Pedro Hernández Santos
Producers on the Move 2016 – Spain
by Alfonso Rivera
- Spanish producer Pedro Hernández Santos heads up Aqui y Allí films, a platform for some of Spain’s most original directors, among them Carlos Vermut and Miguel del Arco
Pedro Hernández Santos began his career as a producer with the film Here and There [+see also:
interview: Pedro Hernández
film profile], directed by Antonio Méndez Esparza (winner of the Critics’ Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival 2012), who sent him the script after he had just lost his job as an industrial engineer. Hernández used his redundancy payment to set up his own production company, Aquí y Allí Films, which would go on to release a number of critically acclaimed feature films, including Magical Girl [+see also:
interview: Carlos Vermut
film profile], directed by Carlos Vermut (winner of the Golden Shell at the San Sebastián Film Festival 2014), Hablar [+see also:
interview: Joaquín Oristrell
film profile], by Joaquín Oristrell, and Las Furias [+see also:
film profile] (read the news), which marks the cinematic debut of renowned theatre actor Miguel del Arco.
Cineuropa: What’s the plan for this new film – will you be bringing it to any festivals this year?
Pedro Hernández Santos: We’ve signed a distribution agreement for Las Furias with Wanda, they just really like the film, but I have no idea what will happen on an international level. It’s a more mainstream film than Magical Girl, although it’s still pretty crazy; it’s about a family and the issues that come to the surface when they all get together. We’d love to take it to San Sebastián, but there are other exciting festivals coming up before that, like Locarno and Venice.
Why is it that you won’t be producing Carlos Vermut’s next film, which has gone to Apaches Entertainment instead?
There’s no big scandal there – we’re a small production company and all of the films we’ve made so far have been funded by private investors and pre-sales, without any government support. We just don’t have the resources to deliver other projects while also supporting Vermut as he works on the script. Carlos could have had any producer he wanted, and it’s not easy for us to compete in that league at the moment. We’re still on excellent terms and we very much hope to work with him again in the future.
Are you the kind of producer who defers to the director, or do you prefer to take an active role throughout the whole creative process?
I see myself as part the process of creating the conditions, whether financial or artistic, in which the director can do his best work, and with the best possible team working alongside him to make the film. Whenever we have tried to influence the original vision of a project, it’s had no effect whatsoever on the end result. Normally, what attracts me is the director’s personality, although obviously I do read the script and I need to like it. Generally speaking, I might make suggestions, but I like to think that it’s the director’s project and that they have a clearer vision for it than I do.
Will you be taking anything else to Cannes along with Las Furias?
In terms of marketing, I’ll have Las Furias up my sleeve, but my main reason for pitching at Producers on the Move is my new project, Sangre Razonable, because I’m hoping to find a Chinese partner. We’ve been working with a new director from Barcelona, Jorge Fontana. We met at a festival where he was presenting a short film and he started to tell me about his full-length feature, which stars an actor from Spain, two from America and one from China, which is why we need a Chinese partner. There are also some new co-production agreements in place between Spain and China, and it’s a very interesting market over there. Some of the scenes in that film will be shot in English. I’ll also have a few other projects in mind - films by José Skaf (Vulcania [+see also:
film profile]), Jorge Dorado (Mindscape [+see also:
interview: Jorge Dorado
film profile]) and Méndez Esparza.
A number of your previous films were co-productions with foreign companies...
Aquí y Allá was a co-production with the US, although it was filmed in Mexico. For Magical Girl we worked with Films Distribution in France. They were also our sales agent and it meant they had a stronger commitment to the film. It’s always an advantage to have outside partners, because you know they’ll bring something new to the process and they’ll get behind the film in their own country. We’ve never stayed entirely within Spain to produce a film – in fact, nobody in Spain bought Aquí y Allá and it won a lot of prizes and ended up being bought by ARTE instead.
How do you feel about government support for film producers in Spain?
I apply for it, but I haven’t received any. In fact, Las Furias, which has a fantastic cast and a very successful director with a background in theatre, didn’t receive any funding, even though we were already an experienced production company by that point. In the end the production was financed by private capital.
(Translated from Spanish)
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