BOGOTA – Positioning itself as a key Colombian player both for producing film and TV for international markets and providing services on international shoots, Bogota-based Dynamo, a founding member of Participant PanAmerica, is moving into production on two contained-budget Spanish-language movies.
The feature debut of music-vid director Mateo Stivelberg, who caught attention with short “Koko,” “La Rectora” (pictured), a college-set drama thriller, is now shooting.
Another young Colombian commercials and music-vid director, Salomon Simhon, whose short “Smile” won best drama at the U.S. Great Star ShortFest, will direct a second feature, working time “Maranon,” that marks a attempt to create four detective characters, which could be the basis for future franchises, Agatha Christie-style, Dynamo CEO Andres Calderon said at the Bogota Audiovisual Market (BAM).
Both Stivelberg and Simhon are first-time feature film directors. Made on contained budgets, the two Spanish-language pics target Colombia, pan-regional Latin American deals and the U.S. Hispanic market, he added.
They form part of a two-tier production strategy at Dynamo, Calderon said.
“There are three different options for films in Colombia: A first, which is great, would be mainstream comedies, targeted at wide audiences, which Dago Garcia is doing a great job on making them; secondly, arthouse movies, of which Colombia makes plenty; then crossover titles such as ‘’The Hidden Face,’ ‘Undertow,’ ‘Que Viva la Musica!’ The challenge of these movies is that the budget is too expensive to recoup in Colombia, but you don’t have the cast to be really attractive for international sales agents, though ‘The Hidden Face’ did very well internationally. But in general you need English-speaking cast,” Calderon said.
“So right now we’re betting on contained budget movies, since it is hard to recoup from Colombia, and also on English-speaking movies at $3 million-$10 million, like ‘Out of the Dark,’ with Julia Stiles.”
Aim is for the films’ behind-the-camera talent to be pretty much new to feature filmmaking.
“I was so happy when I went to the set of ‘La rectora’ because I didn’t know anybody from the crew. They are all young people, have great attitude. It reminded me of when we shot [Dynamo’s first production] ‘Satanas’ eight years ago,” said Calderon.
Pics address head-on a crucial challenge for Colombia’s services industry: the creation of an international-standard local talent base which means producers do not have to crew up outside Colombia when shooting there.
“Colombia has a lot of talent. But it’s going to need more. So we want to create a new-talent incubator. Right now we’re welcoming a couple of foreign shows between film and TV but more production companies will come next year, meaning maybe 20 shoots in all.” Calderon explained.
He added: “Colombia’s industry is growing and now that we’re welcoming big productions in Colombia, we know we’re lacking a wide-enough base of extremely talented people: Technicians, art departments, make-up specialists, across-the-board crews. The only way to solve that is to nurse new talent.”
The need for foreign producers to fly in large crews for lack of high-grade local talent could wipe out the savings gained by Colombia’s relative low costs and 20%-40% rebates on local spend now being offered to international shoots.