In early May, the government of Spain wined and dined 40 Hollywood executives during a week of conferences, meetings and visits as part of the country’s aim to become the audiovisual hub of Europe. (In the interests of transparency, I was the master of ceremonies for the first two days of conferences, which took place in Madrid.) Making it easier for U.S. filmmakers to shoot in Spain is good for business and jobs, but it is also a smart public diplomacy move.
Rather than simply running a PR campaign to remind Hollywood of all the reasons why film productions should come to Spain, however, the Ministry of Economy has done the hard work of bringing together a complex network of agencies to make industry-specific policy to that end. After all, many countries have picturesque locations to offer. Leading with policy is what can ultimately give Spain a leg up in the competition to attract high-profile productions. And Madrid also hopes to leverage that appeal to create a world-class audiovisual industry—with the international visibility and bragging rights that accompany it.
Spain is blessed with near year-round sunshine, an enormous range of landscapes and endless amounts of historical architecture that already make it an attractive location for film productions. Now the government is sweetening the deal by spending 1.6 billion euros, or roughly $1.7 billion, on a three-pronged approach that comprises tax incentives, industry-friendly visas and a plan to train 40,000 young people in the various technical areas of the audiovisual arts. To make things easier, they have set up an online information hub for the project called Spain Audiovisual Hub of Europe. The stated goal is to increase business by 30 percent by 2025.