×

Mexico’s Nicolas Celis Prepares First TV Series ‘Monstruos Perfectos’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Pimienta Films is also completing Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Roma’ and Ciro Guerra’s ‘Birds of Passage’

PANAMA CITY — Pimienta Films, one of Mexico’s leading production outfits, is completing production on Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” his first picture lensed in Mexico since “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” and “Birds of Passage,” from Colombia’s Oscar nominated Ciro Guerra (“Embrace of the Serpent”).

Pimienta is also prepping its first TV series, “Monstruos Perfectos,” which recently received development support from the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE) under the new TV series support scheme launched in late 2016.

“Monstruos” is set in Mexico and will be produced by Pimienta, with external producers Marion d’Ornato and Enrique M. Rizo. Rizo has worked with Celis as second assistant director on “Semana Santa,” and as production manager on “Tempestad,” “Soy Nero,” and “The Untamed.”

“This will be my first experience in TV,” Celis revealed to Variety, although he refrained from outlining the story. “I’m really happy to jump aboard. For me this is completely new world. I really love that IMCINE is exploring new content opportunities. We want to make a TV series that’s much more cinematic, than TV series produced in Mexico so far.”

30-year old Celis said that it’s been great to work with Alfonso Cuaron on “Roma,” having previously worked with his brother, Carlos, on “Rudo y Cursi,” early in his career, and having been one of the producers on the 2015 pic “Desierto,” by his son, Jonas.

Popular on Variety

“Roma” chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s and is produced by Cuaron, Celis, Gabriela Rodriguez (“Gravity”), and exec produced by Participant Media.

“Roma” is Celis’ first period movie. Its 1970s setting was prior to his own birth – in 1986 – which he says provoked some wisecracks during the shoot. “For me it’s been my most challenging and interesting project so far. I’m a big fan of Alfonso’s work since a kid and I loved that he wanted me to work on his new film.”

Guerra’s “Birds of Passage” is also set in the 1970s and is produced by Colombia’s Ciudad Lunar (Cristina Gallego and Katrin Pors), as well as Celis and Argentine producers MC Productions and Buffalo Films, with Colombia’s Caracol TV also on board.

Celis previously worked with Pors on “The Untamed.” “Working with Katrin has been a great discovery,” said Celis. “We’re trying to work with her on our next projects.”

The Mexican producer said that “Birds” – which is still shooting – has been a difficult task because they have been lensing in La Guajira desert, in 35mm, hours from Bogota and without any nearby film lab. But  he is a great admirer of Guerra. “Fortunately we got attached right before he finished ‘Embrace of the Serpent’,” says Celis. “It’s been very organic to be part of this project.”

Celis commented that he’s very excited about future projects because in Mexico it’s possible to finance a wide variety of different genres and budget levels and says that IMCINE is very open to foreign co-productions, which has allowed him to board projects such as the German-French-Mexican co-prod “Soy Nero,” by Rafi Pitts that screened in Berlin.

Celis also works regularly with Jim Jarmusch’s long-time producer, Jim Stark, who recently bought a house in Mexico, near to Celis.

“Jim is always on the lookout for new projects and new talent. He’s introduced me to interesting people and is a great ally. He connects me with talent, directors, from other countries. He’s been a mentor in that sense,” said Celis adding that Stark has boarded several Pimiento Films projescts, “sometimes in terms of finance and distribution, sometimes the script. We both love films, we spend vacations together. He helps me keep my feet on the ground.”

Celis says that he’s delighted to attend the Panama Film Festival, his first time in the country, since it has allowed him to see his pics “The Untamed” and “Tempestad” with an audience, given that he wasn’t able to attend the pics’ previous festival screenings.

More intimate festivals such as Panama are the best way to meet new producers and directors. “In big market-festivals, you don’t have time. At Panama, you have time to watch movies, have a coffee and talk about films. Those are the biggest connections.”

Finally, he revealed that he has no interest in directing. “It’s really great to be number two. You get the whole experience. I like being close to fire but not getting burned.”

More Film

  • Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star

    Box Office: 'Bad Boys for Life' Soaring to $70 Million Opening

    “Bad Boys for Life” is tracking for a solid launch with as much as $70 million at 3,740 venues in North America over the four-day holiday weekend, early estimates showed Friday. Universal’s opening of its fantasy-adventure “Dolittle” should wind up in second with about $30 million. That’s somewhat above studio expectations for the Robert Downey [...]

  • Olivia Colman Phoebe Waller Bridge Brad

    SAG Awards Predictions 2020: 'Parasite,' 'Fleabag' and Other Top Contenders

    No matter who wins at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, it will be a surprise. That’s because there aren’t many obvious frontrunners in either the TV or film categories at this year’s competition. Around 160,000 members from across the country vote for the SAG Awards, and with such a large voting body, members [...]

  • This is Us

    Los Angeles On-Location Production Slides 5% in Fourth Quarter

    Overall on-location filming in Los Angeles dropped 5% from October through December, according to a report released by permitting agency FilmLA on Friday. Officials said the decline in overall shoot days to 9,839 was due partly to record activity levels in 2018, which generated the highest level of local production activity of any quarter in [...]

  • Charlize Theron Jay Roach Bombshell BTS

    How Charlize Theron Helped Save Her 'Bombshell' Production

    Exactly two weeks before “Bombshell” was set to begin shooting, Annapurna backed out of the $35 million production. Producer Charlize Theron, who also stars in the film, was on a location scout with production department heads when she heard the bad news. “We had [cast] Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie — two of the busiest [...]

  • Wasp Network

    Netflix Scoops Olivier Assayas's 'Wasp Network' With Penelope Cruz, Edgar Ramirez (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has acquired U.S. rights and several other territories for Olivier Assayas’ “Wasp Network,” the Cuban spy thriller headlined by Penelope Cruz and Edgar Ramirez which world premiered at Venice last year, Variety has learned. The streaming giant is believed to have bought international rights to the film outside of China, Eastern Europe, Greece, Portugal, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content