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Producing a film: More than knowing how to sell an idea

Dedicated to the production of Latin American and European films, Jaime Osorio has been dedicated to the work of knowing how to project ideas and give them the possibility of becoming a film for more than 20 years.

TV&V: What does the work of the Executive Producer mean to a Film Director?

Jaime Osorio: In the circumstances of cinematography in Latin America, the film director or who intends to make a film, has to be the manager of his own project. It is very difficult for American or European producers to come to sponsor national talents, it is definitely the owner of the idea who has to sell it.

Keep in mind that no film in Latin America recovers the investment in their country, except for Brazil or Mexico that with more than one hundred million inhabitants maybe they can do it, but rest it is very difficult for a film of one million dollars, to talk about small budgets, recoup investment in a single country; therefore what that has meant is that co-productions have to be sought.

In Latin America are counted with the fingers of one hand the directors who have had large budgets sponsored by Spanish or French producers, even so there are some international funds that are tried to access to finance the films, but in general it can be said that it is the Director who must do a kind of production course for sell your idea and your film.

- Publicidad -

Those directors who know the production are the ones who have the best chance of getting financing, and this does not happen only in Latin America, for example, Robert Redford, Francis Ford Coppola or Steven Spielberg have been directors and producers of their own films on several occasions. The film business is a very complicated business and as far as possible it must be managed and controlled, even the big American houses such as TwentyCentury Fox, Metro Golden Meyer or Sony Pictures have within their projections to recover their investments in a ratio of 7 to 1, that is, that of seven films only one yields profits.

TV&V: How is the work of the Executive Producer?

J.O.: The work of the executive producer is the putting on screen of the human and material resources that are available to make a film. What it is about is that each peso that is invested is necessary, that no expenses are made that will not be seen in the quality and invoice of the film.

The producer must avoid mistakes, know the difficulties and plan the shooting in such a way that not a single minute is lost, since after starting the process of a production should not stop, because restarting is much more expensive.

Nowadays to sell a film you have to wrap it, that is, it must have a good presentation, the films are not sold as such but are sold as projects. An idea can be very good, but if you don't have a shooting plan, a work plan or a financing plan, no one is going to invest in that project.

TV&V: You have had the opportunity to work in the production of several films on an international scale.

J.O.: In Latin America there is an international level to work in the cinema although there are many differences, for example in the United States and in Europe the executive producers in their generality what they do is contact agencies to help them solve the problems or certain requirements of a shooting. In Latin America you can't delegate some jobs because there simply isn't a real industry to do it.

- Publicidad -

In the event that you have a scene where you need to vacate a street in the city; in Europe they would hire an agency to do the work, here it is necessary for the production team to go to the houses that surround the street and do this work step by step in dialogue with everyone involved. Simply, what in other countries means a work of a few calls and contacts, in Latin America is a more arduous and delayed work since there are no supports to the film industry, here you still have to invent and design many things for that reason.

In a recent experience with the Franco-Swiss director Barbert Schroeder in a film that was shot in Medellín - Colombia, a crane like 9 meters long was needed and none is available, so it was necessary to redesign one and adapt it to the new needs, this kind of thing is what should be done in Latin American films, there's a lot of inventiveness.

TV&V: What is happening in the field of production in Latin America?

J.O.: What you are seeing is that films are being produced in small formats or in difficult conditions, if there is a good idea, it is sold and it does not matter if it is Latin American or from another place.

In this it is better to have market strategies and to the extent that you have more films you have a better negotiating capacity in front of the distributors, this, in addition, means that the negotiations are done in better conditions than those you have today since they are solitary negotiations. If you have continuity of companies producing, it is easier to develop in the market.

There is an interesting fact within Latin American productions; in Colombia of the 25 highest grossing films in the country, 8 were national, "Pantaleón y las visitadoras" has just been the most watched film in the history of Peruvian cinema; "Sex, modesty and tears" exceeded five million six hundred thousand viewers in Mexico, something that had not happened with any film in the history of this country.

- Publicidad -

Within this dynamic, it can be highlighted that when films are tied to co-productions work, this is reflected in the work that the G-3 is doing, (Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico), these three countries have come together to co-produce cinema and although the films have not been very blockbuster, they have lost no money. It is not always easy to make films that are successful, this is not like making dresses where if you have a mold you take out all the same dresses and already, here there are no formulas, and even if in Hollywood cinema they are using some constant strategies in their films because they have seen that they attract spectators, this is not a rule. Sometimes a film is not a guarantee even because it has a good story, you can find very good stories badly told, the challenge is then to know how to tell them and know the work to be able to sell it.

Today cinema in Latin America is being revolutionized a bit because there are more people making films; short films, medium-length films and feature films, and this is good because trade and industry are being generated and from each country this art is being sponsored more.

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