LA Screening Independents hosted a panel of America’s top Latino producers who discussed the challenges of creating Latino projects from the heart of Hollywood.
Hosted by C21 Media, the panel began with Infinity Hill owner-manager Axel Koschewiecki, creator of the Oscar billboard “Argentina 1985,” pointing out the inconsistency of the Latino experience in the American entertainment world, an enduring mystery. Hispanics account for 19% of the US population, and they contribute an estimated $3.2 trillion to the economy, but their representation on television, live streaming, and theater ranges from 3% to 5%.
“We made a lot of money for a lot of people, but we didn’t get back the business that came with it,” Kushewatzki insisted.
Everyone agrees that Hollywood is going through a major change due to the writers’ strike and the restarting of streaming services, among other factors.
“The business is going through an existential crisis of sorts,” said Nandu Vila, executive producer at Exile Content Studios, adding: “It bothers a lot of people, which is understandable, but it’s a matter of research for us.” also opens up opportunities to do and find new models of content, funding, production and income”.
Augusto Ruvigno, senior vice president of content at new Spanish-language broadcaster VIX, said: “I think it’s pretty clear if it’s time to transition. From the beginning our mission has been to provide as much content as possible in Spanish. And we will continue to advance that mission.” Rovigno further stated that Viex has produced over 70 original shows and acquired hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of content, and plans to continue in this vein.
Apparently having launched less than a year ago, it’s still trying to catch up to its more established rivals.
He added: “We work with well-known content creators, but we’re also looking for new talent and giving them a chance to tell their own stories.”
And therein lies the challenge, how to sidestep the controversy with new original content that is fresh, relevant and not cut from the same mould.
“We must be clear about the audience we want. If we’re going to do something different, we must first decide who we’re talking to. That’s a mistake,” Ben O’Dell, co-founder, along with Eugenio Derbez of 3Pas Studios, the highest-grossing Spanish-language production company. Very common offense by producers, who often don’t know who their audience is. Its Apple TV+ series “Acapulco” has been renewed for a third season in the US so far with “no instructions included”.
Carla González Vargas, CEO of Gato Grande, an MGM label, said that budget constraints and the pressure to produce large amounts of material lead to vanilla material. He said that in Latin America, streaming services are so interested in wooing viewers that their executives are afraid to do things differently. “They want to play it safe, so they go as vanilla as possible,” he stresses.
In the United States we find another scenario. We’re finding opportunities for more serious storytelling, with Latino leads for different roles, but in English,” he said, citing the example of Netflix’s “Wednesday,” which stars a Latina actress and reached number one. .
Vila said that Exile Content’s project with ViX, “Amen,” was a risky project, but if done right, it could be amazing. “If we mess it up, it’s another problem. The portion is huge and it’s risky. It’s the opposite of vanilla. What flavor do we name it? Pistachio?” He thought.
“There’s so much we haven’t explored yet…we’re only just scratching the surface. I think a lot of good work has been done in recent years, but there’s still a long way to go,” Rovigno said.
The Los Angeles shows will run May 17-24. Los Angeles independent shows were held between 17 and 19 May. From May 20 to May 24, the studios present screenings of their latest offering.