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Carlo D’Ursi • Producer

“I want culture to be a pivotal element on both a national and a European level”

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- Carlo D’Ursi, who heads up Potenza Producciones, has made a name for himself in Spain by producing films where collaborating with other countries’ film industries has been key

Carlo D’Ursi  • Producer

In early June, Carlo D’Ursi – Italian-born (in Bari, 39 years ago) but Spanish by adoption, and also an actor and short-film director – will bring out his latest production, Like Foam [+see also:
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, in Spain, in which he also plays one of the main characters. 2017 is turning out to be an exciting year for him, as he has also directed his second short film, Tabib, and he has been selected for Producers on the Move for his work helming Potenza Producciones, a Madrid-based company that has co-produced movies with Chile, Argentina and Germany (The Memory of Water [+see also:
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), Portugal (Gelo [+see also:
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]
 and Black Diamonds [+see also:
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), and even Mozambique (The Last Flight of the Flamingo [+see also:
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).

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Cineuropa: You have been working in Spain for the last 18 years. Is it a country that is receptive to foreign talents?
Carlo D’Ursi: I came here in 1998. In Madrid, I found a place that was perfect for me to grow both as a person and as a professional. Spain was a country that was really booming economically. I studied at the MEGA, which at the time was the only Master in Executive Film Production, and after that I did an internship at El Deseo. From there I moved on to Alta Films, and in 2004 I created Potenza Producciones. Spain welcomed me with open arms. Madrid is a diverse, multicultural city that is very much open to foreigners: I gradually discovered an uninhibited style of film that was progressive, ethical and kept an eye on social issues. Movies like BarrioStonesTake My Eyes [+see also:
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]
… And it was especially my experience at El Deseo that made me realise that this was the kind of cinema I wanted to make.

So what can Spanish film offer the rest of the world?
The productions range from arthouse films that garner success at international festivals (Óliver Laxe and Albert Serra, for instance), through more industrial productions like Almodóvar, Amenábar and Bayona, to thrillers – for example, I heard last week on Cinematografo, an Italian film programme, that they think of us as the masters of the genre. Spanish cinema can offer diversity, an analytical approach and a cross-sectional way of looking at today’s world, because we are both European and Latin American. Co-producing with Spain means gaining access to European and American funding, and reaching the Latin American market, which is constantly expanding.

How does a producer go about confronting the challenge of distribution windows, new technologies and all of these constant changes?
The changing business model is a unique opportunity to generate synergies between these new platforms and cinema, as it is understood in the classic sense of the word. Obviously, to attract viewers into the theatre, you need to offer them a different experience to what they would enjoy if they were to use another device, adding value and quality. The key is to take advantage of the new players’ entry in the global market so that we are better able to fund and distribute our films, without forgetting to protect culture as a crucial ingredient in global education and development.

In your day-to-day work, how important is it to secure support from national and international institutions?
Public backing is essential if you want to produce projects that intend to contribute more of an arthouse vision, without eschewing mainstream cinema. The positive effect of this is twofold: on the industrial level – as has been demonstrated by recent studies – for every euro invested in film, more than double this comes back to the state coffers in direct and indirect taxes; on the other hand, culture is a crucial element in enabling global development. Without it, you have intolerance, violence and discrimination. Fostering culture should be a top priority for the government, as there’s so much to be done, and in my work I strive for it to become a pivotal element on both a national and a European level.

What projects are you taking with you to Cannes?
Jefe, a black comedy that combines elements of The Boss of it All [+see also:
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 and Toni Erdmann [+see also:
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]
. It will be directed by Sergio Barrejón, who was Oscar-nominated for the screenplay of the short film One Too Many and for a Goya for directing the short The One in Charge, and it will star Javier Gutiérrez, winner of the Silver Shell for Best Actor at San Sebastián for Marshland [+see also:
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]
. In addition, we have two more comedies in development and a thriller series. I hope to create a network with my colleagues, which could prove useful when it comes to co-producing future projects.

You have co-produced with countries in Africa, Europe and America... Is foreign collaboration one of the key pillars of funding?
Co-producing has two essential elements: artistic/cultural cooperation and then the financial side. Co-producing also implies the free movement of talent on an international level, gives you the possibility to exponentially increase the number of countries where the film will be distributed and fosters the creation of multinational cultural identities, which entail integration and cooperation – and all of this contributes to creating a different and more peaceful world.

(Translated from Spanish)

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