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Spain’s northern region of Navarre has fortified its position as a hub for the audiovisual industry in recent years and, mirroring trends seen elsewhere in the country, seen particularly strong growth in TV production in the past year, in spite of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Why is another matter. In 2019, Netflix produced more hours of original productions in Spain (163) than any other country outside the U.S., apart from South Korea (238), according to an Omdia analysis. After starting with non-fiction original production in Spain almost three years ago, Amazon Prime Video is highly active in Spain, acquiring rights to the territory and pushing more recently into fiction production, including two series shot in Navarre this year.

As demand for high-end TV content has spiked, production has been forced out of Madrid and Barcelona soundstages and into other parts of Spain, where diverse natural landscapes, historic architecture, increasingly well-trained crew and generous tax and financial incentives await. Few territories have all those qualities in greater abundance than Navarre.

Part of the need for authentic locations is an increased desire of audiences around the world for series shot in specific, often spectacular places such as the Bardenas Reales region in the southeast of Navarre  which served as the backdrop for Daenerys Targaryen’s desert exodus in “Game of Thrones” or Gallipienzo Antiguo, a village used in Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.”

“That town, hanging on the edge of a mountain, it’s spectacular,” says Tornasol producer Mariela Besuevsky, who worked on the film. “Navarra has deserts, mountains, forests and cities.”

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Ana. The Game Credit: ZDF Enterprizes

One such city is Pamplona, famous for its Sanfermines Festival and the running of the bulls. There, Tornasol, Spanish broadcaster RTVE, DeAPlaneta and ZDF Enterprises shot crime series “Ana. The Game,” starring Maribel Verdú (“Pan’s Labyrinth”).

As for Amazon’s Navarre-based series, “3 Caminos,” produced by Ficción Producciones with Beta Films, South Korea’s 329 Studios and Portugal’s Cinemate, unspools across the north of Spain where three pairs of pilgrims cross paths across the years on the Camino de Santiago. Meanwhile, “El Internado: Las Cumbres” reboots a decade-old classic Spanish series, shot in the historic Monastery of Iratxe which has been a university, a wartime hospital and a resting place for pilgrims since its 11th century construction. The series is produced by Atresmedia Studios and Globomedia.

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El Internado Las Cumbres Credit: Atresmedia

Navarre also attracts shoots with its 35% corporate tax deduction for Navarre-based companies. These tax breaks are available to Spanish productions or international shoots which gain Spanish nationality and spend at least 25% of budgets in the region.

Those incentives are backed by “Involvement, support and professionalism of its film commission,” praised “3 Caminos” producer Mamen Quintas Cruceyra of Ficción Producciones. “Their team and the regional government have been invaluable resources.”