Few people actually know that my first project that I ever filmed was in high school and it was written in both Spanish and English. That first educational experience set the tone for all my productions going forward. I ended up actually filming a TV pilot called “Dive the Deep Blue”, in Mexico in 2005. I partnered with a local company that had all the necessary permits and clearances for filming. It was a great filming experience.

In 2014, MIP Cancun was announced at MIPCOM. I was very excited.  A TV pilot-turned-short I produced/directed, “Out of the Box”, toured the Spanish-speaking festivals (with subtitles) throughout Latin America and Spain. But, for the past 3 years, I haven’t had any good content for such a highly specialised market. Or so I thought! This last MIPCOM, I ran into a sales agent for a Mexican distributor who registered “record breaking sales” to Asia and surrounding countries. In that pivotal conversation, I realised as a producer it is my job to find and tell good stories, not only in my own native language and culture – but in other cultures as well.

This year I’m heading to MIP Cancun. I still have my ability to read Spanish, but my writing and speaking skills have diminished considerably. This is the Hispanic TV market. And I’m not Hispanic. So how am I going to overcome some obvious challenges in attending the market?  As a non-Hispanic producer, how would you overcome them?

1. Language

The programme specifically states which sessions are in English or in Spanish.  It clearly states no translation is available. So, between now and then, I’ll be brushing up on my Spanish. The MIP Cancun website does have the Spanish translation available. But, most of the Spanish-speaking delegates I’ve met at MIPCOM speak some English. We always end up communicating in some mix of Spanish/English.

2. Content

The market “is the industry’s first and only international content market exclusively focused on programming for the Latin America and US Hispanic television and digital media industry.” This is a very specific market, however, if my chance meeting in the Nice Airport after MIPCOM is any indication – there are global opportunities. Content is always king. I’m going armed with my best pitches for storylines that actually take place in Latin America.

3. Co-Productions

This year, there is a new addition: the Co-Production Matchmaking Market. Again, this whole industry is about building relationships. Having the opportunity to meet with potential partners in a face-to-face meeting, without having to travel around Central or South America, is a huge cost saving to the budget. Partnering with a local company is not only cost-effective, but in some instances may be mandated by government regulations.

4. Produce your Passion

Have you been to Mexico or Latin America yet? Now is your chance. From my days cave diving in the Mexican Cenotes, I have more passport stamps for Mexico than any other country. One thing I’ve learned from my limited time in Latin America, the people will share in your passion for storytelling. Sharing passion is the key to great storytelling.

5. Relax and have fun

It’s always hard for me to relax at these types of events. Mexico was the Country of Honour at MIPCOM in 2014.  I remember attending the Mexican pavilion and meeting some of the buyers and sales agents. I’m always nervous. However, the Mexican pavilion generated the same unhurried urgency I always felt when filming in Quintana Roo. “We have to get this done, but relax while doing it.”

I feel bad I’m missing MIPCOM this year. However, I’m really looking forward to MIP Cancun. Will I see you there?

Now open to producers, MIP Cancun takes place 15-17 November 2017, at the Moon Palace, Mexico. Save over $200 off the full rate if you register by July 25!

J.A. Steel ha dirigido los filmes independientes de “The Third Society/La tercera sociedad”, “Salvation/Salvación”, “Denizen/Habitante” y “Blood Fare/Tarifa sangrienta”. Ella es una de las pocas mujeres que han dirigido en filmes del género de Acción. Sus filmes han ganado numerosas premiaciones y se han distribuido mundialmente.

About Author

J.A Steel is an US-based producer, writer and director. She has produced/directed 4 feature films and 2 television pilots.

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