Spain’s studio rodeo

To build or not to build a studio can become a political question.

Architectural firm Bastien and Associates, which is nearing completion of its projected $75 million Ciudad de la Luz film studio in Alicante, Spain, remains optimistic in the midst of political infighting, speculation regarding its fiscal success and negotiations securing production of James Bond films at the site.

The government-supervised project has maintained its construction schedule while Valencia president Francisco Campos performed a personal coup in July, replacing administrative council executives favorable to the project, most of whom were public servants or politicians loyal to ex-president Eduardo Zaplana. The newly appointed team quickly set about revising the studio business plan because of speculation over its proposed employment and fiscal future for the province of Alicante.

Negotiations for filming of the Bond films are also key to a successful Ciudad studio opening and to generating jobs and filling the coffers.

Studio was originally set to be open for film production last September.

To date, the first phase includes four stages of 17,760 square feet and two at 24,760 square feet. There are three production support buildings of 32,300 square feet and a mill/shop of approximately 96,900 square feet.

The project has provided infrastructure for roads, sewers, light and water. Phase two proposes construction of a 22-acre back lot with electrical services, four additional stages and two production support buildings.

“The commentaries from all of the producers have all been very positive. Some of them have filmed in the United States and Europe, and they say that Ciudad is very impressive,” said Pedro Perez, president of the Federation of Spanish Audiovisual Producers Assn.

Progress at the studio, financed entirely by public funds, is being watched closely by the political opposition and the media. More than $131 million has been invested to date. This year, most of Alicante’s government-funded $674.8 million will be allocated to the construction of Ciudad de la Luz’s second phase.

“When phase two is completed, this will be the only full-service studio facility in the world with high-tech infrastructure, a large shooting tank on the Mediterranean Sea and a large back lot. It will definitely be the most advanced film studio in Europe,” said Gary Bastien, president of Bastien and Associates.

Bastien and Associates specializes in designing Hollywood-style film studios in Southern California and around the world, including Roy Disney’s Manhattan Beach Studios and the Los Angeles Center Studios in downtown L.A.

* * *

Tribune Studios’ Hollywood facility continues to offer a friendly home to TV productions without big budgets or lengthy shooting schedules.

The all-digital studio allows control rooms and equipment to go from one show to another with quick turnaround. Audio settings and video boards are saved to disks and instantly recalled for shows returning for a second season or replacing key technical personnel.

Tribune’s ability to share resources allows it to use every square foot of stage space seven days a week. “Steve Harvey’s Big Time” (the WB), “Jim Rome Is Burning” (ESPN) and “Balderdash” (the Pax network) recently occupied Tribune’s 23,000-square-foot stage simultaneously and remained up for alternating shoot dates using the same control room and cameras. Tribune boasts stages from 7,000 to 23,900 square feet with more than 70,000 square feet of support space.

Productions working with skeleton crews can take advantage of Tribune’s personnel for positions such as tech managers and production coordinators to hire payroll and production crews, coordinate special equipment needs and troubleshoot technical problems.

Other Tribune clients include Paramount’s “Judge Judy” and “Judge Joe Brown,” with side-by-side sets, alternating shooting and sharing crews and equipment; Twentieth Television’s “Divorce Court”; Fremantle’s “Family Feud”; and Nickelodeon’s “Drake & Josh.”

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