For six years the Association of Spanish Advertising Producers (La Asociación de Productoras Publicitarias de España or APCP) has been hosting its Days of Advertising Film Production (Jornadas de Producción de Cine Publicitario), a conference bringing together the country’s top advertising minds to take stock and evaluate the state of play in the advertising industry from a craft perspective. This year was the second of these events to be held in Valladolid - a city in northwestern Spain with a - within the framework of the SEMINCI film festival there.
The first of 2018’s two Days of Advertising Film Production began behind closed doors, with the association assembling to discuss the most pressing issues for their sector and to appoint themselves a new president. The producers were then joined by senior agency creatives and clients in Valladolid’s domineering city hall for a congress organised by Spain’s Club of Creatives to explore new ways to deepen the relationships between creativity and business in Spain.
Guests next headed to another historic building. Surrounded by the 19th-century grandeur of the Circle of Recreation, a cocktail reception welcomed the APCP’s guests to Valladolid just a few days before the city’s International Film Week (SEMINCI) began. Here the new APCP president was revealed to be Albert Soler of Mamma Team Production.
The outgoing president, Manuel Garcia of The Brownie Film Co thanked the association for the four years he has been in the position and stressed that the key to doing things right is "to be self-critical." He reflected on the progress that had been made and camaraderie in the industry that had grown since he took up the role. He then gave way to his successor, who acknowledged Manuel’s achievements at the helm of the association: "They have been the four best years of the Association's history. I will try to take the legacy and continue on the right path,” he said.
Formalities wrapped up, guests headed to the main conference venue - the plush surroundings of Valladolid’s Teatro Zorrilla - where Little Black Book’s general manager for South America, South Africa and Southern Europe, Kate Jenner, framed the days’ discussion through the idea of communication and teamwork between all parties involved in bringing great communications to life. As someone who’s worked on the client, agency and production sides of the industry in her career, Kate stressed the power of dialogue between collaborators - a notion that reared its head as a strong theme throughout the conference.
The first in a series of panel sessions blasted the audience in the face with an impressive selection of clips from some of the most globally beloved TV and film titles in recent years - a showcase of international filmmaking that the panel of service production experts assembled had worked on in Spain over the last few years.
Chaired by Javier Angulo, director of SEMINCI, Peter Welter Soler (executive producer of Fresco Film), Yanira de Armas Tosco (supervisor of locations of Sur Film) and Denis Pedregosa (co-founder of Babieka Films) discussed topics such as the use of new technologies in filming (and the importance of them servicing an idea rather than the other way around), the power of film production to transform a location into an enticing tourist attraction and ways to measure and reduce the ecological footprint of a production.
Film production is a powerful force to improve lives in a shooting location, as Denis highlighted with a potent example: in Almeria, during the filming of Ridley Scott's Exodus, unemployment fell by 4%.
Peter conceded that Spain’s shooting incentives cannot compete with places like Hungary, Prague or London. "We cannot grow with the incentives we have,” he said. “They are insufficient in terms of percentage and limit.”
When asked which challenges are the most difficult to overcome for these productions, all of the panel agreed that accounting is key. "There are few good accountants who are recognized by large studios and financial controllers. In Spain there may be four or five. Without them, you are lost," commented Peter.
The second round table of the day was about the relationship between advertising agencies and producers on the international stage. Chad Muserlian (executive producer of The Brownie Film Co) interviewed Matt Miller (president and CEO of AICP, US) and Julien Pasquier (president of APFP, France). So how is that relationship status characterised these days? The answer: it’s complicated.
Matt laid out the fact that while agencies once related to production companies as their clients, now they are also collaborators and, with increasing frequency, competitors. Much of the discussion revolved around the conflict of interest that agency in-house production leads to and an update on how the US Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation into agency bid rigging
is affecting these conversations in the US, France and around the world.
The pair took the opportunity to stress the service that they believe agencies’ in-house offerings cannot provide - a place to develop and nurture directing talent.
