Colombian broadcast giant RCN is looking to shift its film production focus away from local product in favour of low budget English-language genre fare, top brass said on Thursday .
During a tour of the company’s premises in Bogota, newly promoted executive vice-president of international channels Julian Giraldo told a group of mostly US producers and trade press that the move was a result of market forces at home and abroad.
“We are now trying to focus more on co-productions in English,” said Giraldo after screening footage from in-house RCN Films’ first two such projects, Gallows Hill and Default. RCN Films is currently raising funds for a couple of further projects budgeted in the $1m-$3m range.
Although RCN Films has backed more than 45 local titles, Giraldo said it was difficult to raise more than $3m from local investors in Colombia and intimated that indigenous product lacked global appeal.
“That’s why we are moving towards English-language film,” the executive said. “Colombian films don’t fly that much. We’re going to reduce dramatically the number of films we support here.”
RCN fully financed the horror project Gallows Hill, which shot outside Bogota and was set up as a co-production with Peter Block’s LA-based A Bigger Boat.
Giraldo said RCN had already recouped its investment on the back of licensing deals by worldwide sales agent IM Global. Victor Garcia directed Gallows Hill and Peter Facinelli and Sophia Myles star.
RCN also backed Default, the hostage thriller directed by LA-based Colombian Simon Brand whose credits include the 2006 thriller Unknown. Wild Bunch commenced international pre-sales at the AFM last autumn and CAA represents US rights.
Coming up is the Colombian-Spanish Crimen Con Vista Al Mar, which Cine Colombia will release on Aug 16.
Giraldo stressed to the touring party that RCN offers a comprehensive suite of production services for international producers and worked in that capacity on Paul Haggis’ The Next Three Days, which shot in Cartagena and Santa Marta.
The eagerness of Colombia’s key players to engage with US partners was echoed by senior executives at TV production giant Fox Telecolombia at a separate tour on Thursday.
Virginia Cooney, the senior production services executive at Colombo Films, a division of News Corp-owned Fox Telecolombia, said the company was currently bidding on several US productions.
Colombo Films provides production services but thus far has not invested in feature productions. The first filmic project it worked on was the 2009 Colombian short 1989, an English-language project starring Vincent Gallo.
Cooney and Fox Telecolombia commercial director Ana Barreto stressed that among its other services, Colombo Films will file on behalf of US partners for the rebate certificate pertaining to Law 1556, Colombia’s new incentive that encourages international investment and came into effect last spring.
Thus far no co-production has been approved for the rebate. The practicalities of its application are understood to have sparked a spirited discussion between the visiting producers and executives at RTI in a subsequent tour.