Palma Pictures’ Matteo De Castello and Trent Walton on why it’s the perfect time for film-makers to shoot long form productions in Spain
With its wide variety of locations, large freelance network and constant sunshine, it’s not hard to see why Spain has always been a favourable shooting destination over the years - particularly for neighbouring Europeans. However, the recent introduction of 15% tax breaks for long form productions has given the country a long-awaited financial incentive for production companies. Matteo de Castello, former Business and Commercial Affairs Executive at Scott Free Films, has joined Palma Pictures at this pivotal time to help international companies harness this new government funding. Matteo and Trent Walton, Partner and Executive Producer at Palma Pictures, discuss why it’s good to have Spain in mind.
Q > What would you like to see in the future for Spain in terms of production or long-form and TV?
Trent Walton > A bigger tax credit, of course! Spain can compete in all other areas – locations, weather, crew, equipment, travel, gastronomy – so an increase in tax credits would open up endless possibilities for the country to attract bigger and better productions.
Matteo de Castello > I agree. This would definitely help us become more competitive as a country and would put us straight at the top of the list because we are already among the top destinations for filming. I hope that the new government in Spain will recognise the impact it could have on the country and consider doing something about it.
Q: How do the benefits compare to other countries?
TW > Our headline figure is 15% across mainland Spain, rising steeply to 35% in the Canary Islands. Many of our competitors sit nearer the 25% mark.
Q > Matteo, what made you want to take on this role and what does this mean for Palma Pictures?
MC > My years at Scott Free Films were an amazing experience and I owe them a lot, but it was time to move on and to do something very different. I was aware of Palma Pictures, the main reason being because I was a big fan of Sky 1’s ‘Mad Dogs’ which was all filmed with them. They’ve been involved in some really exciting projects and in the last few years Palma Pictures have managed to grow from having a small footprint in long form production services into something much bigger. The potential to do TV and Film in mainland Spain and Palma is incredible, which is where my role has opened up.
I’m heading up business development for TV and film. It’s a new role born out of the increasing demand and opportunities for Palma Pictures, so this is a very exciting time. With the new tax incentives in place, I feel confident that this is the right moment for us to let people know that we can offer this amazing service and it’s my job to facilitate this.
TW > 2015 was a brilliant year for us in terms of long form productions. We shot parts of 'The Night Manager' for BBC/AMC/The Ink Factory, 'Behold The Monkey' for Sky Arts, 'Me Before You' for MGM, 'Un Petit Boulot' for Gaumont, and 'Love Island' for ITV Studios. We wanted to capitalise on this success and hire an International Sales Producer for long form for the first time.
After meeting Matteo, we immediately offered him the job. He has a natural flair for sales and his background in acting and law makes him uniquely qualified for the role. He has a charming Italian outlook on life and fits right in with the team. With London being our biggest client base, it’s an enormous benefit to have Matteo based in the city to promote our services and raise awareness about the new tax incentives.
Q: Trent, Palma Pictures have been around for 23 years. What´s changed in your offering that keeps you at the forefront of production?
TW > We’re all about the people. We are a values-driven company so we’re mindful of this when hiring staff and crew. We’ve always strived to offer top-notch production and we learnt a long time ago that streamlining the process and making sure everything runs as smoothly as possible is a key factor in clients returning to use our services.
The question of tax incentives is always raised without fail in any fresh enquiry we receive. Until last year, Spain didn’t have much to shout about in this regard but the new tax credit is set to change all of that. Spanish producers have noted that the new incentive is not competitive compared to other shooting destinations and they certainly have a point. But judging from the international filmmaking community’s overwhelmingly positive reaction, we can see that this is no small deal. Spain has long been the ideal shooting location and this new tax incentive adds another great reason to choose the country.
Q: Trent, Palma Pictures has its roots in the Balearics. Why do people also choose you for shooting on the mainland?
TW > We’ve built up a reputation for delivering world-class production services while the international nature of our team allows us to facilitate clients from all over the world. We have a permanently staffed office in Barcelona so we’re capable of running the bulk of our mainland shoots from there. Our wide-reaching network of people and resources allows us to service throughout Spain, even if you’re looking for a remote location which is difficult to access, like the deserts of Almeria. It’s far more cost effective and time-efficient for us to organise everything, rather than producers having to provide and transport all of the necessary crew and equipment. Our team has probably tried and tested all of the providers in Spain. However, sometimes the smarter choice is to put all of our own people and equipment on the ferry and drive it across to the mainland.
Matteo De Castello (left) with James Whetherly (right) at Palma Pictures' London 2016 party
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