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The business of making good films in Spain


Four of the five feature films nominated for best film at this year's Goyas have been promoted by a new generation of producers determined to make quality and committed films. Along with five veterans, they talk about the keys to turning a film project into a success

When Javier Salas shot the photograph that occupies the central pages of this report, he portrayed a legacy and careers that add up to 183 Goya awards for his filmographies, four Hollywood Oscars, two Golden Globes and various awards at the Cannes, Venice, Berlin, San Sebastián... It is part of the harvest of all the film producers who were cited by EL PAÍS Semanal to give an account of their original, constant and fundamental work when it comes to building a film.

Many times they ignite the germ that later leads to success, with creative components often comparable to those of a screenwriter, director or performer.

They are enterprising, active, they mix cinephilia with financial instinct, sensitivity with a practical sense.

They become accomplices and good advisors to the creators.

Without them,

The producers represent the first pillar of an industry that, in this edition of the Goya Awards, also marks a generational change in its field.

Four of the candidates this year for best film have been produced by names that have not yet turned 50 and have not yet achieved a

big head,

the nickname with which the award is known in the industry.

They pose on these pages along with other consecrated people with some of their shelves full.

All of them have decided to follow the path of cinema as authentic builders of those shadows that draw current worlds and fantasy universes on the screen.


Trailer of the movie 'As bestas'

Among the five favorites for this year's edition —

As Bestas, Cinco Lobitos, La maternal, Alcarrás


Modelo 77

— appear in the credits Eduardo Villanueva, from Caballo Films, Nahikari Ipiña, from Sayaka producciones, Álex Lafuente, from BTEAM, María Zamora, from Elástica Films and José Antonio Félez (Atípica Films), respectively.

They are the names behind the candidates for best Spanish film of the year.

All of them, together with other fellow producers, have produced a great harvest.

Stories that combine public success with quality and extraordinary critics.

In other words, the mother of the lamb of the trade, what any self-respecting filmmaker pursues: building works of art that bring people together in theaters and get the applause of fans and the best evaluations of experts.

Quality and endorsement, creative demand and pleasure.

They are difficult formulas to curdle.

When asked how it is achieved, neither the youngest nor the most veterans admit to knowing the answer.

If anything, methods or ways of approaching it.

When we ask those who have more extensive careers, such as Jaume Roures (Mediapro), Gerardo Herrero and Mariela Besuievsky (Tornasol Media), Fernando Bovaira (Mod Pictures) or Álvaro Longoria (Morena Films) they could give a master's degree.

But the secret, really, they claim to not know.

However, that is largely why they continue in this business.

They are moved by a mixture of passion and vocation, they are intrigued by that point of mystery and they accept a large dose of challenge when it comes to trying to play the key in the viewer that moves, that captivates, that leads directly to success.

A new generation.

From left to right, the producers who are candidates for best film at the next Goya gala: Álex Lafuente ('La Maternal'), with a Marciano Guess shirt and his own clothes;

Nahikari Ipiña ('Five little wolves'), with a trench coat by Elena Miró over his clothes;

Eduardo Villanueva ('As bestas'), with a Prada raincoat, a Mirto shirt, PdH pants and Martinelli boots;

José Antonio Félez ('Modelo 77'), with his own clothing, and María Zamora ('Alcarràs'), who is wearing an Emporio Armani suit, Uno de 50 necklace and earring, and her own ankle boots.Javier Salas

In this sense, 2022 also represents a moral lever, reinforcing the confidence of a sector affected by various crises that begin with the business model itself and end with more than a decade of contexts in which they have had to weather real storms.

Last year also started in the best way for Spanish cinema: with the Golden Bear in Berlin for Carla Simón y


"People ask me what I thought when we went up to pick it up and I always say the same thing: that with that we would make sure, at least, that we will do the next three projects however we want," says María Zamora, its producer.

The spirit of Spanish cinema was already low before the pandemic, when the abandonment of theaters was palpable due to competition from platforms.

The covid crisis multiplied pessimism, until talent came to the rescue and box office hits such as

As bestas, Cinco lobitos, Modelo 77



have increased optimism this season with good collections.

It was something that timidly began to happen last year with the success of

El buen patrón

, by Fernando León de Aranoa.

Javier Bardem was a perfect claim as the protagonist in the production of The Mediapro Studio.


Trailer of 'Alcarràs'

The previous year, production had marked an acceptable trend.

The industry had to take the pulse again.

