The second edition of Valladolid’s Shooting Locations Marketplace (SLM) assembled audio visual professionals from 12 nationalities – which saw producers and locations scouts promote their services, share their insights and profile their shooting destinations on an international stage.
The event was organised by Feria de Valladolid and Spain Film Commission, which welcomed industry leaders such as NBC Universal's VP physical production James Lin, VP Spain Film Commission, Juan Manuel Guimeráns and national film commissioner for Norway, Meghan Beaton.
Opening the expo, president of the Spain Film Commission, Carlos Rosado, highlighted that “[SLM] starts with magnificent prospects and the challenge of consolidating this meeting as a benchmark for the audiovisual industry in our country and in the world, while contributing to the success of the 'Spain, Europe's Audiovisual HUB' Plan.“
The general director of Feria de Valladolid added “the global nature of the project with the participation of professionals of twelve nationalities has underlined the importance of having, in a second edition, destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Norway, Malta, Poland, Jordan and Great Britain.“
Carlos Rosado also noted the participation of the film commissions and film offices that are members of the Spain Film Commission, which added up to more than twenty-five participating destinations from all over the country, both regionally and locally.
Drawing on his freelance background in locations, Lin opened the summit by immediately noting “the greater the tax incentive, the greater production you'll have.“
“It's across the board for anywhere you go - Spain, Jordan, Croatia - tax incentives now are the biggest driving factor,“ he said, before acknowledging the location professionals in the audience to share his second takeaway: “These individuals are going to be the film commissioner's as well as the film liaison's best secret weapon.
“They are the ones who will bring to the studio ideas that basically say 'this movie can't be made unless we go to the location', and emphasised a film commission's role in inviting scouts and managers to their respective countries to explore the territories.“
From a studio perspective, Lin said the general consensus is that the tax incentive is key, which he dissected into three elements: state, federal and diversity-driven incentives (global talent diversity inclusion).
“When you start to cobble together all the percentages to be in a horse race, be it Valladolid or Andalusia, you can compare they're pretty close, and that way you're splitting hairs to see which one is better and gives us more bang for the buck... and determine which one creatively works the best.
“I emphasise creatively because I saw a movie on the plane with Nicolas Cage [captioned with Mallorca, Spain] but ironically when the credits rolled, there were a lot of Croatian names... so it's just one thing all film commissions can take to heart, is that: if there's an opportunity to go to your constituents in that local government to say 'I know we don't typically offer an above-the-line tax credit, maybe we should offer it'.
“We don't have to go as far as what the crazy Americans do in Atlanta, Georgia and don't have a cap where you basically go and shoot everything in Atlanta, Georgia. You shoot Prague in Atlanta, Georgia... it looks like Georgia. You shoot Paris, France in Atlanta, Georgia... it looks like Georgia. So the hope is that the creative push will push the look of the movie more than anything; but at the end of the day it is the tax incentive.“
National film commissioner for Norway, Meghan Beaton, agreed with Lin in that the number one factor is the incentive. “It's something that I use an awful lot of my time on, working towards the government to constantly make more competitive.“ Norway's incentive, which was introduced in 2016, is a solid budget according to Beaton and has a maximum limit on the yearly budget. “It's designed for very large projects,“ such as the recent No Time to Die, Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning and Dune.
The second key to attract international production is crew and capacity. “We work really diligently to ensure they are working to global best practice and we're quite lucky in Norway that they have a high level of English-speaking competency. So we find we have a seamless integration between the international crew and our national crew. Beaton says the larger projects builds up competency in the national industry which in turn puts funds back into the industry, she added.
Third is strategic partnership and infrastructure access. “I work well with the film workers union but also the producers unit because we're all very motivated to have a competitive workforce. Beaton also stressed the importance of working with the government to ensure producers have access to reach the national parks available to them. What you're showing, is what you can actually see when you come to film,“ concluded Beaton.
Alex Scott, line producer USA, added “there's no movie without the locations.“
“By the time crew talks to a line producer, they already have a script and [locations] are set in place, so they need to find those places“, said Scott. So just remember that you might have a beautiful monument or some location but if it's not in the script it's not going to help us.“
He urged location experts to “remember they are dealing with storytellers so show [them] variety or what's available within one base of operations because you might be working with filmmakers who think creatively and realise 'if I shoot here, I can create my own backlot and can have these different looks within my area'“.
Valladolid is currently playing host to Amazon Prime Video's upcoming thriller series, Memento Mori, based on the work of local writer, César Pérez Gellida.
The series is described as a high-octane police thriller that “explores the relationship between a murderer,“ played by Yon González (Gran Hotel), and a police officer, played by Francisco Ortiz (El Cid), who pursues him in a “duel of life or death.” Juan Echanove (El Cid) plays Carapocha, who helps the policeman.
Fernando Soto (Money Heist), Juan Fernández (Feria) and Carlota Baró (Love is Forever) round out the cast.
Filming of the series began in Valladolid in late September and will run until mid-November. Following this, production will continue in the Canary Islands and Madrid.
Almost all of the story setting of the first novel takes place in Valladolid. El Salvador school serves as a key filming location, which has been dressed and doubling as a police station.
Having visited the sets, Juan Manuel Guimeráns revealed the series presents a “very hectic and different story with a lot of twists... I have a feeling it will be very successful in Spain for sure because the novels were already popular locally.“
He also added: “I think the type of plot [police/thriller/psychological] matches what the international audiences are looking for.“
Zebra Productions, part of Grupo iZen produces the series for Prime Video which plans to stream in Spain, Portugal and Andorra.
Memento Mori is expected to premiere on Prime Video late 2023 or early 2024.