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With its romantic, old-world charm, Santiago is a yet unexplored filming destination

This week, we make a stopover at an overwhelming medieval town, Satiago de Compostela, which also serves as the final route to the pilgrims on the St James Pilgrimage (read: Walk from Southern France, crossing Northern Spain). This historic settlement is the capital of the Galicia region of Spain and is a breathtaking destination visited by thousands of holidaymakers.The city is a juxtaposition of old and new design, which harmoniously blends with each other to form a picturesque setting. From ruins of the past to sizeable nightlife, tapas bars and narrow streets surrounded by rustic buildings, the city has much history that can be explored by tourists and filmmakers. Reflecting olden times, the cathedral is a baroque facade guarded for centuries and today the main sight grabbing attention through its architectural composition. The influence of the Romanesque style is also seen in the carvings and designs on the exterior and interiors. The approach to this religious place will make you wander through cobbled lanes and bylanes, buzzing with local restaurants and bars. At night, these dimly lit lanes are interesting to traverse but more appealing is to see them leap off from the real to the reel world – a romantic milieu for one while donning a dark-mystifying look for the other.

Filming is not only limited to these narrow roads. The entire city can double for any genre thanks to its wide range of locations. Within the old town – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – one will encounter medieval structures, whereas the new town is more lavish with posh localities and parks. Other points of interest include the 16th century Baroque Abbey de San Martín Pinario and University of Santiago de Compostela.What’s unique is the fact that apart from Spanish films and TV series, the town has not been featured in many international motion pictures. Thus every space on the big screen can come across as new. Still want more? The film commission provides help to production houses, making the cumbersome task of shooting hassle-free.

BENEFITS OF FILMING IN SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

• Filming Assistance: Santiago de Compostela Film Commission (SCFC) offers international audiovisual professionals all the information, support and advice required to make cinematographic productions. It not only provides all the filming permits required during production, but also functions as a complete and effective information point regarding the city. It also serves as a link between the audiovisual sector and other auxiliary services: accommodation, catering, post-production and many more.

• Municipal Fees: The filming fee established by the Santiago City Council for all filming, regardless of its nature, on public grounds is about € 370 per day due to the occupation of a public area. However, a 50 per cent discount is applied to cinematographic or similar projects that duly certify that the resulting product will contribute significantly to the promotion of the city of Santiago de Compostela. Such projects also have to include the collaboration of the Santiago City Council in the credits and promotion of their films. To that end, interested production companies should present a brief letter clearly explaining the reasons their project will benefit the public image of the city and its inhabitants.

• Obtaining Permits: SCFC is responsible for processing the necessary applications in order to film in the previously chosen locations. All that is required is filling in two forms: a general one, which contains information about the production company, a description of the project including budget data, the approximate number of technical and artistic personnel, and the technical elements that will be used during filming; and another one related to the place where filming will take place or to the service that is requested. All SCFC services are free of charge.

• Foreign Productions: Foreign production companies that want to work in Spain can either open a subsidiary office in Spain or simply work with a local production company, which provides its services in exchange for a previously negotiated payment or establishes a co-production with the foreign company. For filming, all companies have to pay certain taxes. They include Tax on Commercial and Professional Activities (IAE), Value-Added Tax (VAT) and Income Tax (IRPF). However, companies are eligible for a VAT refund on the services received and material purchased in Spain, as long as they can certify, from their country of origin, that they are persons liable for VAT. In the case of IRPF, the non-residents are subject to pay tax only on their income and capital gains produced in Spain and their assets acquired in Spain. A 7 per cent deduction during the first three years of commercial activity and a 15 per cent deduction thereafter are issued.

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