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Mexican film industry, and how to get into it


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#1 Andrea Altgayer

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 12:45 PM

Hi there guys, it's Andrea here. I'm quite new to this site, and hope that some of you might help me with a few questions that I have about the Mexican film industry.

I am a Mexican who has been living in South Africa for over 10 years. I am working as a film and TV camera operator here. I am deeply passionate about both the South African and Mexican film industry, but I have been out of touch with the industry developments in my home country. I always hear about the actors and actresses, but I want to hear more about the crew, producers, production companies , directors, and most importantly, the trends, issues and concerns amongst filmmakers in the Mexican film industry.

The reason is that Mexican films have earned so much international acclaim over the past few years.I have read that Mexico produces at least 50 feature films annually, which is excellent compared to the 3 South African features that are made every year. Except for a small handful, South African filmmakers have to rely on commercial films (advertisements for film and TV) to earn a living. I think that this is really bizarre, because South Africa and Mexico have so many things in common. For instance, both are new democracies, which have suffered under oppressive governments for over 40 years;both countries suffer from a huge gap between the rich and the poor, with far many more poor people than middle-class or wealthy people; the industries in both counrties are faced with the United States as a serious competitor in terms of film profitablility, because American culture is dominant all over the world. Yet Mexican films seem to be so much more successful in Mexico, than South African films are here. I would love to find out why this is, especially considering the number of similarities between the two countries.

1. My first question is this: I would like to find out generally, how Mexicans from all walks of life feel about their film industry. How supportive are they of Mexican films? For example, if an ordinary Mexican goes to the cinema and sees posters for two movies; the first one being a Hollywood blockbuster with well-known actors and directors, and the other being a Mexican film, by a well-known Mexican director, and featuring Mexican actors that are just as well known in our country as the American actors, what are the chances that the Mexican film will be chosen over the American film?

2. What have the government and possibly also the private sector have done to promote the industry? What initiatives have been implemented to promote and develop the industry, especially to increase the profitability of Mexican films amongst Mexican audiences? I would really like to know, because I am a member of a group of independent filmmakers, and I was thinking that maybe the same can be done here to boost the South African industry. One last question about profitability - how popular are Mexican films amongst the rest of Latin America?

3. I also want to find out what the biggest obstacles are that are facing the Mexican film industry, and also what are the obstacles that are faced by new filmmakers about to enter the industry, and how well independent producers and films are received and supported.

4. What are the obstacles faced by young people who are entering and beginning their careers in the industry, especially if they are interested in becoming producers, directors or cinematographers/DOPs?

5.Are there many women entering the more technical aspects of filmmaking, eg working as loaders, focus pullers, sound engineers etc? What is being done to promote them into these positions? If they are keen to enter these fields, instead of the more traditionally "female" positions such as makeup and wardrobe, or production secretary, do they experience any discrimination?

6. Lastly, I would like to know how one should go about entering the film industry there. Over here, it is really difficult to get in unless you have contacts, even if you have studied film. Other than that, you can also register with crewing agencies, who hire film crew on behalf of film production companies. Do they also have crewing agencies in Mexico? How difficult is it to get into the industry, especially if you haven't studied film, and have relatively little experience? How easy or difficult is it to crack it and start working as a runner, or PA, and work your way up?

I am planning to go there next year, firstly to visit my family, and also to find out more about the industry, and start making contacts.

I would welcome any tips that you may have with regards to making inroads into the Mexican film industry. I have a resume with references, and am presently preparing my showreel, but I only have around 18 months' experience in the industry over here, and haven't studied film (although I am strongly considering doing a loader's course next year as I have been working mostly on video, and have not yet worked on feature films). I learnt most of what I know through experience.

I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Andrea Altgayer (Ms.)
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#2 MiguelDelValle

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 01:34 PM

Hey Andrea

How interesting your time in South Africa, I am a mexican who had a close relation with another african country and have been involved in film for 14 years now.

Your questions and concerns are normal and I can help you with some opinions although most of them are not as optimistic as they should about the generals of the industry, there are good things of course and we all try to survive to a non existent industry.

You have seen some films out there with succes but industry is a difficult word to translate in therms of film buisness, there is an industry in USA and there is one in India but in México I dont think we can call it like that.

We can talk anything you like but I guess this forum would not be that interested in this opinions or the state of our "industry" so if you like you can write to me direct and can answer all your questions.

alux1(att)hotmail(dot)com

cheers

Miguel del Valle
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#3 Gilbert

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Posted 23 May 2005 - 01:58 AM

Hola Miguel,

I saw your web page, very nice.
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#4 MiguelDelValle

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Posted 25 May 2005 - 03:01 AM

Hey

many thanks!!!

its still under construction and it is not even at 50% but I appreciate your coment.

