David Canelo PRODUCER INDOMABLE PICTURES
David is a very motivated and hard-working individual with over 10 years of production management and executive production experience. Always ready for challenges and opportunities. David understands that film is a business, yet his strong story sense and visual style shine through his work.
On the strength of that experience, He has worked in prestigious international productions such as ZULO by C. Martin Ferrera, THE PERFECT STRANGER by Toni Bestard, starring Irish actor Colm Meaney and Goya Award winners Ana Wagener and Carlos Santos, JACK TO A KING, documentary for theatrical release directed by Mark Evans and produced by James Marsh, Oscar winner for best documentary in 2008 for MAN ON WIRE; and GIPSY KING, directed by multi-award winning Basque director Juanma Bajo Ulloa.
His most recent work as a producer highlights THE PACK (LA JAURÍA), starring Liah O’Prey (MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, BLACK SNOW, YOUNG ONES), and Adam Quintero (OPEN WINDOWS, THE GIRL FROM THE SONG). He continues developing a slate of projects for domestic and international markets.
Why Inside Pictures (IP)?
There are other European workshops similar to IP that tend to focus on the producing part of filmmaking. I chose INSIDE PICTURES because you can gain a 360º exposure in all different aspects of the filmmaking business: financing, legal, marketing, distribution and exhibition, and in my view, this approach is unique. I feel very fortunate to join the outstanding 2020 cohort. On IP, you get to learn alongside people from different countries with a lot of experience and different backgrounds. Also, on IP, you get see the industry from an international perspective beyond Europe, especially the US market.
How have you found doing IP online during a pandemic?
I used to think you needed physical contact to get the best out of meetings and workshops. But after the first IP module, I think Zoom and online meetings are really effective. It’s similar to real life meetings, not the same, but it’s been great so far.
Why it is important for you to combine film as a business with a strong story sense/visual style in the finished work?
I always wanted to be a producer, but not just an accountant, or the person trying to get the finance. I wanted to be both a creative producer and boots-on-the ground for the project, working closely with the director and scriptwriter from the very beginning, from the first idea of the film. I like to be involved in the development phase – talk to writers, directors, trying to collaborate in the development stage, meet with cinematographers, production designers and so on. When you create something from scratch, with your collaborators, you’re, in some way, part of the film too.
Spanish genre films seem to find wider audiences than dramas.
In Spain, we don’t have many big-name actors. Mario Casas is one of Spain’s top actors and that’s probably it. Well, we have Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz but they are on a different league. If you want to sell your Spanish language film internationally, you need to find a way. We have an audience in the Spanish speaking parts of the world, but if you have a genre film, you can reach an even wider audience, the language is less important. It´s based on your concept, you don´t need very well-known actors. That’s why, in my opinion, in Spain, a lot of filmmakers are making genre films. And they do it really well. You have Jaume Balagueró who created the REC franchise. Álex de la Iglesia who did THE BAR (2017), and many more. Filmax created long time ago The Fantastic Factory and now Alex de la Iglesia, Sony and Amazon have set up The Fear Collection to produce two Spanish horror films per year.
For our film, THE PACK (aka LA JAURIA), we set out to do something low budget that we might independently raise all the finance. At the time we conceived it, we were stalled in the advanced stages of development on a three to five million euros film. We asked ourselves, what can we do for half a million euros? We scouted locations in the mountains, on the edges of Barcelona, and came up with a concept that we thought would be interesting. It worked around four guys, in a car, in a forest. They don’t know each other and they don’t remember how they got there. It is similar to SAW. And like SAW, it is contained, and somehow inexpensive to shoot.
As a result of working with the production designer and DoP from the start, taking them to location scouting, for example, we were able to create a unique visual universe. We were really clear about the visuals, how to use the forest, the colours of nature… even the car was specially chosen… We spent three months looking for the car we used in THE PACK – we thought of it as a character too.
Streamers are having a positive impact, raising the profile of Spanish genre films.
Traditionally, when you make a film in Spain, your aim was to reach the maximum number of well-known film festivals to be recognised, to get word of mouth so the film can get more international sales and reach a wider audience. It´s also important to help build a good reputation as a filmmaker to be able to make your next film.
