Hot helmers set to roll on vet’s horror wheel

One-hour co-prod'ns overseen by vet Ibanez Serrador

MADRID Spanish mini-studio Filmax is teaming with broadcaster Telecinco to produce six TV horror movies, five by Spain’s hottest young helmers.

Entitled “Peliculas para no dormir” (Films That Won’t Let You Sleep), the one-hour co-productions will be overseen by vet horror helmer Chicho Ibanez Serrador, who will also direct one. His movies, including “The Boarding School” (1969) and “Who Can Kill a Child?” (1976), and 1964 TV series “Stories That Won’t Let You Sleep,” were skin-crawling hits in Spain.

The series breaks several barriers. It’s the first time directors of the caliber of Jaume Balaguero (“Darkness”), Alex de la Iglesia (“800 Bullets”), Alejandro Amenabar co-scribe Mateo Gil (“Nobody Knows Anybody”), Paco Plaza (“Romasanta”) and Enrique Urbizu (“Box 507”), have collectively boarded a TV project.

“Films” also attempts to make TV movies a viable commercial genre in Spain.

While pushed by some broadcasters, such as Catalonia pubcaster Televisio de Catalunya (TVC), TV movies have proved hard to sell to other webs in Spain and abroad. Many projects stall from lack of financing.

Spanish program honchos also say TV movies are hard to slot into schedules.

Yet, by general consensus, Spain makes too many features — 110 in 2003 — and most producers say production coin should be channeled into TV movies instead.

“Films” takes these financing issues by the horns. Per Filmax prexy Julio Fernandez, the TV movies will cost around $3.2 million, the same as an average feature in Spain.

Some pics may be shot in English, and horror pics travel far better than other genres, he adds. They will be sold by Filmax’s sales arm Filmax Intl.

TV movies count toward Spanish broadcasters’ obligatory investment quotas in European production.

By next year, when the government is expected to double the central subsidy fund to some $??,000, TV movies may also qualify for subsidies.

Based on original screenplays, the TV movies’ themes vary widely, says de la Iglesia.

But they borrow on the psychological terror popularized by Japanese producer Taka Ichise (“The Ring”), being chillers rather than gore-fiestas.

And many involve that chiller staple: children. “Children scare me, the younger they are, the scarier they are,” says Ibanez Serrador, probably only half in jest.

De la Iglesia will roll first, shooting “La habitacion del nino” (The Child’s Room) in September; Balaguero’s “Para entrar a vivir” (Enter to Live) will be the last to go. Ibanez Serrador will direct a chiller-thriller “El ser.” The pics will be ready for delivery in a year.

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