One of the founders of production and sales posse Tequila Gang, which signed a first-look deal with Spain's Sogepaq during the San Sebastian film festival, talks to Patrick Frater about the new Mexican wave.
What were the ideas behind the establishment of Tequila Gang two years ago' Do they still hold true'
What matters is that there is something going on in the Spanish-language world. There are interesting talents now after a 10-15 year period in which Latin American cinema had a so-so reputation. We aim to do films that have an audience and are interested not only in established names, but also young directors. We also want to be in more than our local market.
Spread across Mexico and London, how does Tequila Gang work in practice'
We take executive responsibility, raise finance ourselves and have built some very successful relationships, for example those with Spain's El Deseo and Mexico's Alta Vista. The key to these is that they are truly two-way. Alta Vista is the Kinowelt of Latin America: no other independent has the ability to open a film so wide.
How do you finance your pictures'
The Devil's Backbone, which we are co-producing with El Deseo, is working to a $7m budget and required a minimum guarantee. That also involves Canal Plus (Spain), Sogepaq and private equity. Fernando Trueba's film Calle 54 was pre-sold to Miramax for the US and Latin America. Spain and France were production finance countries. But most of our films are in the $1m-$2m bracket.
Why do you combine production and sales'
Only 20%-30% of films produced actually sell out theatrically. The rest only sell in a few territories and do not provide enough to sustain a full sales structure. As a producer we need to defend our own corner, which means handling our own films from London. We are trying to regain a market and are able to do deals that are very valuable to a small production. We have sold On Hidden River to The Sundance Channel, BBC Choice and to Australia. We do not really do third-party pictures, but we will help our network partners.
Is this a model for other Latin American outfits'
It is a model for independents everywhere. It makes sense financially. It's more work, but it is a recognition that the producer's responsibility does not stop with the first festival screening.
What are your next steps'
We will not be expanding in Mexico much more. We are getting projects through the informal networks we have in Chile with Andres Wood and Mercedes Garcia Guevara in Argentina, and we may become involved with other people in Spain. We have three or four first-time director projects and we will continue our focus on music films.
There seems to be an air of renewal in Latin America. What is making the difference'
The new government in Mexico has promised a new film policy from December, but we don't know what this will involve. Other initiatives are making a difference, such as the $100,000 awarded to Loco Fever when it won the script prize in Havana. Also there is a changing Ibero-American attitude. Spanish films are performing in Latin America and there have been more Latino films released in Spain in the last two years than in the previous decade. Communications technology is allowing us to stay in touch better and company strategies are changing - they are thinking globally and have realised that money talks.
In her wide-ranging career as a producer and festival programmer, Rosa Bosch has often been a channel through which the English-language and Latin film communities communicated. She worked as deputy director of the London Film Festival from 1987-97 and was an adviser to San Sebastian. She co-produced Buena Vista Social Club with Road Movies and, two years ago, founded Tequila Gang with Bertha Navarro, Guillermo del Toro, Laura Esquivel and Alejandra Moreno Toscano.