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Changing the Guard in Spanish Production

London, UK
The outgoing and incoming presidents of Spain’s Association of Advertising Production Companies look back at achievements and ahead to progress for their market
Two weeks ago the Association of Advertising Film Production Companies (APCP) in Spain held the sixth edition of its Advertising Film Production Days - a conference attended by professionals from across the filmmaking and advertising spheres in the country. One of the key events in this second occasion in the historic town of Valladolid in northwestern Spain was the announcement of Albert Soler as the newly elected president of the association. He will move forward in the slipstream of Manuel García, who has led the industry body since 2014.

To mark this moment in the association’s history, LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with both the outgoing and incoming presidents about what the APCP has achieved and its goals for the future of the Spanish advertising film production industry.

Manuel García

Outgoing president of the APCP
Executive producer at The Brownie Film Company

LBB> What was the APCP and its membership like four years ago, when your first term as president began?

Manuel> APCP was made up of fewer than 20 production companies, all of them well known and important in the business but we were missing the smaller companies (in terms of turnover) and also many international production service companies.

LBB> What have been the biggest developments in the association over the past four years?

Manuel> The objectives were clear:

First of all, to improve as companies and professionalise the business by being more demanding with our associates. This translated into providing a better service to our clients at a time when it is difficult to distinguish a real production company from a pseudo company that calls itself a production company. For this task we created an APCP “seal” verified by AENOR (a quality auditor) which guarantees to our clients the implementing of good practices and strict compliance of labor, tax, child-labor and other laws.

Second, to grow. In order to truly be representative of the sector and gain influence with local and national authorities, agencies, advertisers, other associations and in general with society, we needed to build the number of associate production companies. 

At this time we are around fifty companies in the APCP (this number is growing each day, at this moment there are three that are in the process of becoming members) and we represent around 80% of the volume of the market.

Third, maintain close relationships and work closely with the other players in the sector to improve. In this sense, the progress we have made in our dialogues with the technicians guild has been very important and the work we have done alongside the AEA (Spanish Advertisers Association) and the advertising agency association is truly interesting and we have great expectations for those collaborations. 
LBB> How do you feel the Spanish production industry has changed in that time?

Manuel> It’s no secret that Spain has been for a long time an important hub for commercial production from all over the world with both our companies as well as our crews for years at the forefront of the industry. In that sense, I believe we have made our mark.

The fundamental changes have come from the side of legal and bureaucratic requirements. In that sense, and referring strictly to our member companies, an enormous effort has been made to stay up to date with all of the regulations in terms of hiring crews, workplace safety, social security, shooting permits, insurance, data protection and a long list of other things... all fundamental for the good practice of production companies and brands. At this time, all advertisers that work with an APCP member company are assured that the regulations are being perfectly adhered to.

LBB> What have been the main challenges over the years?
Manuel> All of the objectives I mentioned earlier have been significant challenges that in great part we have overcome. 

Now we have ahead of us a new challenge: the creation by some agencies of in-house production companies. This is a very complicated and delicate subject that not only affects the business from the strictly economic point of view but also raises issues of unfair competition. 

Because we recognise that this problem can grow to become a serious, worldwide one, the APCP is working with other production company associations in Europe and the US to try to establish a common ground. 

As I was saying before, the strict compliance of the law and good practices as well as doing so in a verifiable way have been important challenges, but so has reaching accords with technicians and attracting more members.

LBB> And the biggest progress?

Manuel> So as not to repeat myself, aside from what has already been said, in these years something that I feel especially satisfied with has occurred. Today, Spanish advertising producers don’t only compete against each other, as is normal in the business, but also they’ve gotten to know each other, share information, trust one another, share objectives and know that when it comes to questions that effect and matter to all, we can present one single voice. 

LBB> What are the next aims for the association and the production community in Spain?

Manuel> Although this is a good question for the new president, in my opinion without a doubt we must continue to grow in terms of members and influence and continue to come up with new ideas and solutions to industry problems.

LBB> Finally, what lessons from Valladolid this year will stay with you most strongly?

Manuel> I think that our production conference is the perfect place for all of the industry to get together. Both international and local advertising events such as the Cannes Lions, El Sol, CdeC and nearly all others place the accent on creativity, effectiveness or other values that have to do directly with marketing and advertising. In our conference, aside from this, we place great importance on “the cinematic.”  From seminars, roundtables, technical demonstrations, etc. to being in the context of the Seminci Film Festival in Valladolid, the accent is placed on the production of advertising films, which allows both crews and film service companies to feel involved, learn something and have a good time.

Albert Soler

President of the APCP
Co-owner and executive producer at Mamma Team Productions

LBB> As you take over as president, what are the main challenges facing the Spanish production industry?

Albert> In terms of local market we are in a very crucial moment where everybody wants to bite a piece of the production pie. But the most dangerous: people are stepping into production and playing without following the rules, with the risk that it entails for the brands we represent. We have to claim the role of the production industry in the advertising world. We have to be very demanding with the quality and make agencies and clients see the importance of production. That’s why our association has self-imposed a Guarantee Certificate to make it clear to clients and agencies that all our members follow the rules to guarantee fair competition and safe and legal shooting.

Concerning the international market, the services in Spain, we have to keep being leaders in Europe and in the world. For production companies around the world, Spain is nowadays one of their favourites to shoot their projects. Not only for its weather and locations, also for the amazing teams and the equipment you can find. But - very important - we have to be very focused on not losing this leadership and competitiveness against other countries.

LBB> How do you hope to grow the membership? 

Albert> We keep growing day after day. In my opinion, the main reason is because the APCP is nowadays an association with great prestige. The production companies are united, we like each other and nobody in this business doubts that it is better to stay together than riding alone. This prestige and trust in the Association comes because we have our Guarantee Certificate which guarantees that all their members play by the same rules. This is essential to trust that all our agreements will be fulfilled by all its members. Everybody is proud to be member. 

LBB> What are the next aims for the association and the production community in Spain? 

Albert> Our aim is to grow and keep the union between us. This is our strength to achieve all the challenges we have. We have to claim our importance in the advertising industry. Production deserves its rightful place in the advertising world. I have the feeling that our work has been underrated in the last years and this has been very dangerous. Agencies and clients should know the risk of not trusting in real professional production companies for their projects. 

LBB> Finally, what lessons from Valladolid this year will stay with you most strongly? 

Albert> The idea that clients, agencies and production companies should stay together and have a better communication. The production of a commercial is a complex process between three parts: clients, agencies and production companies. Our process is complex enough without making it more complicated. Creativity from agencies and directors should have to be in service of the final result, and this happens by losing the fears and making communication easier.
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