South America’s economic crisis, aggravated by the pandemic, has spawned an unorthodox crowd-funded Argentine-Uruguayan film project, “La Uruguaya” (“The Woman from Uruguay”), which is set to start shooting in the Fall.
Project leader-author Hernan Casciari has modeled the financing strategy on his own publishing house Editorial Orsai, which depends on readers to fund the publishing of its books and house magazine. In just two months, Casciari managed to enlist 2,000 people to invest in the dramedy.
Each one of the investors, who contributed a minimum of $100 – one is said to have invested as much as $20,000 – receive an equity share in the film as well as an associate producer credit.
But these are not passive investors, according to one of its producers, former Telefonica Studios production head Javier Beltramino (“Neruda”), who admits he was skeptical about the scheme at first. “They actively participate in the production through an app created especially for the project – albeit through non-binding votes – making it a unique and very promising project given the quality of the book, the script and the director,” he noted.
A weekly podcast with the participation of the crew, zoom sessions and live chat streams with staff members also helps keep everyone in the loop, making sure the process is a learning experience as well as, hopefully, a sound investment.
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With Argentina’s INCAA film fund depleted by the lack of box office receipts that have traditionally fed it, this seems to be a viable and innovative financing strategy, Beltramino pointed out.
Ana Garcia Blaya – whose portrait of a dysfunctional father-daughter relationship in her directorial debut, “The Good Intentions,” earned several Argentine Academy Condor Plata awards among other plaudits – is attached to direct “La Uruguaya.”
Uruguayan DP Cesar Charlone, who has collaborated with Fernando Meirelles on “The Two Popes,” “City of God” and “The Constant Gardener,” among many others, has signed on as cinematographer.
Joaquín Marqués (“The Good Intentions”) and Gabriel Grosvald (“Ezequiel Campa: En Vivo y en la Hierba”) also serve as producers while Orsai Publishing co-founder Christian Basilis serves as script head.
Based on the acclaimed novel by Pedro Mairal, which has been published in various languages by prominent publishing houses, “La Uruguaya” turns on a writer who pins his hopes on a free-spirited 25-year-old he meets up with in Montevideo to get him through
his midlife crisis, aggravated by a crumbling marriage and barely-making-it career. But his day out with her turns out to be the most unexpected and transformative day of his life.
An open casting call has yielded 10 finalists each for the male and female parts. The location shoots in Montevideo and Buenos Aires are slated to kick off in October.