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High-Profile Film Shoots Give Madrid a Big Boost on International Stage

The James Cameron-produced “Terminator” reboot, Asghar Farhadi’s Cannes opener “Everybody Knows” and Netflix phenomenon “La Casa de Papel” share a common shoot locale: Madrid.

Spain’s main film and TV hub, Madrid is rolling off two key drivers of the country’s content economy: a rising number of big U.S. shoots that take advantage of locations, talent and rebates in the area, and Spain’s booming drama series scene.

With a long litany of international shoots through the decades, both Madrid’s city and region boast an ultra-modern communications infrastructure and usually stable weather.

The launch three years ago of Spanish tax rebates for film and TV projects — tabbed at 20% of spend in Spain’s mainland — is boosting Madrid, as with Spain at large, as an increasingly attractive destiny for foreign shoots.

The Tim Miller-directed “Terminator” reboot — yet to be titled — will partly film for two weeks in early summer in several locations in Madrid, with the aim of replicating the U.S.-Mexico border.

Two “Game of Thrones” Spanish partners, Peter Welter’s Fresco Film and location manager Tate Aráez, twice winner of a Location Managers Guild Intl. Award, have joined “Terminator’s” Spanish shoot, which will also lens in Hungary.

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Everybody Knows,” a European co-production starring Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Ricardo Darín, mainly lensed in the Madrid-area town of Torrelaguna.

Both the “Terminator” reboot and “Everybody” shoots were backed by Film Madrid, run by Madrid’s regional government to promote and advise film and TV productions.

“There is a growing locations demand for international film projects,” says Film Madrid coordinator Samuel Castro. “But Madrid is especially emerging as a key nerve center for TV series production, as Spanish TV fiction expands its international presence.”

The most-watched non-English-language series in Netflix history, Atresmedia’s “La Casa de Papel” shot last year entirely in Madrid and its surroundings.

Because of the series’ global impact, tourists from Latin America and Europe are making pilgrimages to the Centro Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, in Madrid’s Serrano Street, to take selfies in front of the real-life facade of the building that stands in for the Royal Mint in the series.

Interiors were filmed on a soundstage in Colmenar Viejo, 34 kilometers from downtown Madrid. The Escuela Superior de Ingenieros Aeronáuticos, in Madrid’s Ciudad Universitaria, saw its roof used for a key scene in the series.

“La Casa de Papel” also used Madrid’s ABC newspaper offices to re-create money printing presses, and Finca El Gasco in Torrelodones, 31 kilometers northeast of the city, for the Toledo farm where the thieves plan.

Advised by Film Madrid, the Zeta Audiovisual-produced teen mystery drama “Elite,” Netflix’s second Spanish original series, partially films in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, with Nicolás Tapia (“Penny Dreadful”) as production manager.

Further new TV shoots backed by Film Madrid encompass Enrique Urbizu’s “Giants,” a Telefonica-Movistar Plus production that sneak-peeked at MipDrama this year, plus upcoming seasons of “Spanish Shame” and “Velvet Collection.” Also, Netflix’s first Spanish original series, Bambú-produced “The Cable Girls,” and Mediaset España’s TV primetime king “La que se avecina” continue shooting in Madrid.

Launched early 2016, Film Madrid is consolidating efforts to enhance visibility across key international industry events.

A Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight entry, Arantxa Echevarría’s debut, “Carmen y Lola” used Film Madrid for locations such as education center CEPA Dulce Chacón. Furthermore, the movie tapped development and promotional support from the regional government.

On May 14, the Cannes festival will host an international presentation of four feature projects in which Film Madrid is involved. They are black comedy “Jefe,” from Potenza’s Carlo D’Ursi; “Objetos perdidos,” by Zampano Producciones’ Carlota Coronado; César Esteban Alenda’s “Sin Fin,” a recent Málaga Festival award-winner; and José Luis López Linares’ documentary “El misterio de Goya.”

In June, Film Madrid will organize a trip for Asian producers “to promote Madrid as a potential hub that connects Asia with Europe and Latin America,” Castro says. Attendees include Raymond Phathanavirangoon, founder of the Southeast Asian Fiction Film Lab, and Makoto Kakurai at Tokyo’s Office Kitano.

Closing a circle in Madrid’s film-TV big shoot scene, city hall has just launched its own City of Madrid Film Office, with a fluent relationship with its neighbor Film Madrid, both looking to provide optimal coverage for shoots in the city and the region.

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