Slate expected to be announced at Cannes

MADRID — Douglas Wilson and brothers Ignacio and Gonzalo Salazar-Simpson have founded the Madrid-based film production company, LaZona Films.

Working with new and established helmers, LaZona aims to produce two-to-three Spanish-lingo feature films annually and an occasional English-lingo pic. Initial budgets will be in the 2 million to 3 million euro ($1.9 million- $2.9 million) bracket.

A development slate is expected to be announced some time around the Cannes Film Fest in May, Wilson said. Projects will range from artpics to genre-skewed mainstream, he added.

“We will focus on looking for new projects and also developing our own ideas in-house in response to what is working in the market,” said Ignacio Salazar-Simpson.

LaZona is a much-needed addition to the thin ranks of young pic producers in Spain.

It launches as Spain’s pic production slump worsens: Pick-ups and payments have slowed at both Spain’s pay TV pic financiers, Via Digital and Canal Plus Espana, as their parent companies, Sogecable and Telefonica thrash out their merger.

But LaZona bows with several competitive advantages. Having spent four years at the financial department of Telefonica Media, Gonzalo Salazar-Simpson may be better placed than most production execs to tap private equity or preferential credit for projects.

“Given the problems facing the industry, it seems likely that new or less-tested finance formulas will have to be tried, and that international co-productions will take on greater importance,” Gonzalo Salazar-Simpson commented.

Wilson and Ignacio Salazar-Simpson have considerable production experience, Wilson at Lolafilms, Salazar-Simpson at broadcaster Telecinco.

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