Prod’n pain in Spain

Herrero asks for cooperation with government

MADRID — If you’re walking on glass, don’t stamp too much.

That seemed the philosophy of Gerardo Herrero, the president of Spain’s powerful producers’ lobby Fapae, as he reviewed Spain’s gathering film production crisis at the most eagerly awaited press conference of film and TV mart Midia ’98, which kicked off Tuesday.

According to the Spanish Film Academy, a lack of funding from pubcaster RTVE means than no more than 40 features will be produced this year compared with 78 in 1997.

Yet Herrero, the co producer of Ken Loach’s “Land and Freedom” and a sophisticated diplomat, advanced various arguments for negotiations rather than confrontation with Spain’s government.

RTVE general manager Fernando Lopez Amor promised on Tuesday that a first round of pre buys of Spanish features would take place “within some two weeks,” Herrero said.

The government still looks on course to pass legislation this October that will oblige Spanish broadcasters to invest 5% of their turnover in Spanish film production. That investment could raise $67 million — more, according to other estimates — in annual TV finance for local films, said Herrero.

Herrero also fired an ultimatum at Spain’s government: If RTVE and quota investment do not seem certain by September, Spain’s Fapae will “change its negotiating strategy.”

This could herald a public bloodbath between the government and Spanish film producers, which both are anxious to avoid.