For every Clash of The Titans there is a whole cutting room full of made for TV movies and adverts. Hollywood came and went after filming part of the swords and sandals saga, bringing a burst of activity and a whole army of technical crew, but the reel deal would be to have a purpose made studio and academy here in Tenerife to nurture and develop the home grown talent.
Sitting in the kitchen area at Blackstone Film Company in Parque de la Reina I feel a long way from tinsel town but for producer Julia Schroedl and executive producer Jurgen Hartmann this is the grainy black and white reality of the film world. After four years of dead ends and endless meetings they are about to submit a new scaled down studio plan, maybe Tenerife’s last chance for a happy ending.
“The government here needs to take a different viewpoint and realise what a big industry filming could be in Tenerife” explained Julia. “Our original architect’s plans were for a large studio, academy and film theme park and now the same 150 million euro package is being built in Lithuania; one of many eastern European countries that are embracing this opportunity. They donated free land for the project.”
Tenerife hasn’t yet matched the incentives being offered by other countries to lure in the lucrative film trade. “There is capital out there but many countries offer tax incentives. Germany gives 20% back on taxes as an encouragement, France has just gone a stage further and offered 30%. That was enough to make Woody Allen move his new film over from Germany. There is also a different attitude in other countries to clearing the way for filming. It can be a nightmare here getting permission to film in locations and being allowed to bring in catering and other back up on site.”
Both Julia and Jurgen insist that there is a large pool of untapped talent here in Tenerife and they should know; they provide electrical, scenery, technical and casting for many productions that crave the unique scenery and settings that Tenerife and the other Canary Islands have to offer. One shining success story is Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, a local director, script writer and producer who left Tenerife to pursue his dream in Madrid and is now directing Clive Owen’s new thriller Intruders after making it big with zombie sequel 28 Weeks Later.
Blackstone Film Company did a major casting weekend in Plaza del Duque in May and added 1,300 faces and profiles to their bulging extras database. “We get companies calling at a few days notice needing very specific types, ages and looks of people”. These recruits won’t be stars but will pop up in many future productions, further enhancing Tenerife’s reputation as a good place to make films.
But now it’s make or break for the future of the Tenerife film industry. The next few months will tell if it’s going to be Hooray for Sollywood or an epic wasted opportunity.