'Deep Water'

Source: Jen Raoult / Arclight Films

‘Deep Water’

The Spanish archipelago has a different tax regime to Spain’s mainland and is able to offer significantly higher rates. Shoots in the Canary Islands can access a 50% tax rebate for the first $1.07m (€1m) and 45% afterwards, provided there is a minimum expenditure of $1.07m (€1m) or $214,000 (€200,000) in the case of animation.

This incentive is capped at $38.5m (€36m) for features, while series has a cap of $19.3m (€18m) per episode. They are all compatible with a 4% corporate income tax.

But the riches of the Canaries extend to the locations. The seven main islands — Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera — and many islets are of volcanic origin. This offers landmarks including the highest peak in Spain, Teide in Tenerife (3,718 metres), white or black sand beaches, tropical forests, sandy deserts and natural beauties such as El Charco de los Clicos, a striking green lagoon inside a crater in Lanzarote.

There are also urban locations with a colonial feel, such as Tenerife’s Garachico or San Cristobal de la Laguna in La Gomera, while others offer striking contemporary architecture. Then there is the weather, with an average summer temperature of 23ºc and 19ºc in winter, together with a well-developed tourist industry and impressive transport links. All the main islands have airports and there are ferry services too.

Well equipped

Gran Canaria boasts two soundstages of 1,200 square metres and 1,800 square metres, each with a height of 12 metres, and plans are underway for an extended reality (XR) stage.

While impact of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes were felt on the Spanish archipelago, some of the islands recorded a rise in activity. Tenerife hosted 13 feature films in 2023 — the highest number since records began. According to data from Canary Islands Film Com­mission, a total of 130 audiovisual productions (including features, series, TV programmes and commercials) took place on the islands with an estimated investment of $160.5m (€150m).

Features include Guy Ritchie’s The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare, starring Henry Cavill and Eiza Gonzalez, which shot on Tenerife in the second half of 2023. Ritchie’s previous film The Covenant also used locations on the islands.

Futuristic drama The Assessment, from French director Fleur Fortuné and starring Alicia Vikander and Elizabeth Olsen, also shot on Tenerife. It was co-produced by Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen’s UK-based Number 9 Films and Germany’s Augenschein Filmproduktion.

Survival thriller Deep Water, starring Aaron Eckhart and Ben Kingsley, shot on the Canary Islands, drawn in part by the tax incentive. Directed by Renny Harlin, it tells of a plane that makes an emergency landing in shark-­infested waters.

“The Spanish producer, Adrian Guerra, and his crew had the challenging task of organising the last two weeks of a movie that shot almost entirely in Auckland, New Zealand,” says executive producer Brian Beckmann. “Four days after finishing in Auckland, the production was shooting on finished sets in Gran Canaria. Only outstanding professionals on both sides could have pulled it off.

“It’s a sexy location,” he adds. “When you are negotiating with movie stars and their representatives, you don’t have to work quite as hard to convince them to come to the Canary Islands.”

Christian Gudegast’s sequel Den Of Thieves 2: Pantera, starring Gerard Butler and O’Shea Jackson Jr, also touched down on the islands.

Für Immer Sommer, a TV series from Germany’s Bavaria Fiction, and Stags, produced by Eleven for Paramount+, about a stag party gone wrong, shot on Tenerife at the end of 2023 and beginning of 2024. Fantefilm’s Norwegian sci-fi series La Palma shot on Tenerife and the island of La Palma itself. Spanish-­language series Zorro, produced by Secuoya Studios and directed by Javier Quintas, also used locations on the islands.

Local film commissions, crews and locations are able to accommodate shows alongside big Hollywood productions, independent European films and commercials. VFX companies have expanded the range of services and there is an increasing number of animations. One of the most recent is Spain-Canada co-production SuperKlaus, a superhero twist on the Santa story.

First person to contact: Natacha Mora, Canary Islands Film

Find out more: canaryislandsfilm.com/en