With Netflix Hit ‘Intimacy,’ Disney+’s ‘Balenciaga,’ Basque Country Founds Premium TV Sector


With Txintxua’s series “Intimacy” shooting to No. 1 on Netflix’s global non-English charts this summer and 17 Basque films of ever greater renown participating at the San Sebastian Festival, led by Mikel Gurrea’s feature debut “Suro” and Fernando Franco’s “The Rite of Spring,” the region’s film and TV industry has flashed signs of real growth and international recognition. 

Further advances are expected next year with the launch of up-to-70% tax credits in Bizkaia. 

Leading Basque production company Irusoin backed “Suro” and is producing Disney+’s most notable TV project in Spain, “Balenciaga.” “It makes perfect sense; Disney wanted to make it here because the character and the story originate from the region,” says Irusoin producer Xabi Berzosa who has observed an already crowded market with three to four shoots happening simultaneously, including The Mediapro Studio’s “Pelotaris.” 

“We’ve had problems finding crew as they’re all caught up in movies, series,” he noted, adding: “As soon as the fiscal measures have been approved, many projects will likely move to Biskaia.” 

For “Balenciaga,” Berzosa relates that they had as many as 300 people working on the shoot at any given time. “We had to bring people from outside the region but we were also giving more opportunities to our local hires, who are now more prepared for the next projects that come along,” he said, acknowledging the added value of the residency program Ikusmira Berriak at San Sebastian’s Tabakalera where Gurrea developed “Suro.”

According to Txintxua Films president Marian Fernández, the company set out to make “Intimacy” a premium TV show in terms of the ambition in how it was told, in the writing, and in its production.

“We really wanted it to be a high-quality project, that was clear to us from the onset,” she said, adding that they worked with their usual collaborators in photography, sound, art, costume design etc. The crew and talent were very largely Basque while they worked closely with the series’ writers-creators Veronica Fernández and Laura Sarmiento, she noted. Basque country locations were key in the series. “It was an enormous challenge, we were in a different location every day, from the more industrial areas to the most rural spaces in the mountains,” said Fernandez.

For Txintxua, “Intimacy” could mark a milestone. “We are primed to work on larger budget projects and are open to new formats, new ways of producing, and we have applied our knowledge and talent to this.” said Fernandez, adding: “I believe that we have been growing in such a way that we can naturally take on new, more complex challenges.”

The series has certainly brought Txintxua more renown, Fernandez acknowledges. An acid test of what hat means in practice may be the reception of Asier Altuna’s “Karmele,” produced by Txintxua and one of the biggest projects presented on Sept. 20 at the first San Sebastian Creative Investors Conference, co-organized by CAA Media Finance.