Edited by MiguelDelValle, 25 May 2005 - 03:04 AM.

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#5 Rene212121

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 11:20 PM

Hi there guys, it's Andrea here. I'm quite new to this site, and hope that some of you might help me with a few questions that I have about the Mexican film industry.

I am a Mexican who has been living in South Africa for over 10 years. I am working as a film and TV camera operator here. I am deeply passionate about both the South African and Mexican film industry, but I have been out of touch with the industry developments in my home country. I always hear about the actors and actresses, but I want to hear more about the crew, producers, production companies , directors,  and most importantly, the trends, issues and concerns amongst filmmakers in the Mexican  film industry.

The reason is that Mexican films have earned so much international acclaim over the past few years.I have read that  Mexico produces at least 50 feature films annually, which is excellent compared to the 3 South African features that are made every year. Except for a  small handful, South African filmmakers have to rely on commercial films (advertisements for film and TV) to earn a living. I think that this is really bizarre, because South Africa and Mexico have so many things in common. For instance, both are new democracies, which have suffered under oppressive governments for over 40 years;both countries suffer from a huge gap between the rich and the poor, with far many more poor people than middle-class or wealthy people; the industries in both counrties are faced with the United States as a serious competitor in terms of film profitablility, because American culture is dominant all over the world.  Yet Mexican films seem to be  so much more successful in Mexico, than South African films are here. I would love to find out why this is, especially considering the number of similarities between the two countries.

1. My first question is this: I would like to find out generally, how Mexicans from all walks of life feel about their film industry. How supportive are they of Mexican films?  For example, if an ordinary Mexican goes to the cinema and sees posters for two movies; the first one being a Hollywood blockbuster with well-known actors and directors, and the other being a Mexican film, by a well-known Mexican director, and featuring  Mexican actors that are just as well known in our country as the American actors, what are the chances that the Mexican film will be chosen over the American film?

2. What  have the government and possibly also the private sector have done to promote the industry?  What initiatives have been implemented to promote and develop the industry, especially to increase the profitability of Mexican films amongst Mexican audiences? I would really like to know, because I am a member of a group of independent filmmakers, and I was thinking that  maybe the same can be done here to boost the South African industry. One last question about profitability  - how popular are Mexican films amongst the rest of Latin America?

3. I also want to find out what the biggest obstacles are that are facing the Mexican film industry, and also what are the obstacles that are faced by new filmmakers about to enter the industry, and how well independent producers and films are received and supported.

4. What are the obstacles faced by young people who are entering and beginning their careers in  the industry, especially if they are interested in becoming producers, directors or cinematographers/DOPs?

5.Are there many women entering the more technical aspects of filmmaking, eg working as loaders, focus pullers, sound engineers etc? What is being done to promote them into these positions? If they are keen to enter these fields, instead of the more traditionally "female" positions such as makeup and wardrobe, or production secretary, do they experience any discrimination?

6. Lastly, I would like to know how one should go about entering the film industry there. Over here, it is really difficult to get in unless you have contacts, even if you have studied film. Other than that, you can also register with crewing agencies, who hire film crew on behalf of film  production companies. Do they also have crewing agencies in Mexico? How difficult is it to get into the industry, especially if you haven't studied film, and have relatively little experience? How easy or difficult is it to crack it and start working as a runner, or PA, and work your way up?

I am planning to go there next year, firstly to visit my family, and also to find out more about the industry, and start making contacts.

I would welcome any tips that you may have with regards to making inroads into the Mexican film industry. I have a resume with references, and am presently preparing my showreel, but I only have around 18 months' experience in the industry over here, and haven't studied film (although I am strongly considering doing a loader's course next year as I have been working mostly on video, and have not yet worked on feature films). I learnt most of what I know through experience.

I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Andrea Altgayer (Ms.)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hey Andrea!

Great to find out that a Mexican woman is trying to make cinema somewhere else in the world...

Ok, to give you some answers:

1.- Today 8 out of 10 people see mexican films in our country, ten years ago it was only 2 out of 10, also in terms of people per showing mexican films do very good but you have to keep in mind that most national features are release with under 100 prints against 600 copies of american films and the difference in advertising budgets is huge...

2.- Government is doing an effort to lend economical resources to promote production under a system that will give you 49% of the movie budget if you're able to come up with the other 51% either on cash or specie, almost half the projects presented to IMCINE are approved. On the other hand government seem very uninterested on defending producers from exhibitors and distributors who get around 90% of the BOX OFFICE. About the rest of Latin America, Mexican films don't do good in other spanish speaking countries, but this has to do with the fact that what we call "New Mexican Cinema" is fairly new and we haven't invested in developing those markets as we must, is a matter of time but at this moment it's not happening...

