Studio complex will lure foreign pro’ds

Ciudad studios designed by Gary Bastien

MADRID — Who are Spain’s most powerful new film players? Its regional governments.

Valencia’s regional government, for example, is investing $342 million — eight times Spain’s annual film subsidy fund — in the Ciudad de la Luz film studios, near Alicante in eastern Spain.

The move comes as the Catalan government has earmarked $189 million in soft credit for film/TV production over 2002-05, and a Galician state investment fund has taken a 10% stake in Filmax, one of Spain’s biggest producers and distribbers.

The Ciudad studios are designed by Gary Bastien. “The project’s great beauty is that the architect came up with a design for the best studios he imagined. While most private financiers would reduce the budget, the Spanish said build it, and build it the best you can,” says operations director David Rance, former Pinewood studio manager.

The complex will include six soundstages — two of them 25,000 square feet — up and running next spring; Europe’s only customized surface and deep tanks, to open in 2005; and a 22-hectare backlot.

The brainchild of film director Luis Berlanga, the Ciudad studios aim to lure big productions from the U.S. Their ultimate justification, however, is how they affect the local economy. Spanish companies probably will co-produce some of the projects made here, and an inhouse film school will train Spain’s newest tech talent.

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