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Spain’s big shoots industry is putting the pedal to the metal, propelled by an encouraging improvement in tax breaks for international productions.
The moves aim to make Spain more attractive for big-budget projects, helping the sector look beyond COVID-19 crisis.

Approved May 5, the new measures increase tax rebates for international shoots from 25% to 30% for the first €1 million ($1.1 million) spend in Spain and cap a shoot’s total tax deduction at $10.8 million, up from $3.28 million.

It remains to be seen if the Canary Islands will continue to offer tax rebates 20 percentage points above rates for Spain’s mainland.
Navarre currently offers a 35% corporate tax deduction for Navarre-based companies, and the Basque Country offers 30% tax shelters for Spanish film/TV production.

The boost in incentives was received with a large sigh of relief by Spain’s production services industry.

“Improving tax rebate conditions will keep Spain’s competitive as an international location destination,” says Nostromo Pictures’ Adrián Guerra, president of Profilm, Spain’s international shoot sector trade association.

With a solid track record of servicing international titles, Spain won larger global visibility after “Game of Thrones” filmed there from 2014-18.
The international reach of the Spanish industry has received a new impetus in recent times from a local TV drama boom, driven by Netflix global hit series “Money Heist” and “Elite.”

Last year, Netflix launched its first European production hub at the Secuoya Studios in Tres Cantos, a village near Madrid, and Spanish infrastructure continues to grow.

Built — literally — around Secuoya Studios, construction of Madrid Content City, scheduled to conclude by September 2021, encompasses 10 soundstages and aims to answer the streaming age’s huge demand for production facilities.

More muscular tax break rebates will allow productions to be carried out entirely in Spain, as the number of countries where big shoots will probably contract to lessen COVID-19 exposure.

The COVID-19 crisis halted Spanish shoots on “The Crown,” which had planned to film part of Season 4 in the Pyrenees’ Baqueira Beret; Netflix sci-fi series “In From the Cold”; Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures TV’s “Wheel of Time”; and SkyDance TV and Apple TV Plus series “Foundation.”

Among higher-profile Spanish projects also affected are Mediapro Studio’s “Official Competition,” starring Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas, which halted its Madrid shoot in March.

Services companies are eager to adapt to the future, and get back in business.

Location lensing probably won’t be greenlit until August.

“We readying to shoot with total guarantees, unifying our shoot protocols with those brought by production teams from their own countries,” says Denis Pedregosa, CEO at service provider Babieka. “During confinement, we didn’t stop receiving international proposals to film in Spain. I’m very optimistic about an abrupt increase of international shoots once the borders open.”

Indeed, Spain’s highest-profile companies are rapidly returning to expectations of growth on the back of the drama series revolution.

In April, Secuoya tapped James Costos, a former HBO VP of global licensing and retail and U.S. ambassador to Spain, as president of Secuoya Studios, its content production arm, and announced it will open an office in Los Angeles. Costos had helped secure a Spanish shoot for “Game of Thrones.”

“The addition of James Costos to our company will help us make North American producers aware of everything Spain has to offer in the sector, something that demands even more attention now that we’re in the global spotlight,” says Raúl Berdonés, Grupo Secuoya president. “In the coming years, Costos will be a key piece in Spain’s film-TV sectorial development and our bridge to meet
the demands of the North American industry.”