Fully on location last week for the first time since 2019, Spain’s Conecta Fiction & Entertainment, its first major TV event, carried over much of the winning formula from its early pre-pandemic editions: A spectacular setting in Spain, here the august historic city of Toledo; TV project pitches; an intense conference component; wonderful networking opportunities, most notably the opportunity to spend quality time with movement and agitation industry personalities from Spain and Latin America.
“I love being here and it’s healthy, especially for networking. I’m learning a lot, it’s like going to school,” enthused Manuel Marti from Fremantle to Toledo. Most participants would agree with him.
But, compared to 2019, the industry has moved on and is now rocked by greater turbulence. Then, 12 takeaways on a robust and intense 6th Conecta Fiction, from June 21 to 24:
Conecta Fiction: bigger than ever…
This year’s edition was the largest ever, with 728 delegates, Conecta Fiction director Géraldine Gonard announced on Friday. This exceeds Pamplona’s 692 in 2019. No wonder. Global content spending has nearly doubled in a decade, up 94% from $123 billion in 2012 to around $235 billion in 2022, according to research presented Thursday by Hannah Walsh of Ampere Analysis at CF&E. Part – but only part – of this growth is due to spending on streaming content. Driven by competition, it quadrupled from $10 billion in 2017 to $40 billion in 2022, Walsh said.
… And expanding its range
It has also expanded its range, launching Format, Docu-Drama and High-End pitching sessions, and welcoming projects from all over Europe and just beyond, such as the winner of the Co-Pro series from Lebanon “Status Quo”, CF&E’s first Arab world title. “The Co-Pro titles were Spanish, Argentinian, maybe Chilean. This year they came from Ukraine, Italy, Uruguay, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, Lebanon and Finland Marti said, “The perimeter is now much wider, a global television panorama. It’s positive.”
Disney dazzles: “Santa Evita”
Conecta Fiction’s most glamorous event was a gala premiere on June 22 with stars in tow of the pilot episode of “Santa Evita,” a banner title from Star Plus, the streaming service one year of the Walt Disney Company in Latin America. Produced by Salma Hayek Pinault and co-directed by Rodrigo García (“Nine Lives”), the Star Plus Productions series is shot with a cinematic twist and laced with a modern genre sensibility. It shows Eva Perón as she has rarely been seen before: dead, her embalmed corpse sequestered by the Argentine military regime, and men who still love, vilify and fear her figure in equal measure.
VIS, Banijay, Beta Up the Ante In Spain
The big news from CF&E has been the fact that energetic American players and European super indies have stepped up their presence in Spain.
Paramount’s international studio VIS has moved the waves by announcing an exclusive first-look deal with Madrid and Los Angeles-based Morena Films (“Champions,” “Below Zero”). Beta Fiction Spain has announced its first Spanish production, “Dolores”, a portrait of working-class champion La Pasionaria. “There has always been a strong connection on the feature film side between Spain, Mexico and Hollywood. We would love to establish that on the television side as well,” announced Lars Blomgren at Banijay, who just came from acquire Alex de la Iglesia’s Pokeepsie Films.
Spain: a global platform leader
Again, this surge is hardly a surprise. By far, Spain has more movies (3) and series (5) in Netflix’s non-English speaking Global Top 10 most watched than any other country in the world, Korea (2) included. Even from June 13-19, led by “Intimacy,” the world’s most-watched non-English-language TV show on Netflix, hours watched on the top 10 Spanish shows and movies reached triple those of any other country. Between 2018 and 2021, Castilian Spanish titles became the most coveted non-English language content for US SVOD operators, beating out Japanese and far ahead of Hindi, French and Chinese, according to Omdia’s Maria Rua Aguete . Even without “Money Heist”, Spain is still rocking.
