MONTREAL, Quebec -- Henrique Vera-Villanueva, president and CEO of three-year old H2V Entertainment in Montreal, Quebec, told Filmmakers.com they are the “new kid on the block” in terms of film production companies in Canada. But to listen to Vera-Villanueva talk about the plans he has for H2V, it sounds like they are poised to become a major player in the Canadian and international film production industries, one that screenwriters should keep on their radars if they tend to write artistically commercial, as opposed to formulaic, commercial material.
H2V Entertainment was started by Henrique Vera-Villanueva, José Antonio Ríos and José Luis Gil. Vera-Villanueva is the producer, director, president and CEO of the company and has a background in technology and media sectors, telecommunications and the entertainment industry. Ríos, non-executive Chairman of the Board, is currently the president of Global Crossing International, Global Marine and CAO of Global Crossing. Previously, he was president and CEO of Spanish telecom giant Telefónica Media and Chairman of Atento and former president and founder of DirectTV Latin America. H2V co-founder José Luis Gil serves as president of International Operations and Corporate Communications. Mr. Gil was the former president and CEO of Hispavox, Spain, and CCO of Lideres Entertainment Group. He has also been the manager for many renowned Hispanic and Brazilian artists.
The three principals have a total of 90 years experience in the industry.
In addition to live action feature films, H2V places a heavy emphasis on animation features.
The company is scheduled to complete post-production in March 2004 on three feature animated films, “Manga Latina: Killer On the Loose”, “Monica Made in America” and “Piñatas”. With a staff of 250 animators and a management team of 15, H2V operates studios in Montreal/ Canada and Castellón/ Spain, and also maintains strategic alliances with foreign studios.
One of H2V’s greatest strengths are these networks of international alliances. In the last 12 months, the company has signed alliances and output deals for distribution with Indigo Films (UK), Buena Vista International (Spain and Portugal), APTN Networks (Canada), as well as a pact with the CGC Cisneros Group of Companies for Hispanic USA and Latin America. In addition, the company has signed a series of strategic alliances with companies such as AP Comics (UK), Treehouse Productions (UK) and MCM Animation (Colombia), among others.
Asked where H2V gets its material from, Vera-Villanueva told Filmmakers most of their projects to-date have been created in-house. What about screenwriters who are looking for viable markets in Canada and the United States? Is H2V going to be an organization they should consider a new market for their work?
“This is where it gets interesting,” Vera-Villanueva told Filmmakers. “This year we are going to start requesting material to take to production. We can arrange financing for projects because we have a network of partners in the U.K., Spain, France and Canada. In terms of what we are looking for, we are open to everything as long as there is a compelling element we haven’t seen before.”
That’s a pretty broad definition. Asked to clarify what kind of projects H2V is particularly interested in, Vera-Villanueva said the bottom line is that they are looking for material that is special and unique. “You only live once and we love to take risks!”
What about the Canadian presence? Most screenwriters know that most of the creative deals happen in L.A and New York. Although a lot of production goes on in Canada, most of that happens in Toronto, some of it in Vancouver. But Vera-Villanueva says being in Montreal in no way is a disadvantage to H2V in terms of accessibility or strategic planning and marketing of new projects.
He reiterated that H2V is truly an international organization and that their location should not be a factor to writers with good, original material who want to do business with them. “We put the emphasis on the project,” Vera-Villanueva notes. “We don’t care where it’s coming from. Wherever the origins are located, if the project and talent are good, we will make them our own.”
Already, H2V is establishing itself as an aggressive, productive film organization just based on what it has on its books this year. “As far as I know, we are the only company in the history of Canada that is going to finish, produce and premier three animated feature films with theatrical print and at the same time, being in production of four features scheduled for next year.”
Vera-Villanueva says he has no reservations about working with first-time writers, that they are as interested in neophytes as they are in experienced screenwriters with a track record. The only criterion is that they bring something “unique and special” to the table.
Asked if H2V is looking for art or commercial material, he said “We are looking for commercial with soul.” Although it is an advantage for H2V to work with Canadians because of the generous tax breaks and grants that are available in this country to Canadians, Vera-Villanueva notes that, because of his company’s strong, international network, this is not a major issue when it comes to deciding who they are going to work with and what kind of material they develop. “We prefer 50-50 (Canadian and non-Canadian talent) for different reasons but it’s not a big factor for us. If the project is good, we are interested in it.”
Sounds like only a matter of time before H2V takes a big leap on to the Canadian and global prosceniums of film production companies. For inquiries about H2V or information about how to submit material, contact: Kathryn Klassen, Vice President Creative Affairs & Development (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), Carolina Ramírez-Taborda, Executive Manager, Corporate Affairs & Media Canada (e-mail: email@example.com) and Marisabel Ríos, Corporate Advisor, USA (e-mail: MariaIRios@aol.com ).
Jeff Freedman has been writing about film and the arts for over 21 years (http://www.jeffreymichaelfreedman.com). He has written several feature screenplays as well as documentary scripts for The Discovery Channel. In addition to Filmmakers.com, Jeff has contributed to The Hollywood Scriptwriter, Studio Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Business Week, The New York Observer, The Washington Times and several others. His principle residences are in Toronto and Los Angeles. firstname.lastname@example.org
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