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The region of Navarre, in Northern Spain, is fortifying its position as a solidly built hub for the audiovisual industry.

Despite pandemic, film and TV remains growth sectors, showing the early fruits of a building industrial fabric, part of a strategic axis in Navarre’s Plan of Smart Specialization 2030.

Driven by a 40% tax deduction for R&D and tech innovation activities, Navarre started to attract animation and post-production firms in 2015.

Nurtured by a favorable environment, four Navarre-based toon studios have already unveiled the development and production of five new feature films: Apolo Films’ adventure comedy “Dogtanian & The Three Muskehounds,” Dr. Platypus & Wombat’s “Dinogames” and “Hanna y los monstruos,” Demiranda Studios’ stop motion “Ojalá” and The Think Lab’s 3D production “Inspector Sun.”

Also, Navarre has embarked on Emotional Films, maybe its most ambitious R&D project to date. It teams a regional consortium of public and private companies and orgs -taking in Dr. Platypus & Wombat, the Navarra Audiovisual Cluster (Clavna) plus several universities, investigators and experts.

“The project will combine audiovisual production with artificial intelligence to create a disruptive algorithm aimed to read movie spectator’s reactions, making the plot evolve in real time,” said Arturo Cisneros, manager at Clavna.

Meanwhile, the regional government is redoubling its commitment to the sector, approving a new initiative to support animation projects as the public entity Servicio Navarro de Empleo continues backing professionals’ training via its Animate program.

Currently, Navarre’s audiovisual industry resources include more than 80 companies involved in the audiovisual value chain, plus 130 self-employed professionals available for shoots.

Five Madrid-based companies, led by Tornasol Films, the producers of foreign Oscar winner “The Secret in Their Eyes,” will launch services consortium Centro Navarro de Producción Cinematográfica in Berrioplano, a town near Pamplona, in October. CNPC will also focus on developing R&D projects and professional formation.

Tornasol, producer of recent Navarre-set productions such as Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s “The Realm” and Argentine co-production “Game of Power,” is partnering at CNP with camera rental company Camara Rental Services, costume rental and manufacturer Peris Costumes (“The Crown,” “Peaky Blinders,” “Isabel”), post-production and VFX provider Free Your Mind, and sound post house Adhoc.

“The landing of CNPC is expected to be a key push to position Navarre as a reference for the Spanish industry, creating a solid and quality professional network,” Cisneros said.

“This is an important fact that attests to our growth,” said Javier Lacunza, general manager of Navarre Culture, Sports and Leisure.

“The industry business is growing in three different ways: From already established companies, local entrepreneurship and companies coming from outside,” he explained.

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Centro Navarro de Producción Cinematográfica Credit: Clavna

A further step in the facilities’ growth is the launch of Melitón Films, a joint-venture between Lekaroz-based production services and training company Estudios Melitón and Canary Islands’ Macaronesia Films that is aimed at boosting Navarre’s audiovisual industry and easing access to regional tax advantages.

Historically, Navarre has levied its own tax regime which led to its launching a competitive 35% tax credit for Spanish shoots and co-productions which spend at least 40% of their budgets in the territory in 2015.

“By December, Navarre will study some changes in tax regulation, taking in the introduction of more legal elements that simplify the producer’s work, providing more security to investors,” Lacunza explained.

Audiovisual shoots in Navarre traditionally gravitated towards feature films and documentaries. However, the TV drama phenomenon has quickly gained ground in 2020, in part because of the pandemic.

Ficción Producciones’ “3 Caminos,” a co-production with Cinemate and 329 Studio in association with Beta Film and Amazon; “Ana Tramel. El juego,” teaming Tornasol with DeAPlaneta, Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and Germany’s ZDF Enterprises, and Amazon Exclusive series “El Internado: Las Cumbres,” an Atresmedia Studios-Globomedia (The Mediapro Studio) production, are recent high-profile Navarre-based projects.

“In 2020 TV dramas are staying for very long shoots of several weeks. Days of fiction shot in a territory is an especially important parameter to the extent that they boast bigger budgets and generate more spending on auxiliary services,” Lacunza said.

He added: “It is important that global platforms base their activity here. It gives you media visibility, but we must attend to the small companies as well, aiding local creators to join co-productions. It is an entire ecosystem.”

“I always say that the herd runs at the pace of the slowest member. We need the smallest in our herd to run quickly,” he explained.

Another building brick in Navarre’s audiovisual growth plans is Conecta Fiction.

Putting the region again on the international calendar, the in-person half of Conecta 2020 takes place Sept. 1-3 in Pamplona, combined with a Sept. 1-11 online meet.

“This is a strong positioning effort for Navarre. We are already seeing the results of the previous edition and how some projects, such as ‘3 Caminos,’ intensified their filming plans here after the event. Conecta Fiction shows Navarre’s desire to be a player in this world,” he concluded.