Spain to give cash incentives for shoots

MADRID — Spain is finally offering cash incentives for big international shoots.

And the amounts in question are not just chicken feed.

Launched Jan. 22 by the government of Valencia, they offer up to e5.4 million ($7 million) per film in straight nonreturnable grants.

To qualify, productions must shoot for three weeks in Valencia, including two at Alicante’s spanking-new Ciudad de la Luz studios, notching up 30%-50% of their total shoot time there.

All films receive an automatic 12% of coin spent in the region. Some may tap up to a further discretionary 6%, with 90% of incentive coin paid during production.

“The 6% depends on productions’ media, economic and industrial impact,” says Jose Luis Olaizola, business director at studio manager Producciones Aguamarga.

Europe boasts a bevy of big-shoot lures, but their rationales vary, making them sometimes tricky to tap into.

Blighty tax credits require British cast and crew on qualifying productions. But Valencia has no local talent requirements.

German funds — the Filmstiftung NRW and Bavaria’s FFF Bayern — offer better rates of return: Both can put up to $1 for every $1.50 spent locally. And they have considerably bigger funds to work with.

But with a larger number of productions, their per-film funding is far lower; in FFF Bayern’s case, it’s capped at $2.1 million.

“We’re concerned about maintaining a whole film and TV industry,” says Michaela Haberlander, Bayern’s head of international relations.

“This year we’d be satisfied with one big shoot, two midrange pics and three to five smaller productions,” says Olaizola.

Shoots must take on a Valencia partner. But that doesn’t have to be a co-producer: Valencia-based service companies, executive and associate producers also are eligible. Incentives are channeled through the local partner.

On a pic-by-pic basis, the grants far surpass Spain’s central government subsidies for local films: Valencia can expect a cavalcade of technical talent moving down to Alicante to partner in local production/service shingles.

That’s exactly what Ciudad de la Luz needs. It was designed by L.A. architect Gary Bastien with no expense spared, from dainty dressing rooms to electricity grids stretching under backlots.

It’s already hosted “Asterix at the Olympic Games,” Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “His Majesty Minor” and Adrien Brody/Penelope Cruz starrer “Manolete.”

But Valencia lacks veteran technical talent.

“Any incentive is good. When the studio’s got infrastructure — fantastic craftsmen, etc. — the 12%-18% will work well,” says Madrid-based “Kingdom of Heaven” co-producer Denise O’Dell.

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