Spain has long had the power to attract international shoots because of the diversity of its natural and urban landscapes. These range from deep forests to deserts, and medieval villages to 21st-century cities and nearly 8,000km of coastline. A lovely climate and the reputation of efficient and inexpensive crews are also part of the package.
The country benefits from generous tax rebates that came into force in January 2015 to attract international film and TV producers. These offer a 15% tax rebate in Spain, and up to 35% in the Canary Islands and Navarra. Word of mouth goes far too. Carlos Rosado, president of Spain Film Commission, points out that since Ridley Scott shot Exodus: Gods And Kings in Almeria and on Fuerteventura, and HBO brought Game Of Thrones to Seville and Osuna, there has been a significant rise in the number of film-makers contacting the commission. “It’s a virtuous circle in which the films and TV series are the best advert one can hope for,” he says.
Indeed HBO was back for the sixth season of Games Of Thrones shooting in even more locations, including Valencia and Catalonia, and will film parts of season seven in Andalucia, Extremadura and the Basque Country. Further international TV series to have shot in Spain include BBC/AMC coproduction The Night Manager, which shot in Mallorca and Madrid last year, as well as the third season of Penny Dreadful, and Nickelodeon’s Lost In The West, which are both shooting in Almeria desert.
Period drama television series Still Star-Crossed is shooting in Caceres and Salamanca. Netflix, established in Spain last year, has also chosen to produce 1920s-set Cable Girls in Spain with a local cast and crew. Other international productions include Me Before You, which shot in Mallorca and, 20th Century Fox’s Assassin’s Creed, with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, which shot partly in Andalucia. Paramount’s Allied, with Cotillard and Brad Pitt, took in locations on the Canary Islands.
International film and TV producers with a minimum local spend of $1.1m (€1m) can access a 15% tax credit. This rises to 35% in the Canary Islands and Navarra. Productions must work with a Spanish partner although it does not have to be an official co-production.
Full details on financial incentives in Spain: Shooting in Spain
Infrastructure and crews
Spain’s airport, road and rail networks provide easy access to most of the country’s locations as well as international destinations. As a popular tourist destination, Spain has a wide range of accommodation for talent and crew. Local technicians are experienced and are used repeatedly by international companies. Their talent, knowledge of English and low salaries are a bonus. Location scouts, art directors, cinematographers, sound technicians and make-up artists are frequently called to work on international shoots.
Improvement would come with access to a big studio. Despite facilities such as Palma Pictures’ 48,400 sq ft complex on the Balearic island of Mallorca and the four-stage Parc Audiovisual de Catalunya near Barcelona (where the interiors of JA Bayona’s A Monster Calls were filmed), the closing in 2012 of Spain’s biggest facility, Ciudad de la Luz in Alicante, has meant the loss of some potential shoots to Eastern Europe. Fernando Trueba had to go to Budapest to find the appropriate-sized studio to shoot The Queen Of Spain with Penelope Cruz, a film that recreates 1950s Spain when the country became a popular Hollywood location.
The airport, road and rail infrastructure, suggests Carlos Rosado of Spain Film Commission, helped Ridley Scott choose Spain over further-flung destinations for Exodus. “He said he could take a flight to London and be home in a couple of hours, which was very tempting.”
Alain Bainée, production designer, The Machinist, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Abracadabra
“What makes Spain special as a shooting location is good weather and the diversity of landscapes. You can go from a snowy mountain range to an almost tropical-looking beach in a matter of hours.”
First person to call
Need to know
- DO consider accommodation from the Paradores network. This includes places of historical significance and great natural beauty as well as city hotels and rural houses.
- DO remember to utilise the country’s many helpful and efficient film commissions.
- DON’T forget to visit the mountain railway El Tren dels Llacs in Catalonia, which boasts spectacular scenery.