Julio Fernández • Producer
"If they spend a quarter of an hour explaining what the film is about, I'm not interested&#"
- Filmax, a recognised brand for genre cinema. Its director tells us what makes it work
Practically all Spanish producers will agree that you cannot produce a project only for Spain, as you have to conceive it for the international market to ensure its economic viability. But there are many less who will say this, and actually do it. One of these is without a doubt Julio Fernández, who describes himself more as an entrepreneur than a producer, and founded Filmax to push genre cinema worldwide.
“For many, Filmax is a reference brand,” explains Fernández. Our films can be better or worse, but no one doubts that they will be of a certain level, strong. It has been a lengthy process, not one of just three films. We have made about 100 films in 15 years, which can be compared to what the American studios do, with all the existing differences.”
Among his productions, the two films of the REC [+see also:
interview: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
interview: Julio Fernández
film profile] saga, Brad Anderson’s The Machinist [+see also:
film profile] (2004) and Transsiberian [+see also:
film profile] (2008), as well as Tom Tykwer’s The Perfume [+see also:
film profile] (2006) stand out.
Today, successful productions have international viability: “When we invest, we don’t consider a project with a great number of international sales. With financial support, we can move forward. Both in genre cinema and in animation, these are projects that have been conceived to travel. They are universal stories.”
A prominent international sales division at Filmax International has taken centre stage: “When we realised that the crisis was coming, we decided to channel investments towards international distribution. It could go wrong in one continent or the other, but it’s not the same having a product for 35 million people as it is for 7,000 million. The risk is mush more atomised.”
“I want clear concepts”, he says categorically. “Sometimes, when they come and present me a project, I tell them that if they have to spend a quarter of an hour explaining to me what the film is about, I’m not interested. The clarity of concepts is what allows us to find distributors in other countries and the film’s target audience.”
But this is not the only key concept for Filmax, often described as a mini major. Also important is “Integration: to be in all areas of the sector, from production to distribution, via international sales, services, and screenings. Thanks to this, we have a very high level of knowledge and information. As we have experts in international sales, we know what elements to add to a project to made it more attractive in an entire continent. We end up making a project that may not be a 10 for Spain, but is a 6 for the whole world.”
“I know it might sound bad, but you have to buy talent. The key is to start up business projects that allow you, not to shoot a film, but to have continuity. Only then can you have access to the best directors, actors, and technicians. This is where the stamp of production comes from,” he said. “All of them, the scriptwriter, the director, say it is their film, but really it’s ours. It’s a joint effort. I tell the director that we won’t take on anyone he doesn’t want, but let him give me three alternatives. The producer is the one who has the last word.”
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