Dramatic Growth Brings New Day for Ecuadorian Cinema
Film production has undergone a seismic shift in Ecuador, where output has jumped to five to six pics annually compared to a single pic every three years in the ’90s and early 2000s.
Key factors behind this dramatic growth include the creation of film institute CnCine, a film fund, digital technology, more film schools and a new generation of savvy multihyphenates. For the first time, Ecuador is sending a contingent to Cannes’ Producers Network.
Pivotal support from Ecuador president Rafael Correa led to the founding of CnCine (Consejo Nacional de Cinematografia) in 2006. Since the annual film fund of $700,000 kicked in the next year, the org has backed 97 narrative and non-fiction features, per CnCine head Jorge Luis Serrano. “We hope to back at least another 15 films in 2013,” he says.
Tack on the annual contribution of $300,000 from Ibero-American film support program Ibermedia and Ecuador has $1 million to dole out to filmmakers, Serrano says.
It may seem a paltry sum in the Hollywood scheme of things, but the growing use of affordable digital cameras has kept production budgets small. Being a nascent industry, most filmmakers multitask and their themes are generally personal. “We dwell on what we know,” says Saudade helmer-scribe Juan Carlos Donoso.
In many cases, these talents produce, edit, write, helm and even compose their own soundtracks as in the case of award-winning pianist Ivan Mora, who shot his feature debut “Sin otono,” sin primavera with a 7D Digital SLR Canon, as well as assumed editing and film score duties.
A communications bill pending ratification in late May could be a game changer. If approved, Ecuador’s five national TV channels would be obliged to back at least two local pics a year, spending at least 3% of their net income. They would also have to fulfill a 40% programming quota of homegrown product, of which 10% must be acquired from indies.
“This means an additional influx of some $8 million toward film production, an exponential leap from the total of $7 million that has been has invested in local films so far,” Serrano says.
Also pending congressional approval is intellectual property legislation, which aims to give more protection to thesps and ensure the proper collection of intellectual property rights.