(Solo: A Star Wars Story image: Lucasfilm Ltd)

Spain boasts 8,000 kilometres of coastline as well as deserts, mountains, fascinating cities and various national and regional financial incentives. The Canary Islands are particularly film-friendly.

An agreeable climate, huge diversity in its natural and urban landscapes and reliable infrastructure and crew ensure Spain remains a popular destination for international shoots. The country’s national tax rebate for international film and TV shoots increased to 20% from 15% last year and in the Canary Islands it went up to 40%. There is also a 35% tax credit in Navarre, the autonomous province in northern Spain.

Additionally, the Canary Islands has a special fiscal regime that allows audiovisual companies that establish themselves on the islands to pay a reduced 4% rate of corporate income tax, instead of the 25% applied in the rest of Spain. Fourteen companies applied to be part of the Zona Especial Canaria (ZEC) in 2017, up from six in 2015. The majority of these specialise in animation, says Natacha Mora, co-ordinator for both the audiovisual department of the Canary Islands government and Canary Islands Film.

Spain boasts a large number of heritage sites that are suited to period films as well as modern urban architecture. The country’s landscapes include mountain ranges and forests, as well as deserts, tropical-looking beaches and dramatic rocky cliffs. A good-value transportation network, as well as access to well-trained crew, are also part of Spain’s appeal.

HBO’s Game Of Thrones was a regular visitor around the country, from Andalusia to Catalonia, Navarre and the Basque Country. Further international TV shows to have used Spanish locations include the BBC’s Doctor Who, which has shot in the Canary Islands and visited Valencia, and Net­flix’s Black Mirror, which has also filmed on the Canary Islands.

Spain also hosted several major feature shoots in 2017, including scenes for Disney/Lucasfilm’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, Jacques Audiard’s western The Sisters Brothers for Why Not Productions and Annapurna Pictures, Terry Gilliam’s long-delayed The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, originally for Amazon Studios, and Dan Fogelman’s Life Itself for FilmNation. In 2018, Andalusia is hosting scenes for Reed Morano’s The Rhythm Section, produced by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson, and starring Blake Lively and Jude Law for Global Road, and the second series of Sony’s Snatch, starring Rupert Grint, which shot for four months on the Costa del Sol.

Jose Luis Escolar, a line producer and second-unit director on international productions including the BBC’s The Night Manager and ABC’s Still Star-Crossed with his company Calle Cruzada, says: “My experience is that directors and producers that come to work in Spain always want to come back. The locations are interesting, there’s good value for money and things work, from the transport network to hotels, crews and extras.”

But, he adds, Spain needs to further enhance the tax rebate and invest in a world-class studio facility to remain internationally competitive.

The Lowdown – Mainland Spain

Financial incentives

Spain offers a 20% tax rebate of up to $3.7m (€3m) per production on feature-length films, TV series, animated films and documentaries with a minimum local spend of $1.1m (€1m). The rebate rises to 40% in the Canary Islands, with a minimum spend of $1.1m (€1m) and projects able to receive a rebate of up to $5.6m (€4.5m).

Full details on financial incentives in Spain: Shooting in Spain

Infrastructure and crews

Crews are accomplished and the feedback from international producers on production assistants, sound, art and cinematography crews is very good. Spain can also provide specialist crew for underwater shoots.

Size matters

A high-speed train network, 290,000 kilometres of motorway and roads and 48 airports help international crews move around Spain’s nearly 520,000 square kilometres, including 8,000 kilometres of coastline. Productions can move from snowy mountain peaks to a big city or the beach in a few hours. The majority of Spain’s islands also have international airports, thanks to the country’s well-established tourist industry, as well as a huge array of hotels and restaurants, with most offering services that are very good value.

First person to contact

Sarah Dominguez

The Lowdown – Canary Islands

Financial incentives

The Canary Islands – Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Gomera and La Palma – have a different tax regime from the rest of Spain. International producers can claim a 40% tax rebate of up to $5.6m (€4.5m) on expenses incurred on the islands as long as the local spend is at least $1.1m (€1m). A special fiscal regime allows audiovisual companies that establish a base on the islands to pay a reduced rate of 4% of corporate income tax instead of the 25% applied in the rest of Spain.

Full details on financial incentives in the Canary Islands: Canary Islands Film

Infrastructure and crews

Thanks to its growing popularity, the Canary Islands now boast first-rate technicians and service companies such as Volcano Films, which worked on 20th Century Fox’s Exodus: Gods And Kings and Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Evolution, and Sur-Film, which worked on Universal’s Fast & Furious 6 and In The Heart Of The Sea, and Solo: A Star Wars Story. International productions tend to come for the exteriors but the islands also provide facilities such as the Plato del Atlantico studio complex in Tenerife with three broadcast stages (of 420 square metres and 550 square metres each for the other two). In Gran Canaria the construction of a new film studio has started that will have two independent sound stages of 1,200 square metres and 1,800 square metres respectively, with a height of 12 metres. They should be ready by the second half of 2019.

Size matters

The islands’ well-developed tourist industry means all have airports that connect with mainland Spain and, seasonally, many European capitals (Tenerife is served all year round). Accommodation is plentiful and there are regular ferry services if required to ship heavy equipment.

First person to contact

Natacha Mora, audiovisual department of the Canary Islands government and Canary Islands Film:


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