SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain — A chance encounter with “Breaking Bad” executive producer Mark Johnson was the key to attaching a high-caliber cast — led by Jennifer Connelly — to Claudia Llosa’s “Cry/Fly,” said Spanish producer Jose Maria Morales at a co-production forum discussion at the San Sebastian Film Festival on Monday.
Johnson was a fan of Llosa’s previous film, “The Milk of Sorrow,” which had been nominated for an Oscar, so he agreed to board the project as a producer, alongside Morales, head of Wanda Vision. Johnson provided access to the Hollywood agents, which allowed Morales to attach the key cast, such as Cillian Murphy (“Inception”) and Melanie Laurent (“Inglourious Basterds”).
Morales said that it was necessary to be flexible when dealing with Hollywood. “It has to be me that adapts to them,” he said.
Producer Juan Gordon of Morena Films said that one person had commented that a Spanish company approaching a Hollywood agent was like a company from a province in Pakistan going to an agent in Spain and asking to attach Javier Bardem to their film, so it made sense to partner with a leading U.S. producer to “get that credibility and respect.” Recruiting a top casting director also helps secure leading international actors, he said.
Although Morales preached flexibility, he emphasized that the integrity of the film must not be compromised during the financing process. “The film comes first,” he said at the panel discussion, which focused on internationally pre-financed Spanish films, and was part of the Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum. Morales and Llosa scouted for locations in Eastern Europe before deciding to shoot in Canada.
Gordon said that pre-selling to distributors in some territories was tough. “It’s like selling pork in a Muslim country,” he said. Most distributors would want to see the finished film. “What’s in it for them? They can wait.”
Gordon said filmmakers should keep in close contact with the audience, and develop projects that they want to see, such as genre pics.