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Rafael Cabrera • General coordinator, Madrid Film

“The light in Madrid has a magic to it”


- We caught up with Rafael Cabrera, who leads the Community of Madrid’s Filming Promotion Office, to find out more about its work in smoothing the path for filmmakers in the region

Rafael Cabrera • General coordinator, Madrid Film

Every year, the Community of Madrid hosts hundreds of shoots for cinema, television and advertising alike. With its rich diversity of settings, unique cultural heritage, unbeatable infrastructure and bursting address book of qualified professionals, the region’s appeal is clear. We paid a visit to the headquarters of Madrid Film, the Community of Madrid’s Filming Promotion Office, to meet its general coordinator Rafael Cabrera. He kindly filled us in on the work of the office and offered some useful tips for film professionals looking to shoot in the region.

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Cineuropa: How would you define Film Madrid?
Rafael Cabrera
: We’re a film commission: the filming promotion office for the Community of Madrid. Film Madrid was created in 2016 and provides all of the services that any film commission does, but we always want to go a bit further and offer the most comprehensive service we can. We like to explore other possible paths for helping a shoot move forward, as well as lending support at the pre- and even postproduction stages.

What does Madrid have to offer the audiovisual sector?
The Community of Madrid is very much attuned to this sector and the government would like to attract more projects to the region. It offers a very wide variety of natural environments with real seasonal changes, plus opportunities to film in some amazing interiors, both historical (like palaces, castles and medieval walls) and modern (as in Madrid city centre). There is a vast spectrum of possibilities and locations, and we also have an extensive community of talented and creative film professionals with experience working on international productions. Not only can they help during the phase of production that’s based in Spain, but they also work internationally, so when you come to Spain and hire this talent you know that you’re getting an impeccably qualified and responsible team.

In terms of infrastructure and hotel accommodation, Madrid is hard to beat.
Absolutely. Madrid has an incredible transport network and that’s a big point in its favour, as crews know that travelling by road, air and railway is so easy. What’s more, Madrid is a safe city with a huge range of hotels and restaurants at reasonable prices.

If a production company wants to film in the Community of Madrid, what steps do they need to follow?
It’s important to understand the nature and demands of the project itself. That way, we can work out how best to help with finding the right settings and locations. From our side, we will act as a guide to help companies navigate all the permits they will need and find suitable service providers. There’s no need to bring over an entire team, because some things can be found right here. In Spain, there’s no single access point for everything they’ll need; we give direct advice applicable across the Madrid region. We don’t issue permits or deal with authorizations of any kind — that’s down to each individual municipality or sometimes the state, if there’s a national heritage site involved. That said, we keep in constant direct contact with all of these bodies and whenever we come across an interesting project for the region — one that will bring direct economic benefits to the Community of Madrid, beyond its promotional value — we’ll do whatever we can to make it happen. When we spot a film with that kind of potential, we’ll give it our full backing.

What are the Community of Madrid’s most sought-after locations?
A great deal of filming happens in the metro system; that’s a real asset. Like all of Madrid, it’s iconic. A lot of films, series and advertising get filmed here. At the same time, there are various other places with a lot of potential, and all of them are different, like our three World Heritage Sites: Alcalá de Henares, El Escorial and Aranjuez. The journey from Madrid takes you past magnificent palaces, all perfectly preserved, like the castles at Buitrago del Lozoya and Manzanares el Real, both of which have served as locations for historical films. There’s also some spectacular scenery, for example, at Hayedo de Montejo, Navacerrada, Rascafríá and La Cabrera. The whole Guadarrama mountain range is magnificent. We even have arid zones that have been used to shoot westerns. Elsewhere, there is plenty of water, in lakes, lagoons and reservoirs, that can stand in for the ocean.

A lot of painters and photographers wax lyrical about the light quality in Madrid.
Photography directors are astonished when they discover how amazing the light is in Madrid, and how much it enhances the scene. I’ve heard a lot of foreign producers say how struck they were when they first saw it. It’s different depending on whether you shoot in summer or winter, but that light definitely has a magic to it. It helps that we don’t get a lot of rain here — that’s a huge advantage when you’re filming.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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