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How ‘La Sala’ and ‘Hierro’ Broke the Mold of Spanish TV Productions

Until recently, when a Spanish TV operator put up 100% finance, it retained nearly 100% of rights. Now, no one size fits all. Variety analyzes two projects that break the mold in Spain.

La Sala

Police TV thriller “La Sala” (The Room) shows three production companies greenlighting a TV project without TV network support — unthinkable until recently. Madrid-based Isla Audiovisual, creator of the CW’s “Star Crossed,” and Canary Islands’ CanCan and Funwood Media teamed to develop the series with their own creative and executive resources.

Producers pitched the script to TF1’s Newen, who put up financing against the series’ future international distribution. They pre-sold Spanish SVOD to HBO España, and free-to-air TV rights to the regional pubcasters association Forta.

Directed by César Arriero and Manuel Sanabria, “La Sala” shot entirely in Gran Canaria, tapping into Canary Islands’ 45% tax credits for private investment in Spanish productions.

That helped cut the episodes’ cost to just half that of a mid-budget Spanish TV drama, says Isla Audiovisual CEO, Víctor García.

Toplining Francesc Garrido (“I Know Who You Are”), the series revolves around a seasoned police inspector who kills his boss and is interrogated by a young journalist.

“La Sala’s” partners are now working on new TV drama projects with the same production model, but more ambitious budgets.

“The business is not in content productions, it is in their IP,” García concludes.



Set-up at Galicia’s Portocabo, TV thriller “Hierro” marks the first TV drama co-produced by Telefonica-owned Movistar +.

A project award winner at Berlinale’s 2015 CoPro Series, “Hierro” premiered at Series Manía on March 26.

Created by Pepe Coira and directed by Jorge Coira, the series is a noir set on the volcanic Canary Island of El Hierro. It follows a judge (Candela Peña) investigating a murder whose prime suspect is a shady local entrepreneur (Darío Grandinetti). Filming in the Canary Islands, the “Hierro” production tapped into attractive fiscal incentives.

“When we first pitched ‘Hierro,’ Spanish TV operators didn’t need to look for creative or economic synergies,” says Portocabo founder Alfonso Blanco.

In 2017, Movistar +, French-German broadcaster Arte, and Lagardére Group’s Atlantique Productions inked a co-development agreement. As “Hierro” co-producers, all four partners share IP.

“Now all TV operators are willing to sit down and talk about co-production,” Blanco says.
Banijay Rights handles international sales. Movistar + will release “Hierro” simultaneously on June 7 in Spain and Latin America.

Last year, Portocabo also co-produced the European remake of Japanese hit series “Miracle Tunes,” teaming with Mediaset Italia. New business opportunities are opening up for Spain’s middle class of TV production companies.

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