Next Generation Female Writers Energize Conecta Fiction
Widely praised for its sharp writing, “Intimacy,” a political/gender abuse melodrama thriller, was written by Verónica Fernández (“Velvet Collection”) and Laura Sarmiento Pallarés (“Crematorium”). Today, next-generation female writers are making an impact, driving more cutting-edge projects at Conecta Fiction. Written by Leticia Dolera (“Perfect Life”) and Almudena Monzú (“Picadero”), “Puberty” weighed in as one of the most interrogative high-end dramas, challenging sexual taboos. Spaniard Leire Albinarrate won two awards for ‘A Wicked Life’, set in 1901 Madrid, which ‘pushes the boundaries of period dramas’, she said. Variety, incorporating “the never-before-seen perspectives of outcast, queer, and disabled characters”.
There was a good buzz about “From 6 to 8 PM” in Italy, an erotic comedy-drama from “Gomorrah” and “My Brilliant Friend” producer Fandango, written by the latter’s scribe, Francesco Piccoli. Written by Eduardo Sacheri, co-writer of ‘The Secret In Their Eyes’, the religious thriller Fabula-Fremantle was the biggest game deal at CF&E. Showcased to selected companies, the pilot of “Our Women’s Lives” – an anthology series on gender-based violence from BTF Media Chile, directed by “The Suspended Mourning” creator Hernan Caffiero, also made headlines. It is co-written and directed by Bárbara Barrera Morales, another emerging talent of the new generation.
Toledo: cinema and television center
Toledo is a tourist magnet, just 40 minutes by train south of Madrid, a city with a huge Gothic cathedral and Alcazar fortress, tangled alleys and the feeling of always summing up the grandeur of a Spain older. However, the city is now aiming to become a modern film-TV center as well, with its government and film commission holding meetings with 30 major international film-TV companies at Conecta Fiction, said Ana Isabel Fernández, Castilla’s chief executive. -La Mancha. Tourism, Trade and Crafts. Spain has a lot going for it these days as a big filming location, Gonard said, citing competitive incentives, flexible labor regulations and in-demand key tech talent.
Yet CF&T also took place at a time of growing industry headwinds, which inevitably impacted conference discussions. One is the growing uncertainty about what broadcast platforms, and indeed Europe’s free-to-air networks, really want. “Part of our success, when we’ve had it, comes from listening to the other side [of commissioners]“said Ramón Campos, from Bambú, who has produced with most platforms. “Now you can’t do audience analysis. We work blind. I have no idea what Netflix or Amazon or Apple are looking for,” the “Velvet” and “Cable Girls” creator added, pointing out that many of Netflix’s top 10 hits today are free-to-air series.
Spain is divided over its cinema-television future
On June 23, after multiple street demonstrations by protesting producers, the Spanish Senate approved a bill requiring Spanish streamers to invest 3.5% of their annual revenue in the production of independent Spanish producers. Now the real arguments can begin. Major Spanish producers want a regulatory revolution in cinema and television proposed by the Spanish government: return of rights to productions made with streamers after five years; an increase from 25% to 45% of the current Spanish tax shelter for independent producers. Other producers, however, want to ensure that the 3.5% is not covered by the platforms’ already regular producer partners. The Spanish government will try to find some sort of compromise, a tough call.
Two mantras: attract talent, retain intellectual property
The two main challenges for the unscripted content industry are attracting and retaining talent and retaining intellectual property, Banijay’s James Townley told a CF&E panel. These two concerns proved Conecta’s mantras. Only accelerated training can help solve the talent battle. The Toledo producers, however, had higher hopes for the IP. “Things are often solved by the market itself. The post-pandemic economic landscape has caused a small increase in streaming subscriber growth, so if streamers have to fill in a certain number of hours per year and have to do it with less money, the obvious outcome will be co-production” , Marti said.
As Netflix unveiled “El Conde,” the next director of “Spencer,” Pablo Larrain, a Pinochet vampire flick, Fabula and Fremantle brought “Santa Maria” to CF&E and dropped Starzplay’s “The Shelter” and Pantaya Pablo Fendrik, the first major Latin American film. sci-fi show. All in the same week. Most large producers in Latin America are partly dependent on the provision of services, observed Manuel Martí of Fremantle at CF&E. With offices in Chile, Mexico and the United States, Fremantle and Pantaya production alliances, and production titles of the caliber of “Spencer”, Fabula has become Latin America’s leading center for film and television talent thanks to a pure-play production – a tremendous achievement.