Basque Country Sees Signs of Growth in Premium TV & Film

Featuring Txintxua’s series Intimacy, which hits #1 on Netflix’s global non-English chart this summer, and 17 Basque films of increasing acclaim taking part in the San Sebastian Festival, led by Mikel Gurrea’s debut feature Suro and Fernando Francos The Rite of Spring has shown the region’s film and television industry signs of real growth and international recognition.

Further progress is expected next year with the introduction of tax credits of up to 70% in Bizkaia.

Leading Basque production company Irusoin backed Suro and is producing the most notable Disney+ TV project in Spain, Balenciaga. “It makes perfect sense; Disney wanted to make it here because the character and story are local,” says Irusoin producer Xabi Berzosa, who has observed an already crowded market with three to four shoots at a time, including The Mediapro Studio’s “Pelotaris.”

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“We had trouble finding a crew as they are all busy with films and series,” he noted, adding, “Once the fiscal measures are approved, many projects will likely move to Biscay.”

For “Balenciaga,” Berzosa reports that up to 300 people worked on the shoot at the same time. “We had to bring people from outside the region, but we also gave more opportunities to our local staff who are now better prepared for the next projects,” he said, acknowledging the added value of Ikusmira Berriak’s residency program at Tabakalera in San Sebastian, where Gurrea developed “Suro”.

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According to Marian Fernández, President of Txintxua Films, the company wanted Intimacy to be a premium TV show in terms of ambition, how it was told, written and produced.

“We really wanted it to be a quality project, we knew that from the start,” she said, adding that they worked with their usual collaborators in photography, sound, art, costume design, etc. The crew and talent were very largely Basque, while working closely with series writers and creators Veronica Fernández and Laura Sarmiento, she noted. Filming locations in the Basque Country played a key role in the series. “It was an enormous challenge, we were in a different place every day, from industrial areas to the most rural areas in the mountains,” said Fernandez.

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For Txintxua, “Intimacy” could be a milestone. “We’re prepared to work on bigger budget projects and we’re open to new formats, new ways of producing, and we’ve put our knowledge and talent to work on it,” Fernandez said, adding, “I think that’s how we’ve grown that we can of course face new, more complex challenges.”

The series has certainly given Txintxua more exposure, Fernandez concedes. An acid test of what that means in practice could be the reception of Asier Altuna’s Karmele, produced by Txintxua and one of the biggest projects presented on September 20th at the inaugural San Sebastian Creative Investors Conference hosted by CAA Media Finance was co-organised.

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