273 feature films were finished —50 more than in 2020— in which 98.32 million euros were invested, according to Statista data.

Some of them are the ones that have triumphed in 2022 by achieving that magical mix of quality and success in theaters, which has placed

As bestas, Alcarrás


Modelo 77

among the 10 most viewed along with blockbusters from the local industry in which they have stood out.

Father there is only one 3, Tadeo Jones


the emerald table

—both have exceeded two million viewers— or

God's crooked lines


Even so, as they never tire of repeating, they don't know the secret: “Oh, not even Spielberg knows that!” says José Antonio Félez, producer of the prison drama directed by Alberto Rodríguez.

He is the filmmaker whom Atípica Films, with more than 30 feature films behind it, has accompanied since he shot

The Pilgrim Factor

, the first of the eight films signed by the Andalusian.

"You have to be honest with what you are trying to do, commit to it, but also not forget that in the cinema, an important part resides in the entertainment."

And that defines Rodríguez's cinema, but also that of other directors such as Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, whom Félez has supported on his journey.


Trailer of 'Model 77'

Evasion is crucial, but also knowing the pulse of what is moving in societies.

And it's hard to get that right.

Movie times are slow;

tendencies, sometimes, mirages.

A good producer must know how to guess where events are heading.

They are generally great readers, they are up to date, they are characterized by an enormous curiosity, when they leave the house they put the radar to connect with the street.

They also have great intuition.

"You can start a project four years before it is released, you must work well in advance and in that period sometimes what you have thought you identified as a sign of the times happens," says Bovaira, winner of a Hollywood Oscar for

Mar adentro

, by Alejandro Amenábar, its fetish director, and a total of 58


in different sections in his films.

You must also measure the economic aspect well: "With an investment for each film appropriate to the potential audience it has."

Sometimes that exceeds expectations for the better, or for the better.

This is what has happened this year with

As bestas

, by Rodrigo Sorogoyen.

With its 17 Goya nominations, it had collected 4 million euros at the box office until the last week of January.

In large part, Eduardo Villanueva believes that his success is due to effective risk management.

Not in a castrating and containment sense, but rather encouragement: “At Caballo Films, we look for them”, he assures.

The proof is in his career side by side with the director, from his beginnings with


his second work.

Villanueva, at 41 years old, is the youngest of the appointment and represents a generation that drinks in current problems and exposes them openly in his cinema: “The accelerated social changes, the fact of the transformation itself, we are interested in reflecting it.

As well as feminism, the contrast between the urban and the rural, the impact of the digital world on our societies, climate change…”, affirms the producer of Caballo Films, who teamed up to carry out

As bestas

with Arcadia Motion Pictures, Crosnos Entertainment and the French Le Pacte.

female affinities.

Uruguayan Mariela Besuievsky (on the left), wearing her own clothes, Max Mara skirt and Tod's boots.

She is a production legend in Spain and Latin America.

A reference for the younger generation of producers such as María Zamora (sitting, with the same clothes as in previous images) and Nahikari Ipiña, who wears an Elena Miró jacket and her own clothes. Javier Salas

This inclination towards commitment is shared by Villanueva with Jaume Roures (Barcelona, ​​73 years old), the oldest in the meeting.

For the owner of Mediapro —629 national and international awards, since his career began in 1994—, the essential thing is to partner with good directors and screenwriters for each project.

He has bet on the careers of Fernando León de Aranoa, Manuel Huerga or Isabel Coixet.

And internationally, he has financed a large part of Woody Allen's latest films, from

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

, ​​with which Penélope Cruz won an Oscar.

In each film that he has participated in, he finds a common link: "Dissecting today's society."

Roures is glad to have lived in a time when, at least, he says, "people went to the movies."

Not everyone is sure viewers will return to pre-2020 levels. But according to data from comScore, theater attendance grew 45% in 2022 compared to 2021. A total of 61.2 million tickets sold left a total box office collection of 379 million euros.

It is 49% more than the previous year, but 39% less than the average between 2015 and 2019. There is still…

And together with the most commercial or purely evasive cinema, it is necessary to resist with bets that speak of our societies in crisis and in conflict.

"Not resign ourselves," says Roures, "to talent coming from Los Angeles."

For this reason, his generation opted, according to him, for creating an industry.

"A dregs, a foundation."

But that is something that Gerardo Herrero questions.

“Despite having been the intention, we have not generated a powerful industry.

I hope the new generation will take care of that…”.

