Barcelona hosts more than 2,800 audiovisual productions in 2023

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

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
01 April 2024 Monday 11:23
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Barcelona hosts more than 2,800 audiovisual productions in 2023

Recreating the Barcelona of the seventies was one of the biggest challenges facing the production of the film Saben aquell, the biopic of comedian Eugenio, starring David Verdaguer. Despite the fact that most of the scenes were shot in closed premises, the days outside required a complex conditioning of the city streets. "From the pavements, the traffic lights and the signs to the street furniture", explains Edmon Roch, producer of the film, to La Vanguardia. "On the days of large outdoor shoots, in addition to cutting off the streets, we had more than 40 old vehicles in circulation." As, for example, in the scene of the dawn following the death of the dictator Franco, when Eugenio is seen near Paseo Sant Joan and Carrer Còrsega. "We always did these scenes on holidays to have the minimum impact on the life of a city like Barcelona".

The film succeeded in resurrecting an aesthetic that had been buried under the city's modernity 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 shoots ranging from feature films to commercials, video clips and documentaries. The streets are transformed into post-apocalyptic scenarios to give life to different universes, such as that of Bird Box Barcelona, ​​or relive some of the most atrocious crimes, such as those of ex-agent Rosa Peral in El cuerpo en llamas.

According to the Barcelona Film Commission (BFC), the office in charge of facilitating and speeding up the management of filming in the city, in 2023 Barcelona hosted more than 2,800 national and international productions. "Just between feature films and fiction series, the economic profit left by the production companies in 2023 amounts to around 68 million euros; thanks to the expenses on technical equipment, staff, accommodation, transport and meals, among other things", explains Carme Melús, head of the organization.

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

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

"Many people who come ask me if I know Rosalía", comments José Lamiel, head of the legendary bar Marsella, in the Raval district. It was where the singer bared her fangs with her ex, Rauw Alejandro, to shoot the Vampiros video. There is no better setting for two vampires than the yellowish 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 happened there, such as that of Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, ​​as well as the narrative of Almodóvar, who immortalized the place in the film film Todo sobre mi madre.

Despite the fact that the settings of series and films are the most noted by visitors to the city, in Barcelona "advertising productions are always above cultural ones", explains Carme Melús, from the BFC. In 2023, 947 commercials were filmed for different car, fashion, technology and health brands. Some show an almost invisible, camouflaged and generic Barcelona, ​​while others choose to highlight the iconography of the city. Like for example the Primavera Sound festival and the promotion of the poster for edition number 22. "It's a love letter to Barcelona and to the streets", said the organizers.

The spot travels around emblematic places, such as the Sagrada Família, the Boqueria market, the Plaça de toros Monumental, the Mapfre tower and El Corte Inglés in Plaça Catalunya, and replaces their names with those of the groups and artists invited to the festival . "Let's go back to the essence of that party that Primavera Sound celebrated in 1994 at the KGB hall in Barcelona".

The shooting of a film production can last several days and include 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 regarding the districts preferred by directors and producers to carry out projects. In 2023 this trend remained unchanged, and Sant Martí, Eixample and Ciutat Vella once again led the list of the most requested areas.

However, there are always exceptions that stand out. This is the case of This is not Sweden, the first original fiction series produced by RTVE Play and starring Aina Clotet and Marcel Borràs, a couple in fiction and in real life. The series was one of the challenges of the year, according to the BFC. It was shot almost entirely in the areas of Vallvidrera, Tibidabo and Les Plaines, neighborhoods not used to this kind of damage. It was 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 for the film and television industry. With a privileged location between 230 kilometers of mountains and more than 500 kilometers of coastline, well-preserved historic neighborhoods and impressive viewpoints. "It's an incomparable framework", says producer Edmon Roch. "But beyond being a wonderful setting, it's above all a city with its own life and needs, and you can't interrupt everything for a shoot." It is crucial for a production to "propose things from the perspective of prudence and not ask for something impossible".

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