Written by New Contact on Mar 4, 2011. Posted in Interviews

TLG talks to Elsa Martinez, new Chairwoman of the Spain Film Commission

The Location Guide talks to the Spain Film Commission's new Chairwoman to find out about her plans for Spain's audiovisual industry, how Spain is seen internationally and the prospects for future filming incentives.

What’s your background and what was your route to your new position?
I became chairwoman of the Spain Film Commission as a result of my position as Director of Ciudad de la Luz – Comunitat Valenciana Film Commission and the Comunitat Valenciana Film Offices Network, as well as CEO of the film studios Ciudad de la Luz in Alicante. I’ve also had the honour of being elected member of the Board of the European Film Commission Network.

What do you hope to achieve as President?
I will try to promote the audiovisual industry in Spain and attract shoots to our country. For that reason we have to professionalise the association, make good reports on the economical and touristic impact of the films, promote our image internationally, open new markets both geographically and thematically speaking (in terms of TV and commercials too), improve our website, increase the number of members, raise more funds, work on film commissioners’ training, organise congresses, visits and events.

What do you think are the existing strengths of the Commission?
Spain is the third most popular tourist destination in the world and not only for its nice weather, its more than 300 sunny days per year, its food, its quality of life and its varied locations (beaches, mountains, countryside, modern cities…). It also has cutting-edge transport infrastructures, with the most complete high-speed train network in Europe. Moreover, Spain is a safe country with one of the best public health systems in the world, not to mention the wide roster of audiovisual professionals who are used to dealing with international productions.

Spain has cutting-edge transport infrastructure, with the most complete high-speed train network in Europe. Moreover, Spain is a safe country with one of the best public health systems in the world, not to mention the wide roster of audiovisual professionals who are used to dealing with international productions.

We also have a very competitive offer in accommodation and an industrial film complex that’s unique within Europe, Ciudad de la Luz studios, with state of the art technology and everything you may need while shooting a big blockbuster.

Do you plan to focus on any specific areas of the Spanish industry? Do you have specific targets?
Step by step I would like to reach something that stills sounds a bit like a utopia. To be able to give incentives to any foreign production for shooting in Spain, but without damaging Spanish producers, because they are the first we should take care of. Actually the incentives are only given provided that there is a co-production. The problem is that doing so we lose productions and therefore their economical impact in our territory.

Will the Commission be pushing for national filming incentives in the immediate future?
We’re working on it. We’re getting in touch with other audiovisual institutions to join forces and create a solid framework.

As for filming incentives, we’re working on it. We’re getting in touch with other audiovisual institutions to join forces and create a solid framework.

How do you think Spain is seen internationally as a filming industry?
I think Spain has a wide group of professionals who are very competent at both the technical and the artistic side – that’s well known abroad. We have to keep on with it and improve training opportunities. One of the issues we should care more about is, perhaps, our image as a brand. Spain is an awesome country, vanguardist, with deep culture, renowned professionals in many areas, science, literature, sports, arts or gastronomy, with leading universities… I don’t know if all that is well known abroad. Improving our image as a brand will undoubtedly enhance the image of our powerful audiovisual industry.

How have your first three months in the job been?
It’s been crazy and busy, but also fascinating. Being the chairwoman of Spain Film Commission, a non profit organization, you need to have an unconditional passion for cinema and the belief that your country is an ideal place for shooting. You need a lot of faith in the audiovisual industry and a lot of energy to fight for it all.

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