Barcelona will host more than 2,800 audiovisual productions in 2023

Recreating the Barcelona of the seventies was one of the biggest challenges faced by the production of the film Saben Aquell, the biopic of the comedian Eugenio, starring David Verdaguer.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
01 April 2024 Monday 10:22
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Barcelona will host more than 2,800 audiovisual productions in 2023

Recreating the Barcelona of the seventies was one of the biggest challenges faced by the production of the film Saben Aquell, the biopic of the comedian Eugenio, starring David Verdaguer. Although most of the scenes were filmed indoors, the outdoor sessions required complex conditioning of the city streets. “From the sidewalks, the traffic lights, the signs and even the street furniture,” Edmon Roch, producer of the film, explains to La Vanguardia. “On the days of large outdoor shoots, in addition to blocking the streets, we had more than 40 old vehicles in circulation.” As, for example, in the dawn scene after the death of the dictator Franco, when Eugenio is seen near Paseo Sant Joan and Calle Còrsega. “We always did those scenes on holidays to have the least possible impact on the life of a city like Barcelona.”

The film managed to resurrect an aesthetic that had been buried under the modernity of the city and was recognized at both the Gaudí and Goya awards. "We are very happy with the result; “The art director, Marc Pou, has done an extraordinary job.”

Every year, Barcelona attracts thousands of film shoots ranging from feature films to advertisements, music videos and documentaries. Its streets are transformed into post-apocalyptic scenarios to give life to universes such as that of Bird Box Barcelona, ​​or they relive some of its most atrocious crimes such as those of former agent Rosa Peral in The Body on Fire.

According to the Barcelona Film Commission (BFC), the office in charge of facilitating and streamlining the management of filming in the city, during 2023 Barcelona hosted more than 2,800 national and international productions. “Just between feature films and fiction series, the economic benefit that the production companies have left during 2023 amounts to around 68 million euros; thanks to the expenses on technical material, personnel, accommodation, transportation and food, among others,” explains Carme Melús, head of the organization.

In addition to the economic benefit, Barcelona's prominence in the audiovisual industry “helps project the city both within Spain and in Europe and the world,” adds Melús.

With Tarragona as the stage and the Castellers de Vilafranca as the protagonists, the Sirens video clip by American musician Travis Scott has already accumulated more than ten million views. The rapper was encouraged to do a 4 of 9 amb folre alongside the most experienced Catalan castellers. The video was recorded in Valls, the same place where a human tower performance was documented for the first time, in 1801. Catalonia was not only the setting for the artist's video clip, but a Catalan production company was also in charge of the project, Canada. , the same brand that Rosalía chose to create the video clip Vampiros, an ode to the Barcelona night.

“Many of those who enter ask me if I know Rosalía,” says José Lamiel, head of the legendary Marsella bar, located in the Raval neighborhood. It was there where the singer took out her fangs with her ex, Rauw Alejandro, to film the Vampiros video. What better setting for two bloodsuckers than the yellowed walls of Hemingway's favorite bar, adorned with cobwebs and bottles more than 200 years old. The Marseille is already an icon of filming in the city and countless stories have passed through it. Among them that of Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, ​​as well as the narrative of Almodóvar, who immortalized the place in his film All About My Mother.

Although the settings for series and films are the ones most highlighted by visitors to the city, in Barcelona “advertising productions are always above cultural ones,” explains Carme Melús of the BFC. In 2023, 947 advertisements for different automobile, fashion, technology and health brands were filmed. Some show an almost invisible, camouflaged and generic Barcelona, ​​while others choose to highlight the iconography of the city. As did the Primavera Sound festival and the promotion of the poster for its 22nd edition. “It is a love letter to Barcelona and its streets,” said the organizers.

The spot covers emblematic places, such as the Sagrada Família, the Boqueria market, the Monumental bullring, the Mapfre tower or El Corte Inglés in Plaza Catalunya; and replaces their names with those of the groups and artists invited to the festival. “We return to the essence of that party that Primavera Sound held in 1994 in the KGB room in Barcelona.”

The filming of a film production can extend over several days and cover one or more districts and neighborhoods within the city. Since data on film activity in Barcelona began to be collected in 2010, there has been a constant trend in terms of the districts preferred by directors and producers to carry out their projects. In 2023, this trend remained unchanged, with Sant Martí, Eixample and Ciutat Vella once again leading the list of most requested areas.

However, there are always exceptions that stand out. This is the case of Això no és Suècia, the first original fiction series produced by RTVE Play and starring Aina Clotet and Marcel Borràs, a couple in fiction and real life. The series was one of the challenges of the year, according to the BFC. It was filmed almost entirely in the areas of Vallvidrera, Tibidabo and Les Planes, neighborhoods not very accustomed to this type of damage. There were a total of 117 days in which 53 filming permits were needed.

Barcelona undoubtedly offers a unique combination of elements that make it highly attractive to the film and television industry. With a privileged location between 230 kilometers of mountains and more than 500 km of coast, well-preserved historic neighborhoods and impressive high-altitude viewpoints. “It is an incomparable setting,” says producer Edmon Roch. “But beyond being a wonderful setting, it is above all a city with its life and needs and everything cannot be interrupted for a shoot.” It is crucial in a production, “to approach from prudence and not ask for the impossible.”

Barcelona is consolidating itself as a highly competitive destination for the audiovisual industry. Today, every corner of the city houses a story ready to be captured on the screen.