3.- Biggest obstacle I thinks is the ticket share we the producers get, it makes it almost impossible to return investment even if the movie makes several times it cost in box office, also the fact that most distributers are international and their priority are the American films and they will pull the Mexican film even if it's making good money on the Box Office to put an American movie instead. You have to consider that Mexico is one of the biggest markets of films and logically international distributers don't want their share to diminish so they handle Mexican film more as a public relations strategy then as a business venture...

4.- The biggest obstacle for the ones starting is the lack of work in actual films, you're wrong when you say 50 films are made in Mexico each year, there are 10 on average. But basically every movie is independent and that's really a blessing 'cause you get to keep the control, of course distributor will tell you his observations and suggestions but it's not a matter of change it or else!

5.- You see woman mostly as producers, 1st ad, scrip and directing, I can tell you they're doing good!

6.- It all depends how you want to approach it, if you want to get a job can be very difficult if you don't know anybody, but if you want to raise a project you don't need much contacts aside from the money people. Mexican film cost on average 1.2 million dollars, that's not much and if you remember that IMCINE can put half you can talk some hotel owner to give the rooms, some one to lend you a camera and so on, so maybe you're only looking for 300k cash which is a lot of money but not in terms of cinema. I live in Tijuana just across the border from California and very far away from Mexico city so obviously didn't knew no one and still was able to make my film get it distributed by 20th Century Fox and that with no financing from IMCINE, so I guess it's really a matter of how strong do you want it as anything in life I think...

Good Luck!
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#6 Andrea Altgayer

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 02:53 PM

Hey Andrea!

Great to find out that a Mexican woman is trying to make cinema somewhere else in the world...

Ok, to give you some answers:

1.- Today 8 out of 10 people see mexican films in our country, ten years ago it was only 2 out of 10, also in terms of people per showing mexican films do very good but you have to keep in mind that most national features are release with under 100 prints against 600 copies of american films and the difference in advertising budgets is huge...

2.- Government is doing an effort to lend economical resources to promote production under a system that will give you 49% of the movie budget if you're able to come up with the other 51% either on cash or specie, almost half the projects presented to IMCINE are approved. On the other hand government seem very uninterested on defending producers from exhibitors and distributors who get around 90% of the BOX OFFICE. About the rest of Latin America, Mexican films don't do good in other spanish speaking countries, but this has to do with the fact that what we call "New Mexican Cinema" is fairly new and we haven't invested in developing those markets as we must, is a matter of time but at this moment it's not happening...

3.- Biggest obstacle I thinks is the ticket share we the producers get, it makes it almost impossible to return investment even if the movie makes several times it cost in box office, also the fact that most distributers are international and their priority are the American films and they will pull the Mexican film even if it's making good money on the Box Office to put an American movie instead. You have to consider that Mexico is one of the biggest markets of films and logically international distributers don't want their share to diminish so they handle Mexican film more as a public relations strategy then as a business venture...

4.- The biggest obstacle for the ones starting is the lack of work in actual films, you're wrong when you say 50 films are made in Mexico each year, there are 10 on average. But basically every movie is independent and that's really a blessing 'cause you get to keep the control, of course distributor will tell you his observations and suggestions but it's not a matter of change it or else!

5.- You see woman mostly as producers, 1st ad, scrip and directing, I can tell you they're doing good!

6.- It all depends how you want to approach it, if you want to get a job can be very difficult if you don't know anybody, but if you want to raise a project you don't need much contacts aside from the money people. Mexican film cost on average 1.2 million dollars, that's not much and if you remember that IMCINE can put half you can talk some hotel owner to give the rooms, some one to lend you a camera and so on, so maybe you're only looking for 300k cash which is a lot of money but not in terms of cinema. I live in Tijuana just across the border from California and very far away from Mexico city so obviously didn't knew no one and still was able to make my film get it distributed by 20th Century Fox and that with no financing from IMCINE, so I guess it's really a matter of how strong do you want it as anything in life I think...

Good Luck!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


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#7 Andrea Altgayer

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 02:55 PM

Muchisimas gracias Rene! :)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


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#8 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 02:03 AM

I live in El Paso and go every year to the border film festival. Usually it's heavily loaded toward mexican filmmakers and actors. Some of the better know directors and actors can't make a living in the mexican film industry because it is contolled by the government and a handful of people. I spoke with these guys last year and their complaint was that there were so few films made. They were doing television just to survive. I would say DO FILMS IN AND ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA. What a rich land with stories that should be told! I know your heritage is Mexico but this gives you a unique perspective from which to veiw South Africa and her people. Get an affordable camera and make a movie!
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