A new film-TV territory is emerging in Europe: Euroregion NAEN, taking in Nouvelle Aquitaine in France and the Basque Country and Navarre in Spain.
It will make a high-profile industry bow on Sept. 14 at this year’s Conecta Fiction, Europe’s biggest dedicated TV co-production forum with Latin America.
Euroregions have been around for decades. Nouvelle Aquitaine and the Basque Country originally signed a cooperation pact, aimed at stimulating co-operation, back in 1982. Euroregion NAEN has only really come together, however, from 2016 when France forged the super region Nouvelle Aquitaine, merging Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes, and 2017 when Navarre rejoined.
It is only now, moreover, as the huge demand for content in a global platform world propels film and TV up the agenda of Europe’s regions, that they can be expected to make a sizable impact on the sector as a whole. How they aim to do so says much about the cutting edge of expansive economics in Europe’s OTT age.
The first step in Euroregion NAEN’s new phase emergence will take place at Pamplona, in Navarre, on Sept. 14, at Conecta Fiction.
Seven projects will pitch on Sept. 14, vying for a France 3 Nouvelle-Aquitaine Award and EITB Award, two development contracts worth €10,000 ($11,800) a piece, and a direct Euroregion Award grant, tabbed at €6,000 ($7,080). Acorde Music Library Award will grant access to its music library to the value of €1,500 ($1,770) in rights. A Navarra Television Award offers production of a promotional clip and coverage of the winning project in its programming.
These are Euroregion NAEN’s first film-TV prizes. “This is fruit of the joint work of the personnel who manage the audiovisual sector in the three regions and the Euroregion office,” says Ana Herrera Isasi, head of Navarre’s Strategic Digital and Audiovisual Projects Department.
“It’s highly important. Internally, it allows us to share experiences, projects and work methods. From an external point of view, we have a joint presentation as a territory of opportunity for the audiovisual sector,” she adds.
Conecta Fiction will also see the publication of a practical guide to the region, drilling down on its film/TV policy, including grants and tax incentives, plus a contact directory.
Industry meetings as well as coordination between training facilities “can help Basque industry professionals relate to their nearest regions and learn together, which will make them more competitive in a global market,” says Aitziber Atorrasagasti, the Basque government’s director of promotion of culture.
To date, since after Navarre’s renewed membership, the Euroregion has mainly plowed seed money into the sector.
Total funding to date is around €300,000 ($354,000), plowed into 12 projects which must have partners in each of the three regions, says Izaskun Goñi, director general for economic development of the government of Navarra
That may not seem much money. But funding focused on “Very early development, research, creation of a pilot,” she adds.
“Our cross-border first-stage financing can have a leverage effect on projects which go on to tap bigger, weightier funding,” Arola Urdangarín, Euroregion director, points out.
Urdangarín cites “Ainarak” (Swallows), directed by Juan San Martín and starring singer-songwriter Anne Etchegoyen, which wrapped its shoot this June.
Produced by San Sebastian’s Maluta Films and Navarre’s 601 Producciones Audiovisuales, the doc feature, now in post, retraces the annual diaspora from 1870 to 1940 of hundreds of women from Navarre and Aragon to Mauléon in the French Pyrenees, where they worked from fall to spring making canvas shoes. The migration had a profound impact on the women, in personal and cultural terms, but integration was not easy.
“We first financed ‘Ainarak’ as an idea – of linking production houses to tell a story from so many years ago – but without its makers knowing how to achieve it,” Urdangarín recalls.
After backing research, the Euroregion went on to support what was envisaged to be a web doc, but is now backed by Basque pubcaster EiTB.
Euroregional link-ups are still in their infancy: Bordeaux’s France 3 has yet to produce with EiTB for example. But it does look like Euroregion aid will grow.
A new strategic plan, for 2021-27, which will be published shortly, places audiovisual and digital industries among Eurorehion NEAN’s six strategic priorities.
“We will continue to support small projects but will also work on identifying how we can support more ambitious projects in economic terms,” says Goñi.
“We also hope the networking structures we put in place go on to generate private sector Euroregional projects.”
“Co-operation has grown very naturally between the three territories, and the three territories want to go on co-operating,” says Urdangarín. “There’s a demand from the sector, its agents and producers, who want to make cross-border co-production,” she adds.
“Working in the Euroregion opens up two national markets, the Spanish and French. The Basque sector has developed in its natural market, Spain. But ever more Basque producers are attracted by France,” says Aitziber Atorrasagasti, the Basque government’s director of promotion of culture.
The Euroregion can offer co-production and networking events. But it’s also be a “political instrument with the capacity to scale up projects to a European level with other Euroregions,” Atorrasagasti argues. That will also help the Basque industry be more competitive.
Trans-national and even trans-Euroregional projects seems ripe for E.U. backing.
Currently, the sector wants in. Figuring among the finalists for the Euroregion NEAN pitching prizes are Iñaki Gómez, a former producer at top Basque film company Irusoin, Gariza Films, established as one of the Basque Country’s most progressive production houses, veteran producer José María Lara, and Charline de Lépine’s Macondo in France, the company behind hit political thriller “Spin.”
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