Filming on location in Spain with Xavier Doncel of Albiñana Films
Xavier worked as a runner and PA while studying Law and in fact was then a criminal lawyer for a decade before Gianni Ruggiero, a great classic TVC director Xavier knew, persuaded him to be his producer.
A couple of years later, Ramses Albiñana asked Xavier to develop Albiñana Films’ international department, which he’s been doing now for ten years.
What can you tell me about the region that you cover?
Currently Albiñana Films covers Spain and Portugal, and we just opened a new office in São Paulo, Brazil. We have production offices in Madrid and Lisbon, and our own studio in Barcelona where we also have a casting department, a set construction team and post-production facilities. We can provide great full production services on the Iberian Peninsula.
What locations are most commonly used by film and TV crews?
Usually our clients are looking for the good weather associated with Spain to shoot exteriors. Barcelona offers a great variety of architecture that not only looks Spanish, but European as well. However, due to our expertise and low costs in set construction – as well as having our own premises - our clients have recently asked us to build sets for them.
Usually our clients are looking for the good weather associated with Spain to shoot exteriors. Barcelona offers a great variety of architecture that not only looks Spanish, but European as well.
What are the more unusual locations in your region that our readers would not necessarily associate with Spain?
We have the Pyrenees mountains with peaks of 3,000 metres and snow until April, which are a two-hour drive from Barcelona. Then there are the desert-like landscapes of south-eastern Spain made famous by spaghetti westerns in the 1960s, and which have been used recently to double for Baghdad in several scenes from the war drama Green Zone.
What has been your most difficult location assignment to date?
Well, a car shoot with a Russian arm in the old part of Barcelona stressed me a little. We didn’t have an official traffic permit and I was dealing with local police who freaked out, but a good part of working with Spanish authorities if you know how to deal with them and show them that you have everything under control. You can do nearly everything you need to do to get beautiful footage.
What types of production do you work on most?
We mostly do commercials. We also help and co-produce short films, music videos and documentaries for our in-house directors. We just shot with Filmmaster Milan for Nestle and we worked with Milagro Films on a Capri Sun commercial.
Can you offer any tips for regional filming?
The Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) is a very easy place to shoot in. It combines great locations with great weather, highly professional crew and equipment with minimal bureaucracy. We are used to last-minute changes and we are proud of the extreme flexibility of our crews, as well as our ability to satisfy our clients.
Which producers, production companies and directors have you most enjoyed working with?
We have established a friendship over the years with Karim Bartoletti, Ada Bonvini and Lilli Auteri from Filmmaster Italy. Then there’s Sergio Nicolau from Milagro Films USA, Benjamin Auberdiac from The Shop France and Yoon-Seok Nam from Keystone Films, also in France. Nowadays they are like part of the Albiñana family for us. We share our directors and we co-produce together.
What are the most film-crew-friendly hotels in your region and where is your favourite wrap party venue?
We have good deals with Barcelona Hotel Pulitzer, Madrid Hotel Room and Lisbon Hotel Heritage. These cities are really crew-friendly cities. They are well known for their culture, gastronomy, their nightlife and shopping. For wrap parties, depending on the profiles of our clients and what is happening in the city we are shooting, we try to organise an unforgettable wrap party. That is what we Spaniards do best; party!
The Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) is a very easy place to shoot in. It combines great locations with great weather, highly professional crew and equipment with minimal bureaucracy.
There are usually set costs for Public Liability cover for film units and costs for insuring locations. Can you tell us about location insurance and possibly examples of costs in your region?
With our company insurance policy we cover all public liability costs for film production while shooting in Spain or Portugal.
What would you recommend crew and cast do to have fun and relax after a shoot?
Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon really have a great variety of things to do. I always choose a clever and communicative chaperone for my clients in order to offer them personalised post-shoot activities. In Barcelona I usually organise a day trip for art-lover clients to the picturesque village of Cadaqués to visit Port lligat, the house of Salvador Dali. Then it’s on to a nice lunch near the sea before visiting the Dali museum in Figueres.
What do you do to relax after a full-on location shoot?
Well I really enjoying nature sports, riding my mountain bike over the hills of Collserola in Barcelona, or surfing in la Barceloneta . Then I like to have a tasty dinner in a terrace in front of the sea with good food, wine and good friends. It recharges my batteries immediately and gets me ready for a new exciting project.
To contact Xavier, please click here.
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