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Location Basque Country: Some Key Locations

From futuristic film faves to Dragonstone, locations are one key to the Basque Country’s appeal

SAN SEBASTIAN — Bizkaia’s 10th century chapel of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, built on a rock in the sea, served as one of the real-life locations for Dragonstone, the home to Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in Season 7 of “Game of Thrones.”

Over July to October 2016, production teams at HBO and Spanish services company Fresco Film established one of “Game of Thrones” production headquarters in Bilbao, also filming series’ scenes on the beaches of Muriola, in Bizkaia’s Barrika, and Itzuru, in Gipuzkoa’s Zumaia, which boasts a singular geo-park featuring Flysch rock formation.

ABC’s “The Bachelor” also filmed at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe this year.

High-profile international shoots in the Basque Country have some standout precedents. In the early ‘70s, Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen spent nearly a week in Hondarribia, a Gipuzkoan town near the French border, shooting Franklin J. Schaffner’s prison drama “Papillon.” Hondarribia, alongside San Sebastian and Zarauz, was chosen by British director Guy Hamilton to film Michael Caine’s 1969 WWII drama “Battle of Britain.”

One of the icons of the modern Basque Country, Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum hosted in 1999 the partial shoot of James Bond franchise installment “The World is Not Enough,” with Pierce Brosnan. This Bilbao area is increasingly in demand for film futuristic movies, such as the Watchowskis’ “Jupiter Ascending.

The city of Bilbao will also play a key role in Gracia Querejeta’s “Crime Wave,” rolling in locations in Bilbao’s business and tourist districts, the Neguri suburb, the Ria and the Portugalete Suspension Bridge.

Atresmedia’s “Down Below,” one of the most successful Spanish TV fiction series in recent years which exploits a culture clash between Basque and Andalusian characters, rolls regularly in San Sebastian’s port.

“Handia,” Jon Garaño and Aitor Arregi’s San Sebastian player, a 19th century-set Basque-language feature, filmed in Vitoria’s well-preserved Medieval Quarter and also in Zumaia.

A regular scene for recent Spanish shoots, Zumaia and surroundings hosted Spanish box-office friendly movies such as “Spanish Affair,” “Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang” and “Zip & Zap and the Captain’s Island,” all titles co-produced by Koldo Zuazua at San Sebastián-based Kowalski Films, one of the most dynamic Basque production houses.

Paul Urkijo’s Basque-language fantasy film “Errementari” rolled in the Alava mountains and the Alava Technologic Park, where producers, headed by Alex de la Iglesia, installed a big chroma, VFX facility available for upcoming projects. In their search for cutting-edge technology appeal, Spanish titles “Orbita 9” and “Cuerpo de elite” have also filmed in the Park, whose facilities include a wind tunnel.

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