Production Spend Quadruples in Spain’s Bilbao-Bizkaia as Tax Credits Kick In

The incontrovertible and immediate effect of muscular tax credits, entering in force in 2023, have powered to a new level the shoot scene in Bilbao and Bizkaia – the Basque city and surrounding province in Northern Spain.

Introduced on Jan. 1, 2023, the new incentives offer an up-to-60% tax deduction for national and international co-productions of film and TV projects.

More from Variety

Enticing studios such as Toboggan and production houses Buendía Estudios and Tornasol to set up in Bizkaia and streaming giant Netflix to invest in original productions, the territory is fast capitalizing on its breaks.

Over 2023, 151 shoots filmed in Bilbao-Bizkaia, 76 from the Basque Country, 47 from Spain and 28 from abroad, according to the Bilbao-Bizkaia 2023 Year Book.

Total shoot spend in 2023 came in at €58.5 million ($63.7 million), 324% up on 2019’s figure of €13.8 million ($15.0 million. Spend includes the employment of 1,113 cast or crew members.

The indirect economic impact is estimated at €139.6 million ($152.2 million), six times up on €23.5 million ($25.6 million) in 2021. In all, productions shot 1,026 days in Bilbao or in the rest of Bizkaia, 74% more than 2022. The fact that the increase in spend is way up on this is that Bilbao and Bizkaia are attracting ever bigger shoots not just more titles.


Film feature shoots were up 140% from 5 in 2022 to 12 last year. Series climbed 40% from 5 to 7.

“Bilbao Bizkaia has positioned itself in 2023 as a competitive and attractive destination for Spain and Europe’s audiovisual industry,” said Xabier Ochandiano, the Bilbao Town Hall councillor for Economic Development, Business, Tourism and Employment.

“We offer tax breaks, legal security, a political commitment, experienced professionals, unique locations and personalized support. Shooting in Bilbao-Bizkaia is a guarantee of success. Those who work in the city and territory always come back,” he added.

The Bilbao Town Hall is now working on the creation of a Bilbao Audiovisual Hub, in response to the global needs of the sector and the growing demand for production service infrastructure.

2023 productions which shot in Bilbao-Bizkaia take in Netflix’s “The Platform 2,” the second part of Galder Gaztelu-Urrutoa’s social-issue horror-triller which rates as the fourth most-watched non-English-language film on Netflix ever.

Detective Touré
Detective Touré

Starring Hovik Keuchkerian (“Money Heist”) and Milena Smit (“Parallel Mothers”) and produced once more by Basque Films, headed by Carlos Juárez, the sequel lensed in Bilbao and Barakaldo, once Bilbao region’s industrial center, now undergoing rapid redevelopment.

Further 2023 shoots take in “Anatema,” with Leonor Watling (“Talk To Her”), for Alex de la Iglesia’s Banijay-owned Pookespie Films and Sony Pictures International Productions; the Ibon Cormenzana-directed “The Bus of Life,” from his Barcelona-based label Arcadia Motion Pictures, producer of Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s Cesar and Goya winner “The Beasts” and Neon U.S. pick-up Oscar-nominated “Robot Dreams”; and “Marco,” from ‘The Endless Trench’ directors Aitor Arregi and Jon Garaño and Irusoin and Moriarti Produkzioak.      

Disney+’s “The Other Side,” RTVE’s “Detective Touré,” Atresmedia/Disney+’s “Angela,” and Movistar Plus+’s “Querer”also shot in Bilbao-Bizkaia last year as Spain’s biggest players and top independents flock to the territory.

International shoots took in National Geographic’s “Europe From Above,” Tokyo Broadcasting’s “Fushigi Hakkken” and “James Martin’s Spanish Adventure” for ITV.

Among reasons for choosing to shoot in Bilbao-Bizkaia, producers adduced tax credits and subsidies (4.73/5), followed by past experience (4.22/5) and locations (4.08/5). The Bilbao-Bizkaia Film Commission scored 4.9/5, with producers highlighting its personalised attention and flexibility when adapting to their specific needs.

As the battle to attract shoots will become all the more competitive in the future, commissions’ quality will count all the more as well.


Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.