Spain Location Industry Unveils Five-Point Action Plan

·4-min read

As Cannes celebrates it first big get-together since 2019 with much of the traditional movie industry business model now being questioned, one thing, at least, has never been stronger: The drive by governments worldwide to lure big movie shoots.

Powered by an exponential rise in demand, film and TV shoots are already big business. Total expenditure on shoots in France last year was valued at €2.8 billion ($3 billion), 30% up on 2019, CNC president Dominique Boutonnat announced at the recent Series Mania.

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Overseas shoot numbers are already rebounding from pandemic, with France’s Tax Rebate for Intl. Productions (TRIP) attracting 62 overseas shoots in 2021, 20% more than 2019. Expenditure was up 60%.

Goosed by more incentive schemes, the locations industry looks set to build even more.

In March 2021, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced a Spain AVS Hub plan with a total $1.8 billion budget for 2021-25.

Much of that targets big foreign productions to Spain, which has already hosted huge productions including “Game of Thrones” and its series prequel “House of the Dragon.” Just what film commissions can do to further add more is a big question.

One answer came on the cusp of Cannes as the Spain Film Commission (SFC) unveiled a five-point action plan:

• The creation of a social network, the Spain Film Talent Network, placing special emphasis on women working in the industry.

• The strengthening of SFC’s territorial network under a Spain Film Friendly Land initiative.

• A transmedia overhaul of SFC’s website, also updating contents.

• Promoting Spain as an international destination for shoots and inward investment under a Shooting in Spain brand.

• Spain Virtual Locations: The creation of pilot schemes for 3D models of outstanding monuments, buildings or urban spaces.

As the locations industry evolves rapidly, several cutting-edge concerns thread the proposals. One is ecological. So the Spain Film Friendly Land includes a Green Shooting project to analyze projects promoting sustainable shoots in Spain.

Big shoots imply travel. But parts of the industry can go online. So a Spain Film Transmedia Platform aims “to improve the locations catalog by creating a transmedia document base,” says SFC president Carlos Rosado. Spain’s Film Friendly Land push includes establishing best practices for sustainable shoots.

“The global deluge of production has meant that film commissions have become much more proactive — both in terms of how they market their jurisdiction to producers, and how they assist in developing local production capabilities and capacity,” says Leon Forde, managing director of creative industry consultancy Olsberg SPI.

“The pandemic has only increased the need for proactivity,” he adds, noting the action plan’s several key digital elements, such as the creation of 3D models of monuments, alongside in-person showcases.

There’s also worldwide squeeze on talent. Growing a local talent pool creates jobs and means flying in less technicians. “We don’t want to be a basic services industry, but a country whose talent counts in the decisions of producers who come here to shoot,” says Rosado.

So the Spain Film Talent Network will “generate opportunities for networking and learning, create an additional training offer, and assist in the search for internship opportunities,” says Rosado.

“Developing cast and crew capabilities and capacity is a key challenge for many global markets right now,” notes Forde.

Much more is at stake, however. As Rosado points out, the Spain AVS Hub plan is “the first time that the country’s world of culture has been incorporated into axes of economic transformation.”

More than a physical production the idea for the audiovisual hub, presented by Rosado and ex-HBO exec James Costos to the government, was “an ideal of all the elements connected with audiovisual affairs uniting under a common strategy.”

Again for the first time ever, the AVS plan takes in Spain’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation and its ICEX-Invest export and inward investment board, the Ministry of Culture’s ICAA film agency, Spain’s tax authorities and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Other countries have used the pandemic to shape monumental plans for their audiovisual sectors.

Italy’s Cinecittà Studios are adding a LED wall, underwater tank and soundstages and doubling their backlot as incentives in Italy have spiked to 40% of spend.

At February’s Berlin Festival, Culture Minister Claudia Roth announced a review of Germany’s big shoot incentives.

At Cannes, billboards and ads will promote productions in a lot of countries, but it’s not just about film or TV — production is part of the battle for prosperity in a post-pandemic age.

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