He throws it like a fire.

And there are María Zamora, a 47-year-old Valencian, Nahikari Ipiña (Bilbao, 45), Álex Lafuente (Benicassim, 42) and Eduardo Villanueva to take note.

It may be that before the bloody crisis of 2008 it was about to become a reality.

But the blow of that


destroyed all fabric and several of the bridges that had been built in Spain with Latin America.

Herrero was one of the most active in that strategy along with his wife, Mariela Besuievsky in Tornasol.

She began her career in Uruguay with

El dirigible

, by Pablo Dotta (1994).

Later he has already been responsible for hits such as

El secreto de sus ojos

, by Juan José Campanella, Oscar for best non-English language film in 2009 or

El hijo e la novia

, by the same Argentine director and Hollywood candidate for the same category. in 2001.


Trailer of 'The motherly'

“There was a time when Spanish producers had a good position in Latin America,” says Besuievsky.

He talks about the late nineties and the first decade of the 21st century.

But the crisis ended that impulse.

“There was a turning point.

Each country withdrew into more local issues, not global ones.

Spain, if you want, something more than others, even.

And they lost all the ground they had gained”, assures the Uruguayan producer.

Later they did not even know how to take advantage of the language and today other European countries are stronger in that territory.

“France and Germany have won the battle.

And recently also Italy.

They have occupied that place.

We lost it and we haven't recovered it."

Besuievsky does not understand that both businessmen and politicians do not bet on the link in Spanish, the language, as an advantage.

“They don't see it,” he says.

It turns out something that amazes.

A card that the veterans have tried to play and that is among the aspirations of the youngest but not, perhaps among their priorities.

They are all characterized, yes, by a search for risk in their trade, as Villanueva said.

Almost as a main starting point, says Álex Lafuente, responsible with Valérie Delpierre for

La maternal.

Pilar Palomero's film competes with


, the film by Carlos Vermut that Lafuente has also produced, to this edition of the Goya.

And they coincide in sections such as the best direction.

When that award is settled, he will be heartbroken.

But there is no doubt that they are two bets that are characterized by radicalism and the search for other paths.

“Our cinema does not aspire to commercial success in the first place.

We look for quality without compromise along the way and we believe that it is already worth the effort ”, he affirms.

“Being proud of what you have done”, in the end, is what marks your work, believes Álvaro Longoria, from Morena Films.

He has already experienced some memorable nights at the Goya gala, such as the triumph of

Cell 211

, with eight awards for the film by Daniel Monzón.

But the secret to success is an enigma to him.

“As José Luis Garci says, if we knew, the movies would be made by the banks,” says Longoria.


Trailer of 'Five little wolves'

What must exist from the beginning is authentic complicity with the director.

"Mutual support on a long road that requires trust, basic creative affinity and providing all possible technical and human quality to the project," says Nahikari Ipiña, producer of

Cinco lobitos

, the film by Alauda Ruiz de Azúa that has won over a good audience. part of the public

In that, José Antonio Félez delves into: “In recent years there has been an improvement at a technical level in all the trades that concur in the cinema.

Today they are very good”.

There is a moment of terror in the process.

"When you see that the affinity is not working and you see it coming," says Ipiña.

And something crucial is broken because, as Zamora says, "the most enduring dance couple in a film is the one formed by the producer and the director."

The problem is that sometimes you realize that bankruptcy too late.

“So there's hardly anything left to do,” Longoria says.

Perhaps the alliances are part of the generational genetics of the new batch.

"We have been trained in a more collaborative culture," says María Zamora.

“Less hierarchical, more transversal, adds the person in charge of


"We very naturally seek synergies, allies," says Ipiña, who has produced

Cinco Lobitos

with Manuel Calvo (Encanta Films) and Marisa Fernández Armenteros (Buena Pinta Media), as well as in the film by Carla Simón, Avalon PC, Vilaüt Fils and Kino Produzioni have also participated.

Along with all these elements, perhaps the most accurate summary of the formula for success to curdle a great success film is in the vade mecum offered by Gerardo Herrero.

He knows how to see it from two perspectives, because he has also developed his career as a director in one of the most fruitful two-way careers in Spanish cinema: “A great script, popular connection, good director, raising enough money to produce well, allying with a suitable distribution, make a very good promotion, find a release at an important festival and, to round it all off, not make a mistake on the release date: that is, avoid a Philomena-type storm, a covid or a war.

But that no longer depends on us…”.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-02-05

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