Spain Bids to Grab Top Spot

One Year, One Night

Since 2018, Spain’s film and TV industries has gone through a revolution. Accustomed to the success of standout movie auteurs – Almodóvar, Amenabar and Trueba – for two decades or more Spain has blown U.S. shows out of its domestic free-to-air primetime and been one of the world’s most successful exporter of fiction TV formats.

Now, Spain’s place on the periphery of global TV business is history. Through October, four Netflix Spanish shows or movies – “Money Heist” (Part 4, watched by 65 million household accounts), “The Platform,” (56 million), “Below Zero” (47 million) and “Elite” (Season 4, 37 million) – were some of the most watched non-English language Netflix titles of all time.

Spain’s Canary Islands boasts one of the highest shoot incentives – 50% of a first €1 million ($1.1 million) spend – anywhere in the world.

Capping that, in March 2021 Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced the most ambitious film-TV incentive drive in history: the Spain AVS Hub Plan, worth a total €1.6 billion ($1.81 billion) in investment or state engineered financing.

Further pumping the entertainment sector, in January, the government unveiled the Spanish Screenings XXL, an amped up version of the Malaga Festival’s March Spanish cinema showcase. That will now segue from Malaga to San Sebastián and take in an event outside Spain, targeting Eastern Europe and Asia.

Malaga’s Screenings will also expand to take in series, animation and straight-to-digital formats, incorporating Hack Mafiz Malaga, a digital creators forum.

Tapping Spain AVS Hub Plan funding, which runs 2022-24, the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX) will focus on attracting for Malaga on attracting buyers from Russia, especially its niche platforms, as well as from South Korea, says Pablo Conde, ICEX’s consumer goods and cultural industries director.

Leveraging its network of 100-plus offices worldwide, ICEX will also strengthen the presence and visibility of Spain’s AV sectors in eight priority markets: the U.S., Canada, U.K., Russia, Turkey, India, South Korea and Japan. “In some markets, we’ll focus on co-production and attracting shoots, in others on specific sectors, which could be animation or video games,” Conde adds.

ICEX is leading the creation of Spain Audiovisual Bureau, or “Single Window,” a one-stop shop for enquiries regarding shoots and exports. Backed by a broad ministerial base, the Bureau aims to be up-and-running by May, says Javier Yraola, project management director, ICEX-Invest in Spain.

Much of the Plan’s $1.8 billion looks set to be paid in low-cost credit. “The access to credit is key for becoming more attractive as a shooting location and to allow Spanish production companies to make bigger and more complex projects,” Yraola says.

ICEX-Invest in Spain aims to strengthen credit facilities offered by the Spanish Official Credit Institute (ICO) and Audiovisual SGR and broaden private-sector funding in and outside Spain, he adds.

The Spain AVS Plan is, however, “just at the beginning,” says José Nevado, managing director of PATE, Spain’s most powerful producers union. Specific, transformative market re-regulation has still to be defined, he says. One, enshrined in a new Copyright Law, PATE hopes, would see producers retain 20% of IP on platform productions that they originate.

The studio streamer revolution is already transforming at least higher-end production in Spain, however. Produced by Bambu Producciones, the company behind milestone Spanish series such as “Grand Hotel” and “Cable Girls,” Spanish Berlin competition player “One Year, One Night,” from once left-field auteur Isaki Lacuesta (“Between Two Waters”), is a love story set against the background of the Paris Bataclan night club terrorist attack. It stars Nahuel Pérez Biscayart (“BPM (Beats Per Minute)”).

“The idea is to give auteurs the resources to make big films,” says Bambu producer Ramón Campos.