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Spantech: Walloon studios for large series - Companies

Spantech: Walloon studios for large series – Companies

Specializing in the construction of modular structures, the Walloon company Spantech stands out above all with its permanent but easily removable film studios. A godsend for series producers looking for ever more flexible solutions.

This is the “serial” event for the start of the school year in September and it will soon have a little Belgian accent. After the summer holidays, Amazon will broadcast on its Prime Video platform the very first episode of its series The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings) derived from the famous trilogy of films of the same name. To acquire the rights to adapt this work by JRR Tolkien and thus face its competitors Netflix and Disney+ on the streaming market, the e-commerce giant paid no less than 250 million dollars to which it added nearly 500 million to produce this first season.

This is the “serial” event for the start of the school year in September and it will soon have a little Belgian accent. After the summer holidays, Amazon will broadcast on its Prime Video platform the very first episode of its series The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings) derived from the famous trilogy of films of the same name. To acquire the rights to adapt this work by JRR Tolkien and thus face its competitors Netflix and Disney+ on the streaming market, the e-commerce giant paid no less than 250 million dollars to which it added nearly 500 million to produce this first season. If the first eight episodes – already canned – are set in the majestic lands of New Zealand, the second season of The Lord of the Rings will be shot in the United Kingdom, thanks in particular to the know-how of a company Walloon. Based in Nivelles, the Santech company is indeed specialized in the manufacture of various temporary structures and, above all, in the rapid construction of permanent film studios, but easily removable, in order to respond effectively to the increasingly pressing demands of film producers. series. To its credit, Spantech already has 10 “state-of-the-art” studios, mainly erected in the outskirts of London, with however a good reference in Spain. In a few weeks, one of these studios set up in England will therefore welcome the actors of Lord of the Rings for future episodes which will be seen all around the planet. “We define ourselves as a disruptive studio manufacturer, explains Derek de Villenfagne, founder and CEO of Spantech. In less than six months, we can build 2,000 m2 studios for the shooting of films or series, anywhere in the world, which can last at least 10 years, while being easily dismantled overnight. This allows us to be more agile if we have to move these studios for one reason or another, while being respectful of the environment. environment since these structures can be quickly dismantled to be recycled or reassembled elsewhere. This notion of sustainable development is also essential for certain producers such as Netflix or Amazon, which we count among our customers via intermediary companies.” Increasingly active in the audiovisual market, Spantech is not limited to the construction of “mobile” film studios but also offers innovative solutions for different economic sectors. Light maintenance hangars for the aeronautical industry, emergency relief tents for humanitarian aid, modular structures for horse riding arenas, temporary gymnasiums for schools undergoing renovation, etc. Spantech’s references are numerous and also affect the event sector. Because it was with “pointed hat tents” deployed for exhibitions and events that the adventure of this Walloon company began in 1999. At the time, Derek de Villenfagne was a fresh graduate from the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management and the sales engineer was immediately won over by this new concept of tents from the United States. With his mother, he then founded Spantech to adapt this textile idea to European standards and quickly built a factory in Poland for the construction of these modular structures. It will then acquire a factory in France, then another in Germany in 2012, before increasingly diversifying its modular activities. The success story is there: started as a couple in a 16 m2 office, the story of Spantech has grown nicely and now has 135 employees. The turnover, too, has only increased over the years to reach 30 million euros in 2021 (it was less than 20 million in 2020) and the prospects are all the more encouraging as Derek de Villenfagne is counting on “36 to 38 million” in revenue for this year 2022. To develop its growth, the Nivelles-based company can count on the support of the M80 fund, which has invested in several companies in France and Benelux (for example Le Pain Quotidien) and which entered the capital of Spantech at the beginning of 2020. Today, M80 owns approximately 70% of the company’s shares, the balance being mainly held by Derek de Villenfagne with, alongside him, another minority shareholder is the Walloon Region which owns almost 3% of the capital. “We have gone from building temporary tents to a 2.0 construction company, comments the founder and CEO. Today, we offer permanent solutions that can be set up at a lower cost and dismantled for upgrading. It’s not about low cost solutions but about latest generation structures with real energy performance and, as for studios, real acoustic performance.” With the pandemic that has frozen the organization of events and boosted the consumption of series on streaming platforms, Spantech has made a strategic shift by investing more in the world of audiovisual production, to the detriment of the event sector. ‚ÄúToday, nearly 60% of our turnover is made in this new niche with, in particular, the construction of studios, explains Derek de Villenfagne. It is a real choice on our part because we have decided to position much less, in the future, in events.” A revealing sign of this desire to win over new customers in the world of series and cinema, Spantech plans to inaugurate a branch in the United States this summer. “I’m leaving soon for Los Angeles with a view to opening an office there, concludes the CEO. We suffer from a lack of presence on site to convince our American clients. However, for us, it is essential to increasingly active in this market. This is a decisive step for our development.” Although Spantech can already pride itself on having deployed its know-how on five continents and counting, among its clients, fine references such as Amazon or Netflix, it nevertheless remains convinced that its solution of “permanent but dismountable” can appeal to other major American players in the audiovisual industry. History that other international sagas like The Lord of the rings can one day also have their little Walloon accent.

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