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Tax Incentives Kicking In, Bizkaia Rapidly Fills Production Schedule, Builds On Infrastructure

Bizkaia is seeing a boom in production with freshly implemented tax incentives luring industry leaders from Europe and abroad to the region for ever-more-ambitious audiovisual projects.

The incentives, which kicked off Jan. 1, offer an up-to-70% deduction tax break for national and international co-productions of film and TV projects, with no included cap.

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Already enticing studios such as Toboggan and production houses Buendía Studios and Tornasol to set up in Bizlaia and streaming giant Netflix to invest in original productions, the territory is fast capitalizing on the breaks that work in tandem with its illustrious landscapes, savvy creative and support networks.

According to the Bilbao Bizkaia Film Commission, to date the territory has added more than 230 days of filming from the start of the new incentive. Tornasol and DeAPlaneta backed “Detective Touré,” from Spanish Goya-winning filmmaker David Pérez Sañudo, begins filming in June while the previously shot Netflix backed series “El Silencio” produced by Alea Media and starring Aron Piper (“Elite”), premieres on Friday. Multiple inquiries into 2024 productions are already made.

“The increase in the forecast of filming in Bizkaia has been exponential, both for regional and international productions, there’s a lot of work in the sector and in auxiliary companies that will generate great wealth throughout the territory,” Carlos Juárez of Bilbao’s Basque Films, told Variety.

Basque Films will oversee production on the anticipated sequel to the Netflix horror-thriller film,“The Platform,” among the Top 10 most viewed films in the history of the streamer. The sequel stars Milena Smit (“La chica de nieve”) and Hovik Keuchkerian (“La Casa De Papel”). Juárez admits that the incentive helped lead to the fortuitous outcome when urging the network towards the territory.

“Bizkaia is a region where there’s always been a creative, entrepreneurial spirit, they’re making it very easy for me with “The Platform 2,” both in the field of fiscal support and from the point of view of support from Bilbao Bizkaia Film Commission which has done an enormous job facilitating our filming needs,” he stated.

The region’s film commission, entertainment lawyers and production houses all reiterate that early benefits of the tax incentives are robust while gently reminding the industry that the region was already an attractive option due to its stunning aesthetic and prior sector ties.

With the addition of studios and technical savvy, Bizkaia is further equipped to take on national and international endeavors, elated to showcase their dynamic facilities, training and gainful employment surely in tow.

“I think incentives are necessary, but they’re not the only thing needed to ensure the success of our industry. For tax incentives to be useful, they must be accompanied by a solid portfolio of investors, as well as an infrastructure and an adequate offer of technical services. We come to respond to the latter need, for this we’ve built the first professional soundstage with state-of-the-art facilities, equipped with all the necessary technical components,” relayed Juan Pedro Rodriguez de la Ossa, CEO at Toboggan.

One of the first studios to invest fully in the region, it’0s currently working on “Good Mood,” an international  project with Disney+.

Incentives are acting as a springboard for inquiries about Bizkaia, an already hospitable host for productions. Alfonso del Río, a lawyer specialising in the audiovisual sector who represents Buendía Estudios, is seeing broad interest. His client has already opened a subsidiary in the region to commit resources to its budding audiovisual ecosystem.

“The regional fiscal incentive has meant a focus of attraction and interest at an international level for the territory. There’s an increase in filming that’s several times higher than that seen in previous years in Bizkaia. Even so, we understand that this is only the beginning, since it’s the first fiscal year that the incentive is in force. With what we understand, next year, anticipating that perhaps Gipuzkoa and Álava will also approve a similar incentive, we’ll surely perceive another increase in productions and attracting female producers,” he commented.

He adds: “The tax incentive is the first step towards a flourishing audiovisual sector. Following the initial incentive, more productions will arrive, there’ll be greater training of technicians and the construction of more studios. In short, it’s the beginning of a beautiful path.”

Cementing the region’s dynamic pledge towards becoming a solid industry hub, Xabier Ochandiano, Councillor for economic development, commerce and employment of the Bilbao City Council stated:“The success of a destination is the result of the sum of competitive tax incentives, a complete map of locations, a professional guide with accredited experience, a powerful business fabric, a comprehensive infrastructure and a firm institutional commitment that offers trust and legal certainty.”

He concluded: “Bilbao Bizkaia meets all these requirements and the vigorous entry of the new tax incentives on Jan. 1 is having a positive impact on attracting audiovisual productions, investments and businesses. The balance couldn’t be better.”

Xabier Ochandiano
Xabier Ochandiano

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