Coming back to the themes Kate raised in her introduction speech, Julien proposed a talking cure to remedy this fractious relationship: "We have to try to put people together, to talk and explain how they can improve, through Masterclasses and training to share knowledge. We work more on the relations between the parties in production and in the future we can be a great family.”
Kate returned to the stage next to speak on a more general societal ill - the persistent issue of gender inequality and how it intersects with the advertising industry. Rather than outline the problems, Kate mentioned a number of interesting initiatives that are fighting for gender equality within the industry.
Firstly she highlighted the UK Advertising Association’s collaboration with NABS and WACL to create the TimeTo initiative. An effort to end sexual harassment in advertising through introducing a code of conduct for companies to adopt. She took a moment to show the initiative’s video manifesto.
Secondly, she introduced WAP - Women in Advertising Production - to any in the audience who didn’t know it. An informal network of women working in advertising production, it began in the UK six years ago now has groups of thousands of women in the UK, Spain and China. Through its safe Facebook-based community and events WAP is putting topics important to women in the sector on the table every day.
Kate next took a moment to acknowledge the APCP’s discussion at its assembly of the role that women have played in this industry and its aim to create a study that will survey women producers about their opinions on the wage gap, the treatment they have received due to their status as women, both in dealing with agencies and clients and in their day to day work in their office and on shoots. “We want to see if there really is a problem in our sector and if so be take sides in the matter,” she said.
The idea was proposed to include in the APCP’s AENOR seal a new obligation to include in all production documents a telephone number for victims of gender violence, which is 016 in Spain. “We would like the association to take a stand without fear in the fight against violence of genre,” she said.
Next she introduced a collective of influential female DOPs. Some of whom then took to the stage to showcase the top-class work they are doing.
Finally she gave a nod to a forum of female producers in Spanish cinema organized by the magazine El Caimán, taking place as part of SEMINCI - another promising development in promoting the visibility of women in the creative landscape.
There is much more to explore, Kate stressed. There are many initiatives and forums for women, all doing their bit, making women’s presence felt.
“Looking to the future we should value more the importance of women and working mothers in our industry and look for and find new ways to succeed like men,” she concluded. “As we say in WAP, ‘we are not men hating - we are just women loving!’”
The next slot was my own chance to face the crowd for an interview director Reynald Gresset. A commercial filmmaker with a remarkably international career, he started as a documentary maker - perhaps surprisingly considering the cinematic, often fantastical style of his advertising work. “When you are an advertising director you have to accept that you are going to work as a director 30 days a year,” he said. “The rest you spend in post production, writing, etc. Only 25% of the treatments that I write come out. In documentary everything depends on having a good eye, but in advertising you create everything."
Advertising direction "is a very capitalist job" he said. “If you have an artistic and naïve mentality, this is not a good sector for you". He also stressed that he has to dedicate himself to much more than only creativity. "I discovered that, as an advertising director, I am 50% director and 50% politician.”
Reynald love his work because "every time is an adventure." He brought his worldwide perspective to the stage, comparing the experience of directing in various markets: "In China, the agencies fight a lot with customers[…] German customers are very polite but they want everything very accurate before filming.” In Spain he said he prefers to shoot Madrid than in Barcelona because he feels the casting infrastructure is more suited to his approach there.
The director can’t commit to settling on his dream project, because for that he needs a great creative idea: "A five-line script can be incredible because you have the freedom to create what you want. If the idea is good, it is a gift. If it is not, you always have to fight to try to change it and create good results. I do not like simple things.”
To close the first day Teatro Zorilla, Maripaz Lara (founding partner of La Joya Producciones) chaired a panel comprised of Sergio López Ferrero (from McCann Worldgroup and EME chief production officer), Jesús Becedas , (coordinator of production for audiovisual & procurement at BBVA) and Verónica Seijas (associate director of Bendita Profesión). Their discussion centred around image rights in advertising and how the negotiations and relations between the different parties could be improved. The four speakers debated the problems around rights renewals for actors and actresses, renegotiations, image rights and digital advertising.
