BAJA FEST, LOS CABOS – Founded in 2011 by director Jorge Michel Grau (“We Are What We Are,” “Big Sky”) and producer Mayra Espinosa Castro, Mexico City’s Velarium Arts has unveiled an extensive – and still-growing – slate for 2014-15.
Featuring what could well be Grau‘s next two films – “Keep Quiet” and “Yamaha 300” – plus projects from buzzed-up, young Mexican helmers, Daniel Castro Zimbron’s “The Darkness” and Rodrigo Hernandez’s “Multiplier,” the portfolio, which Grau and Castro brought to the Baja Fest’s “Meet Your Neighbors” co-prod forum, confirms Velarium as one of Latin America’s fast-emerging genre hubs.
Velarium’s projects also underscore the rapidly burgeoning Mexico-U.S. axis opening up for genre production with Grau and Castro working the extensive connections they have developed, thanks to Grau’s first two movies, to explore financing and production alliances not only in Europe – a natural partner given the auteur skew of Velarium Arts – but also the with the increasingly more cosmopolitan U.S. independent industry.
Starring Damian Alcazar (“The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,”), Juan Carlos Colombo (“Refugio”) and Cuban actress Mirielys Cejas, horror thriller “Keep Quiet” turns on an increasingly violent adolescent son who thinks his father is a werewolf, whom he’ll have to kill.
Alejandro Romero and Rafael Ley’s Mr Woo (“Voy a explotar”) co-produce out of the U.S.
XYZ Films has acquired international sales rights and has closed an early pre-sale with France’s Wild Side Films which, having released “Somos,” will also distribute “Quiet” in France. XYZ Films’ Todd Brown and Nate Bolotin will exec produce.
Velarium’s gameplan is to shoot “Keep Quiet” in 2014, and “Yamaha 300” first third 2015, said Castro.
Given U.S. interest in “Yamaha” – which is low-budget, set off the coast of Miami during the ‘70s/’80s cocaine boom, and has a third of its dialogues in English – potential financing for “Yamaha 300” could well come together fast, she added.
Based on the same-titled stage play by Mexico’s Cuberto Lopez, turns on two narco mules waiting for a consignment on a high-speed launch on the open sea.
A suspense-thriller with action elements, “Yamaha 300” is “about two people trying to survive in the drug trade, an exploration of solitude, betrayal, distrust, violence, fear,” Grau said.
Screenplay, by Grau, is at second draft. Velarium aims to structure “Yamaha” as a Mexico-U.S. or Mexico-Canada co-production, Castro said.
Helmed by Rodrigo Hernandez, the space-set sci-fi/horror pic “Multiplier” centers on a Chinese mega-company employee who monitors multipliers: Now-prohibited machines once dispatched to remote galaxies to multiply clones, which made planets suitable for humans. He’s offered a mission he cannot refuse.
Again, pic would be low-budget, and framed if possible as a Mexico-U.S. or Mexico-Canada co-prod.
“What we’re trying to do is to attract projects from new
Mexican directors who need to finance their own projects and bring our web of industry contacts –sales agents, distributors, film commissions – to the table, allowing them to make their films,” Grau said.
“Also, we’d love to promote Mexican sci-fi, which has been little explored in Mexico.”
Produced by Pablo Zimbron at Varios Lobos, with Velarium co-producing, and directed by Daniel Castro (“TAU”), “The Darkness” has pulled down Foprocine Mexican subsidy coin. The screenplay is complete. A psychological thriller about a family in an isolated hamlet cabin, said Zimbron, “Darkness” is skedded to roll second half 2014.
Like “Somos” and “Quiet,” “Darkness” focuses on “family dynamics in extreme circumstances,” Grau said.
Velarium is also in talks with Mexico’s David Michan to exec produce cannibal thriller “Eat Me,” on which Grau jas served as a script consultant.
“The nearness and immediacy of Mexico is important for the U.S. to discover talent in Mexico. But the key is that there is a lot of Mexican genre talent and directors with very high-quality projects,” Grau concluded.