ski in Ischgl © TVB Paznaun – Ischgl
If you have any questions about a specific scene in the film, please get in touch with us. Simply leave a comment and we will get back to you with the info you want! 😊