Galician production lures with regional coin

Savvy producers tap into array of co-prods, funds

Molded for centuries by the centripetal force of Madrid, Spain is increasingly powered by its once-peripheral regions — from Andalusia in the south, to Catalonia in the northeast and Galicia in the northwest.

In terms of financial muscle, Madrid and Catalonia remain Spain’s pre-eminent filming regions.

But Galicia has cannily carved out a pivotal position in the country’s film matrix, providing a vital gateway to Spain’s E427.5 million ($610.8 million) film funding pie by leveraging regional coin.

“I definitely aim to shoot in Galicia again,” says Gonzalo Salazar-Simpson, producer of national hit “Road to Santiago.” “The locations are spectacular, the financial incentives extremely attractive.”

“Galicia has six key advantages as a film hub,” says La Coruna-based producer Manuel Cristobal: “It’s the best possible co-production partner, has excellent technicians, extensive financial incentives, great actors, good producers and an open funding system.”

The hottest production to come out of a Galician producer right now is Vaca Films’ “Cell 211,” which screened at Venice and Toronto. Vaca also has drama “Retornos” in post.

In a decade, the region has built up a mix of well-established producers — Continental, Filmanova, Voz Audiovisual and Filmax Animation — plus a younger generation: Vaca, Artefacto, Cinematografo and Perro Verde.

Public policy has played a critical role. As an autonomous community with a significant degree of self-government, Galicia is keen on establishing a distinct identity in the international panorama.

Film plays a key role in this process.

“Feature films can easily have a far more powerful international impact than a book or a stage play,” explains Galician Audiovisual Consortium director Ignacio Varela.

The org now serves as the anchor of regional film funding, complemented by venture capital fund SempreCinema, that invests $1 million-plus per pic in local productions and to attract international co-productions.

Regional pubcaster TVG is also a key partner. Additional funding is available from Xacobeo, managed by Ignacio Santos, that aims to build a strong brand image.

Over the last 24 months, the company has  sponsored three major productions: “Road to Santiago,” reality TV show “O Gran Camino” and National Geographic docu series, “Camino de Santiago.”

For Galician Media Minister Alfonso Cabaleiro, the “Camino de Santiago’s core spiritual component has tremendous storytelling potential, fueled by a wide array of well-preserved monuments, including churches, monasteries, bridges and Santiago de Compostela itself.”

Media investor-producer Rosalia Mera highlights the region’s wealth of stunning locations, citing the Roman lighthouse in La Coruna and the Playa de las Catedrales in Ribadeo.

The magical world of the St. James Way and current cluster of Camino projects is sure to further consolidate Galicia’s international presence and provide a vital step forward for the burgeoning local industry.

American DP Matthew Hazelrig, currently working on the region’s 3-D stop-motion “The Apostle,” seguing from “Coraline,” is amazed by local skills, facilities and standards and sums up the prevailing spirit: “They want the world.”

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