It’s been a short time since the Spanish government launched a new increase in its international film and TV productions incentives. This bold move has rapidly put Spain at the level of the most attractive international shoot locales.
In 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, Spain already saw a muscular rise in tax breaks, but the really killer hike came last December, with new record tax advantages, which raised relief for international productions to up to €20 million ($21.2 million) per movie and – even more transcendent – $10.6 million for any single series episode.
Early positive effects were confirmed March 15 at a presentation held at the Malaga Film Festival, as part of the fast expanding and ambitious Mafiz-Spanish Screenings industry zone.
There, leading executives from top Spanish film commissions and offices shared the enthusiastic reactions by key international players and a work overflow due to the increasing demand for information for shooting in Spain, which suggest a bigger than ever foreign interest.
The new measures, effective from Jan. 1, set deduction rates for foreign productions at 30% for the first $1.1 million of deductible expenses and 25% for the rest in peninsular Spain.
“The cap rise, and especially the increase of the return for TV series episodes, something expected by the industry, has perhaps started to unlock some big international projects, boosting the interest in Spain,” said Spanish Film Commission CEO, Teresa Azcona.
“International projects that have not looked at Spain are beginning to do so, especially the big ones,” Azcona added.
Spain started to compete in 2015 in the race to attract big international shoots. 2020 marked a milestone for the industry but this year is marking another critical before-and-after.
“At November’s American Film Market, a possible rise of the cap was a recurrent question from U.S. studios and big production companies. I’m sure the new measures (once confirmed) have made them look at us in a different way. Right now many of their projects in Spain are being unlocked,” Azcona said.
“At February’s Berlinale, there were many questions from international producers, interested in how the new incentives work, what possibilities they offer, their security… Much more than in any other past markets,” agreed Rafael Cabrera, Film Madrid co-ordinator.
“We are experiencing an increase in consultations. There are many queries, especially in those Spanish territories operating a special tax regime,” Azcona points out.
The Canary Islands, with a special tax regime, offer now an exceptional 50%-45% tax incentive, and the cap has been set at $38.2 million, one of the highest in Europe.
Ceilings on fiscal incentives enjoyed by TV productions have been raised to $19.1 million per episode.
“The increase in investment in 2022 compared to 2021 has not been accompanied by a substantial rise in the number of shoots,” explained Canary Islands Film co-ordinator Natacha Mora.
“We understand that this is closely related to the fact that the issue of the limit on the incentive was not clarified until October 2021: The Canary Islands’ incentive will always be 80% above Spain’s general tax incentives,” she said.
The Canary Islands accounted for a $104 million investment in film and TV shoots in 2021; $238 million in 2022 when big international productions such as “Jack Ryan” and “Foundation” rolled there.
Probably, some of the big productions that landed in the Islands stayed more time, attracted by the expectation of new deductions.
In the Basque Country, the province of Bizkaia announced last year an up-to-70% incentive for national and international co-productions of film and TV series shootings, with no cap at all, also starting Jan. 1.
“We have significantly perceived a dizzying increase in the number of inquiries to know our tax incentives in depth,” said Agustín Atxa, co-ordinator at Bilbao Bizkaia Film Commission.
“A large number of big productions, both local and beyond projects, kicked-off this March in Bizkaia, which will obviously lead us towards a record year,” Atxa announced.
In another roundtable Wednesday at the Malaga Film Festival-Mafiz industry event, professionals and key agents from the Spanish film and TV industry discussed future trends in sustainability in the sector.
A study led by SFC within the framework of the Spain Film Friendly Land project aims to identify new initiatives, best practices and areas of improvement in the field of sustainability.
“The demand for training by companies, professionals and administration technicians and the articulation of homogeneous training programs will be key to advancing in the sustainability of the industry,” said SFC’s CEO Teresa Azcona.
One of Spain’s earliest companies to embrace sustainability has been Morena Films. Lensing 2022 Sundance horror film “Cerdita,” one of the most acclaimed of recent Spanish movies, “Morena offset 40% of its carbon footprint by planting trees in the Bosque del Cine in Northern Spain’s Cantabria,” explained María Soler, assistant producer & ecomanager at the Madrid-based company.
Morena has also incorporated other social components. “Cerdita” filmed in the rural town of La Vera, northern Extremadura. “Before and after “Cerdita’s” shoot we tried to make the film visible, spending as much as possible in the zone where we shot, promoting the area as a destiny for film. Also we set up a toy library to promote family conciliation by a team which was 60% women,” Soler explained.