How Spanish promotional body ICEX plans to supercharge growth

Pablo Conde, ICEX

TBI speaks to Pablo Conde Diez del Corral, director at Spanish trade organisation ICEX, to find out how the country is planning to double down on its support for the country’s audiovisual ecosystem.  

Spanish drama is booming and global demand is soaring, with huge investments going into productions from the country, from both local operators and global streamers.

The Spanish government is looking to support this growth via its foreign trade agency ICEX and has unveiled plans to boost the audiovisual industry to new heights, with a three-year, €1.6bn ($1.6bn) investment plan. Pablo Conde Diez del Corral, director at Spanish trade organisation ICEX, tells TBI how.

What is driving the surging demand for Spanish programming around the world?

I have to say that the global streamers have opened a completely new market for our content. Streaming video is the most transformative phenomenon in recent years in the media world. It has enabled content to travel and succeed beyond borders. While Spanish content has been around for decades, the proliferation of OTT platforms and their need for an extensive portfolio has caused a democratization of our content around the world. Today’s viewers have access to many more films and shows produced in any corner of the world than they have ever had before. And the presence of non-English shows among the most watched series ranking lists elaborated by various platforms is proof that viewers are making use of this opportunity.

Content made in Spain has proven the ability to connect inside and outside our borders; non-English shows and features, many of them thankfully from Spain, are becoming more mainstream. That means that the story is what really matters and how it is told. It’s not as much about language but about genre, quality production and of course talent.

How is ICEX/Audiovisual from Spain supporting local producers to make the most of this demand?

The key mission of ICEX Spain Trade & Investment through its umbrella brand Audiovisual from Spain is to support the international promotion of content and services offered by Spanish production and distribution companies.

We give them promotional tools and support to make Spanish content travel and be known by buyers around the world, supporting them to attend all the key international markets like Mipcom, Content London or Natpe and the more genre-focus summits such as Cartoon Forum, Series Mania Forum, MIFA or Sunny Side of the Doc, as well as other networking events which are nowadays a basic piece of our calendar of activities every year.

International co-productions have become hugely popular, what is ICEX/Audiovisual from Spain doing on this front?

Access to funding is one of the main challenges any producer faces, co-production being a good solution. Spanish producers are no different, therefore through Audiovisual from Spain we are supporting a broad concept of co-production and that means being very close to producers and providing increasingly broad support for our companies to participate in events focused on international co-production projects. We support them in breaking down cultural barriers and organize activities in the main markets and international meetings. In some cases we present ourselves as the perfect country to do co-productions with other European countries and in other cases we are the partner that can open doors in America (clearly in Latin America), where we have a long tradition as co-producers, for example in cinema and scripted series.

We are aware that we have to support talent, creators and companies in parallel and that means in many cases supporting projects from a very early stage, so that they can be viable and the only formula in many cases is co-production.

There is a great demand not only for ready-made content but also for the Spanish industry and its professionals, and ICEX also helps to make these meetings with behind-the-scenes talent feasible.

Spanish programming – dramas in particular – have already cut through globally. What are the next steps to ensure continued growth?

We have to make sure that this phenomenon is not just a trend but the beginning of a new phase as a global player. To this end, the Spanish government has designed a plan to boost the audiovisual sector, providing it with economic resources and giving priority and relevance to the audiovisual industry as never before in our country. The ‘Spain, Audiovisual Hub of Europe’ Plan (Spain AVS Hub Plan), is a global action plan to transform the current Spanish audiovisual ecosystem as a whole, considering the sector in a broad sense. The Plan has a budget of €1.6bn ($1.6bn) and aims to increase content production by 30% in the next three years.

In recent years we have experienced a great demand for Spanish content, and fortunately, not only for finished content, but also for screenwriters, directors, actors, technical crews… we are living in a very special moment in which the Spanish industry and its professionals can be counted on. We have a network of talented professionals at every step of the production process and the ICEX task, together with other public institutions, is to help them to grow and consolidate through the development of this Plan and its implementation.

ICEX/Audiovisual from Spain is also helping forge strong international partnerships, can you tell us about this strategy?

In the audiovisual sector, as with any other business sector, partnerships are based in trust, not only for the sake of finance or tax incentives. It should be the consequence of the needs of a specific project. Stories, talent, locations must be relevant to the project and to all partners involved. Our role is to help towards creating those relationships that may lead for example to international co-productions.

In every international meeting in which we participate, we are generating activities to foster and enhance professional relationships for our companies and we also believe it is very important to give a voice to our executives and talent in panels in which they can place value on all that we can offer as an industry, both in terms of content and projects and in terms of qualified teams, incentives and tax benefits, locations, etc.

Spain is increasingly of interest for international producers, distributors, broadcasters/streamers and investors. What is the best way for these companies to engage with Spanish firms and how can ICEX/Audiovisual from Spain help?

Audiovisual from Spain is present at all international events and at all of them our staff is always ready to help any professional who needs guidance or assistance in finding a content provider or potential partner in Spain.

One of the basic tools developed by ICEX has just been presented: Spain Audiovisual Bureau, a centralized point of information related to the internationalization of the audiovisual industry. A meeting point for companies and talent that provides support to all activities related to the creation, production and distribution of audiovisual content, including animation. It is a way to get to know partners that would suit them best. It will answer in less than seven days any query you may have, for example, about visas or possible locations if you want to shoot in Spain.

Pablo Conde Diez del Corral is director for fashion, habitat & cultural industries at ICEX Spain, which houses Audiovisual from Spain – the brand that groups Spanish companies in the film and television content sector for their international promotion at all the international trade shows around the globe.

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