Drawn to Galicia

Region luring prod'n to its shores

Span- ish director Angel de la Cruz was stunned last year when the producer of his dark comedy "The Dead Go Quickly" pulled the plug on the project after five days of shooting. But De la Cruz pulled his resources together, set up his own shingle — Artmatica — and is going ahead with the film.

One year later, De la Cruz's $3.5 million project has backing from pubcasters TVE and regional channel TVG, with Buenavista set to handle Spanish distribution.

The sputtering start demonstrates the fragility — and resilience — of the production sector in Spain's rural northwestern region of Galicia.

That resilience was on display in November at the recent three-day Galicia-Terra de Cine showcase in La Coruna.

Galicia decided a decade ago to energetically position itself at the forefront of Spanish production, calling film and TV a "preferred sector" with fiscal incentives and investing some €8 million in 2007 in Galician films — independently of the regional broadcaster's own investment.

"(Galicia's) model doesn't exist anywhere in Spain or Europe," says film industry consultant Javier Angulo, founder of Asecine film consultants. "And that is how it has been able to develop an important industry, capable of producing more than 60 projects a year."

An impressive range of projects on display in La Coruna testifies to Galicia's creativity, with veteran director Vicente Aranda's $6.3 million sexy tale "Lolita's Club," co-produced by CTV, and the $5.1 million English-language "The Rain Merchant," co-produced by Formato Prods., side-by-side with Perro Verde's "Going Nuts," which uses animated peanuts, and Filmanova's two new series for mobile phones, "The Elevator" and "Anything Goes."

A historic home for adventurers, Galicia has sought new terrain as sagging theater attendance has crunched Spain's production sector, gambling on more market-friendly product like TV series, documentaries, animation and digital content.

Animation and Galicia have become synonymous in Spain as it has established itself as the home of go-to 3-D studios like Bren Entertainment and Dygra Films. Filmax Animation has previewed its two upcoming releases — "Nocturna" and "Donkey Xote" — and Perro Verde has released a trailer for its "Zombie Western: The Legend of the Dark Butcher," a €3 million ($4.5 million) puppet animation horror film.

"New technology and the digital world allow us a greater agility in our work," said Matriuska's Daniel Froiz Guede, now preparing the animation adventure series "Romance."

Dozens of documentaries — such as Saga TV's €1.4 million "Sofia's Suitcase" or Tic Tac's "What Fault Is That of the Tomato?" — target international audiences, while a plethora of TV movies and series boast imagination.