In the ever more complex thicket of image rights issues that the internet throws up, the feeling was that the industry needs to catch up and professionalise on this front. With social networks using and disseminating photographs with total freedom and the increasing use of influencer marketing, brands need to be absolutely clear about what rights they are purchasing and giving away. "If there is no professionalization, there continue to be problems,” stressed Sergio. He suggested that Spain might benefit from replicating a model for extensions and renewals similar to that of the US, based on a system of pre-agreements.
Verónica called for a "reordering of this digital monster" but defended the interests of the talent after some recounted anecdotes of models that asked for too much in renegotiations or that lied about having worked or not for a client’s competition.
After the day at the theatre, guests headed to the impressive Museo Patio Herreriano, for the first edition of the APCP Awards. Technicians that represent the values that the APCP defends and its AENOR accreditation - professionalism, quality, safety and legality. The best advertiser, agency and agency producer were also awarded for their projects and respect for production. At the end of the night, attendees who were not members of the association voted the best producer of the APCP.
Here the list of the winners of the different categories:
- Production Department:
- Department of
Locations: JAUME JORDANA.
- Runner: JORDI MOLLA
- Assistant Director: JUAN
- Casting Direction: ESTHER
- Direction of Photography:
ROMAN MARTINEZ DE BUJO
- Camera Department:
Electrical/ Machinists: PEDRO SANCHEZ.
- Art Direction: CESAR
- Stylist: ANA MORERA
- Makeup Artist: MANUELA
- Advertiser (Company): BBVA
- Agency (Company):RUSSIAN
- Agency Producer: MARILUZ
- APCP Producer: Manuel García
The second Day of Advertising Film Production began with more meeting of minds with a round table where the directors Gabe Ibáñez (Garlic and Apartment), Sega (Lee Films) and Sebastien Grousset (The Gang) met with the creative artists Marta Llucía (McCann) and Oriol Villar (founder of Oriol Villar), moderated by Mariluz Chamizo.
They started talking about how the process works when a creative receives a brief from their agency. The panellists noted that when they receive a briefing they not only look at the creative concept, but they look at many other aspects, especially if the relationship is honest. They highlighted the differences between a film director and an advertising director. A director is the brand in his or her own right, they noted. To conclude they ran with the idea that flowed through the whole event - that everyone must foster relationship and trust between different parties in order to achieve excellence.
The following table was directed by Úrsula García (ECD The Frank Barton Company) and Juan Solís, (Ilion Animation Studios and Dreamworks Animation). Together they explained the magical process of creating characters in the animation industry. They showed in depth this part of the work that is largely unknown and that takes great dedication and specialisation, combining technological savvy with traditional creativity.
Third, the Octocamvision team brought us the latest developments in the world of drones, explained the possibilities for advertising and the legislative framework to shoot with them.
Finally, and ending this edition of the Days of Advertising Film Production, a case study of the branded content ‘Lucha de Gigantes’ (‘Fight of Titans’) was presented - a project originally conceived by Emilio Aragón for the charity Acción contra el Hambre (Action Against Hunger). A properly transmedia idea that includes an album, concert, documentary, video clips and a mass communications campaign, it was a huge undertaking for all involved.
Something fundamental for a project like this to exist is that all the people who work in it do so for much more than their careers, the panel agreed. They screened many pieces of the project and closed with the documentary trailer that left everyone in the Teatro Zorrilla inspired and moved.
With inspiration resounding in the audience’s hearts, the APCP’s sixth conference drew to a close and, in the spirit of congress that defined the days, clients, agencies and production professionals all visited the beautiful Abadía Retuerta winery nearby, for a guided tour and a few delicious glasses of red wine. No doubt remained for anyone there. The Spanish advertising industry is intent on working through any challenges in the spirit of dialogue and collective pride felt in Valladolid.