An ambitious scheme to make the Mexican region of Jalisco the production capital of Latin America, a Jallywood so to speak, has launched with the introduction of a new state film law.
“We want to send a clear message that with or without federal help or despite the federal government, we pledge to direct more resources towards the state’s audiovisual industry,” declared Jalisco governor Ernesto Alfaro at a press conference in late October. Alfaro lamented the government’s severe cuts to federal funds supporting a range of industries, including Mexico’s audiovisual sector. “If there was corruption, then clean it up, penalize, but don’t sweep it all away,” he asserted.
Among the law’s myriad objectives is the introduction of financial and fiscal incentives to foster investment in audiovisual projects in Jalisco.
According to Jalisco film commissioner Rodolfo Guzman, the region aims to push Congress to revisit a shelved plan to introduce federal tax incentives next year. “Ideally, we want all of Mexico’s states to benefit from nationwide film incentives,” he said.
Given the current austerity measures of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government, they face an uphill battle. Meanwhile, Jalisco will be exploring the introduction of state fiscal incentives in case Mexico City does not.
“The key is to get a tax rebate, ultimately, in order to really establish a film industry for the long haul,” said L.A.-based producer Steven P. Wegner (“Blade Runner 2049,” “The Blind Side”) who is developing some bi-lingual projects to be shot in Jalisco.
Wegner is part of an advisory committee aimed at fine tuning the draft law. Other committee members include “The 33” director Patricia Riggen, actress-producer Kate del Castillo, Cinepolis production head Enrique Latapi and director-producer Fernando Lebrija, among others.
Other objectives of the film law, encompassed by the new Filma en Jalisco brand, include regulating the planning, development and promotion of all audiovisual projects, establishing film archives, streamlining red tape and improving coordination among federal, state and municipal authorities with social and business organizations, academic institutions and research centers.
The region has become an important hub for technology firms, as well as film, video games, VFX, television and animation, Guzman pointed out. Guadalajara is where its most famous son, Guillermo del Toro, has set up a stop-motion animation studio, El Taller de Chucho, in association with the University of Guadalajara.
As part of its support for Jalisco talent, the Jalisco Film Commission has introduced an inaugural call for local scripts, to which four screenplays were selected and awarded $100,000 pesos ($4,792.) each. The winners of this new initiative will be announced at the Guadalajara Int’l Film Festival’s annual Los Angeles event, FICG in LA, in December.
Alfaro pointed out that since the Film Commission was launched in 2014, the number of projects filmed in the region grew from six projects that year to 110 productions, generating revenue of some 100 million pesos ($4.79 million) in 2019.
“What differentiates us from other film commissions is that we enter as co-producers in some projects, investing up to a maximum of $250,000 in each,” said Guzman who lists some 33 projects they have backed since 2014, including Carlos Saura’s “El Rey de Todo el Mundo” and Brazil’s “El Peluquero Romantico.”
Principal photography of Apple TV and Fremantle’s series “The Mosquito Coast,” starring Justin Theroux, begun in October and will continue until December in Jalisco capital Guadalajara as well as the towns of Zapopan and Puerto Vallarta. “It’s the biggest production to have ever shot here,” said Guzman, who’s hoping that the upcoming incentives will lure more film and TV productions to the state.