Book Review: Nicolás Batlle’s "Producción de Largometrajes"

By Pablo Goldbarg

Latin American cinema is constantly evolving. International co-production, contests, labs, funds and government incentives are practically the only way to commercially release films. After their scripts have reached a solid version, new filmmakers are usually lost when it's time to approach the real world and look for producers willing to co-own the projects from beginning to end. The chances of getting funds without teaming up with a producer that has done it before are limited. That is, unless filmmakers also wear the producer's cape and sword to fight against windmills—as if directing actors weren’t enough.

Blogs, forums, classes, guidelines, and many other DIY resources for today’s no-excuses filmmaking are flooding the cyberspace. Much less is available in Spanish, especially about producing in Latin America. That's why Producción de largometrajes (Nicolás Batlle, 2016, Ediciones del CIC, 180p) has recently seen the light: to save new filmmakers from drowning in so much and yet so little information, and to understand how things are done step-by-step. The book is also a tool for students—in fact CIC (Centro de Investigación Cinematográfica) is an institution in Buenos Aires where the author teaches.

Batlle is a relatively young producer, but has produced movies for more than 15 years including The Boss, Anatomy of a Crime / El patrón, anatomía de un crimen (Sebastián Schindel, 2014, pictured below left). Wakolda (Lucía Puenzo, 2013, pictured above left), one of his last films, was the Argentine official entry for the 86th Oscars. Luis Puenzo, co-producer and an Oscar winner himself, proudly presented the book at BAFICI 18 saying that everybody working with him should read the book. New Latin American filmmakers should read it too, and pay close attention to the way films are done in the region and the challenges producers face until a film is released.

The book is not a typical filmmaking bible. It’s concise and to the point, covering all the film production stages. It's a practical guide that includes pitching recommendations, production design, budgeting, financing, legal aspects, post-production schemes, international distribution, lists of funds and online resources. There are no personal anecdotes or on-set experiences—Batlle recommends El cine y lo que queda de mí, by Hernán Musaluppi, for readers who are eager for a producer's diary.

"The more solid the foundation, the more solid a building will be," says Batlle. And that's precisely his intention publishing his first book. It’s a guide for seeing the big picture from the beginning to ensure that the project is logic and viable all the way through. This coherency is key—he assures in a conversation—to getting support and funds, whether a project is a horror film or a documentary, or whether the filmmaker aims for State funding or a Kickstarter campaign. Movies are made every day; producers sharing their knowledge in a book, not so often.