The streamers are changing this formula. I think that’s the main reason why a lot of first-time feature directors, like Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia (THE PLATFORM), can benefit from Netflix attention. The film didn’t perform well in Spanish cinemas, but because of Netflix, it became a very popular film across the world – top ten in the USA and UK during 2020. Same with Errementari (2017) on Netflix too. This was co-produced by Álex de la Iglesia and is Paul Urkijo Alijo’s (director) first feature film.
The down side is that you don’t keep the IP depending on whether the film is fully financed by a Streamer. You only get your fee, you´re a producer for hire, but again, if the only way to make the film means produce it with a global streamer, we have no choice. Then the upside is that more people get a chance to see your film, and that will put you on a different position for your next film.
What’s been the greatest impact on you/your company from COVID?
Our latest film, THE PACK played at Sitges Film Festival 2019. More recently, at Fantaspoa Film Festival in August 2020. We had a lot of invites to different festivals, but because of COVID, almost all of them were cancelled or postponed. Our strategic planning changed dramatically. We hope to release it, internationally, in the first quarter of 2021 next year. The only issue is that from now on, it will make no sense for these small low budget films to think of a theatrical release.
A good thing to come out of COVID is Zoom meetings with people you would only get a chance to meet at international festivals/markets. More and more people, across the industry, are open to online meetings and I think that’s really positive. At Cannes, a couple of years ago, we had lots of meetings scheduled: some got cancelled at the very last minute; some were meant to be 30 minutes, but they started late and it was a hurried 10 minutes. For online meetings, you might get one hour with no interruption – the efficiency of meetings online is amazing.
What lasting effects of COVID might lead to change in your own medium/long term visions and aims?
We are probably going to work more with streamers. Netflix, HBO, Disney and Amazon are setting up production bases in Madrid, Spain. They need to spend a certain amount per annum on local productions and I think they are more open to talk to producers with limited experience. This should hopefully provide more opportunities for independent producers. The pandemic has, in my view, accelerated this change in emphasis. For a lot of independent films, it makes no sense to go for theatrical release. With the presence of the streamers, you have more opportunities. It’s not going to be easy, but if you have the right project, the finance process is going to be faster than the usual process of approaching the competitive regional and national funding bodies and TV for support.
Simultaneously, because of COVID, especially in Spain, the government will not have as much money to allocate for film support. I think for independent producers, it is also going to be challenging in the medium term to get money for development and production.
What’s the most innovative change you’ve seen in the film industry in response to COVID?
I think the closing of release window for cinemas, especially in Europe. For example, THE PLATFORM ran in Spanish theatres for few weeks; then went Netflix worldwide. That’s a huge difference in how films used to be released. I think this is for the better because streamers have a key role in independent films, especially in Europe, owing to US blockbusters dominate the theatrical space.
Cinema in Spain, is not working as well as it once did, except maybe Spanish comedies. Ironically, people outside of Spain, love Spanish cinema, but in Spain, a Spanish film is often seen as low quality, or cheap when compared to a blockbuster.
How well is/has your government serving the film industry during COVID?
They presented together with Netflix some financial support for technical and artistic audio-visual professionals. The ICAA (Spanish Ministry of Culture) increased the support for cinema exhibition and is releasing a campaign to motivate the return of viewers to cinemas. They are doing all they can in this pandemic era. Spain is one of the most affected countries in the world.
It´s important to add that, after years of discussions, the Spanish government finally increased the tax rebate. It used to be 25% of the first million euros, with a cap of three million euros. Now, it’s 30% of the first three million euros spent in Spain. Plus, up to ten million euros you can get 25%. In the Canary Islands, it is 50% in the first million and 45% for the remaining amount. This increase in tax incentives makes Spain one of the most attractive places to shoot in the world.
What’s been your lockdown film/tv discovery?
I watched THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG. The performances, visuals and the photography are amazing. Also CALM WITH HORSES, the Irish film (co-produced by IP’s Kate Glover). An amazing film! Really unique.