Alejandro Toro studied Finance and International Relations and worked in the pharmaceutical industry. But seven years ago, a proposal from Caracol Televisión transformed his career, and he began selling content in markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Today, Alejandro Toro is Caracol Televisión’s co-productions director.
“We used to just invest in Colombian films as investors, but in 2014 we decided to begin making movies with local production companies. We produce six to eight each year,” says Toro, who explains that the films are one hundred percent financed by Caracol and are co-developed with the production companies beginning with the script. With Dynamo, for example, to date they have made two films, La rectora and Detective Marañón, set to be released in theaters on November 26. With Laberinto, they have produced El cartel de la papa and Antes del fuego (Before the Fires), a story based on the siege of the Colombian Supreme Court building. They have already selected eight productions for 2016, including El Coco, by Dago García Producciones.
“Our efforts in film are focused on movies with limited budgets. This is a business model that minimizes the risk of making movies in a country where 40 films are produced every year. The idea is release them in theaters and, 90 to 120 days after their premiere, they go directly to TV screens with Caracol. We also work on international distribution of these films,” he adds.
Yet Toro’s work encompasses much more. Caracol Televisión is working on international co-productions and is benefiting from Law 1556 of 2012. It is currently shooting Love & Coffee, as part of an agreement to co-produce three films a year in Colombia with U.S.-based Marvista Entertainment and Argentinian company Snap TV. These English-language films, produced from scratch by the three companies, feature scripts by American professionals and will be distributed internationally, especially via new platforms and on television. “They have the option of being released in theaters, but it isn’t an obligation,” says Toro.
The third area they have entered recently is production services, for which Toro says there is a high demand. “There isn’t enough talent to meet the demand. We’re training these people, not just us, but also the production companies. We need support in training them. There are many positions where, for example, people need to speak English.”
Toro believes there are still important challenges to be faced: “It is now easier and cheaper to produce here, but demand is greater than supply. Dynamo, for example, brings people from outside the country and that means it can’t take full advantage of the law. Likewise, demand has caused the prices charged by Colombian talents to rise dramatically.”
For Toro, what comes next are “opportunities.” “Without laws 814 and 1556, the industry wouldn’t exist. These laws are essential.”