Basque TV Gets Boost from New Producers Program at San Sebastian’s Tabakalera

Jamie Lang
·4-min read

San Sebastian’s Tabakalera, a former tobacco factory repurposed as a hub of cultural activity for the Basque region with close ties to the city’s film festival, has launched the 2deo Serieak, an ambitious, international program developed to tutor, guide and support projects from TV series creators, producers and scriptwriters. The new initiative is backed by 2deo, Tabakalera’s audiovisual laboratory, and promoted by the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa in collaboration with the San Sebastian Festival.

For the Tabakalera, the program represents a further step forward in the promotion and dissemination of Spanish, and more specifically Basque culture and talent, perhaps best exemplified by the recent global success of HBO Europe’s “Patria,” the company’s first Spanish-language original which can now be seen HBO Max.

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The fact that the program welcomes international projects is another step in the creation of a cosmopolitan cultural industry hub in San Sebastian based around the Tabakalera, which hosts the San Sebastian Festival offices, its Elias Querejeta Zine Eskola and Filmoteca.

The program also strengthens San Sebastian Film Festival’s year-round presence, and comes as it was named the third most important cultural initiative in Spain by the Culture Observatory at the Fundación Contemporánea.

“2deo Serieak compliments all the programs that we are developing and focuses on the opportunity that has opened up in recent years with new channels and platforms,” said Tabakalera director Edurne Ormazabal at the program’s announcement, held live at the cultural center and broadcast locally on Basque TV.

Regional deputy for economic promotion Jabier Larrañaga added, “For Basque works to find space in the audiovisual and content world, it is necessary to have an area where Basque creators can develop their projects.”

Open to newcomers and experienced veterans alike, projects from all formats and genres are encouraged to apply, so long as they are developed with a global audience in mind. Projects need not be from the Basque Country, but local productions and co-productions will be given special consideration during the selection process, and at least one of the finalists must have originated from the region.

“The objective of the program is to positively influence the quality and viability of the selected projects, and to contribute to series’ momentum in the Basque Country and their eventual internationalization,” organizers explained in a televised press conference out of San Sebastián.

Each of the selected projects will receive development funding of €6,000 ($7,300) but perhaps more importantly will be assigned one of three world class mentors to accompany them in the development of their project. From April through September, producers Aitor Gabilondo, Christine Vachon and Xabier Berzosa will each hold a series of online meetings with the series’ teams, offering screenplay analysis, rewriting tips, aiding in the planning of production and laying out a plan for eventual domestic and global distribution.

In 1995, Vachon co-founded Killer Films, an New York-based indie label which has produced more than 60 independent films including two Oscar-nominated Todd Haynes features in “Far From Heaven” and “Carole,” and Kimberly Peirce’s 1999 Oscar-winner “Boys Don’t Cry.” In TV, Vachon was an executive producer on Ira Glass’ Emmy Award-winning program “This American Life,” HBO’s “Mildred Pierce” and ” Z: The Beginning of Everything” for Amazon Prime and is currently developing Ryan Murphy’s latest project for Netflix. Vachon also presided over the main competition jury at San Sebastian 2012.

Berzosa, a producer at local companies Moriarti and Irusoin, has backed several of the Basque Country’s most successful films in recent years including San Sebastian 2018’s Special Jury Prize winner “Giant” and two Spanish submissions to the Oscars’ international feature category, “Flowers” and “The Endless Trench.” He also works closely with Andalusian outfit La Claqueta, co-producing last year’s true crime docu-series “The Miramar Murders: The State vs. Pablo Ibar,” picked up by HBO for Spain.

A San Sebastian native, Gabilando founded his company Alea Media in 2017, and stands out as one of Spain’s most prominent fiction creators. Gabilando’s run of successful TV productions includes Mediaset España’s “The Prince” and “Madres. Amor y vida,” both breakout hits in Spain, and most recently the award-winning HBO mini-series “Patria,” which was first publically teased and premiered to large success at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

Over the summer, the three mentors will each join the leaders of their assigned projects for three days at the Tabakalera for an intensive brainstorming, planning and experience pooling meeting.

In September, the San Sebastian Festival becomes more heavily involved, as explained by deputy director Maialen Beloki at the program’s announcement: “We work all year accompanying new talents with our programs such as Ikusmira Berriak,” referencing the festival’s development for local and international up-and-coming talent. Similarly, project leads will be given the opportunity to present their series to producers, investors, distributors, platforms and broadcasters at the festival.”

The call for interested projects is open now and runs until March 8. On April 5, the three projects will be announced. The program is led by the 2deo audiovisual laboratory and promoted by the Gipuzkoa Provincial Council within the framework of Etorkizuna Eraikiz.

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