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Production and Post: Why Mexico City Is the Next Los Angeles



Taylor James Mexico’s Violeta León, Angélica Martínez and Alberto Rentería on breaking away from old stigmas and leading the Mexican market in a creative revolution

Production and Post: Why Mexico City Is the Next Los Angeles
Mexico has a film production heritage that stretches back over a century. With its proximity to Hollywood, it has always been the leading production hub in Latin America and is the 12th largest market in terms of film production globally. Needless to say, the art, design and film heritage has inspired generations of great filmmakers and designers from within Mexico as well as attracted international brands, ad agencies and post production companies. However, there remains an assumption that international offices in Mexico are just low cost back-offices that are too expensive for local brands but more affordable options for people abroad, rather than the flourishing creative hubs that they truly are.

At Taylor James, their Mexico office works seamlessly with its international counterparts. When the company was bought by Tag in 2017, they took over the Smoke & Mirrors offices in Mexico City, and are now able to offer craft at scale for clients such as  Heineken. Whilst an office in Mexico does offer clients more competitive rates, the team emphasise the importance of experience and talent of their staff. Here, LBB speaks to head of operations, Violeta León; head of production, Angélica Martínez; and executive producer, Alberto Rentería, on breaking away from old stigmas, leading the Mexican market in a creative revolution and why commercial brands should see Mexico City as the next LA...

“Firstly, it’s a whole lot more than tequila, beaches and great food,” states Violeta León, head of operations at Taylor James, Mexico. “The great thing about Mexico is that we have those stunning natural landscapes such as the pyramids, but then just 15 minutes away you can get to huge skyscrapers for your backdrop. It’s a dynamic balance between nature and corporate, giving people in Mexico City lots of opportunities all in one place. It certainly brings a lot of richness to our culture and what we have to offer.”

With over 20 years in the industry, Vio has learnt her craft from many different points of view. Her background spans experience in both agencies and PR, as well as post production which she has been working in for the past nine years. Vio is yet another example of the unicorn talent that Taylor James are known for.

Speaking with Taylor James’ Mexican team, it is evident how passionate they are about sharing Mexico’s endless possibilities and potential for growth with the rest of the world, and the team here have been snowballing the creative production studio’s success since it took over Smoke & Mirrors. The team are instantly welcoming and willing to share their stories as well as their wealth of production expertise. “Mexicans treat everybody like close friends, even in professional situations. We are used to greeting everyone with a big hug and a kiss!” laughs head of production, Angélica Martínez. “It’s part of our Latin culture.”

“Visitors always note how incredibly friendly we are - we like to approach things with a smile on our face,” Violeta agrees. “There’s this misconception that Mexicans are lazy which is completely wrong. We don’t tend to put limits on our working hours - something that comes in useful when we’re collaborating with our London office - and we work and push ourselves incredibly hard. It’s a cultural thing.”

With this innate drive, the talent in Mexico has been pushing for positive changes within the production industry. Over the last decade, the way in which the Mexican office integrates with Taylor James across the globe has shifted dramatically, collaborating especially closely with the US office. Director of creative production, Mark Knowles, explains: “Taylor James invests a lot of time in sending the team back and forth to learn from each other. Our heads of department have spent a lot of time training and bringing the Mexico team up to speed to ensure that our workflows and processes are mirrored across the globe. This means that the Mexico team is benefiting from a wealth of technical, creative and workflow knowledge from our whole group which is accelerating their creativity and quality. We can offer our clients high quality creative production, live action, CGI and VFX at much more competitive market prices in Mexico but with the same great North American process that they are used to. This is not something any other post house in the local region can offer and it has only been strengthened by Covid and remote working.”

By using their regions as one global pool of resources, Taylor James are able to ensure that everyone is learning from one another and feel part of the same team as well as contribute the same level of high quality work. Angélica continues: “Historically, Mexico had been around ten years behind the leading cities as we didn’t have access to a lot of the resources that places like London and New York have. But this did grow a generation of talent who are extremely adept at finding creative solutions to any challenges, and we are armed with a box of tricks.”

Having studied communications, Angélica specialised in advertising and production and in the past, has worked for the likes of MPC. In April of this year, Angélica joined Taylor James, having been drawn to the company for her love of CGI and VFX. “In the past few years, we have really grown as professionals, we’ve strengthened our tools and we are now delivering a lot of CG work for the company,” she says.

Executive producer, Alberto Rentería, elaborates: “VFX artists in Mexico don't only specialise in one field - they are often multi-skilled. Being a part of Taylor James and running everything in-house means that we are now part of a revolution paving the way for Mexicans in this industry”

Alberto first found his passion for the industry in his school days. “I studied music composition and within that they teach you how to use audio sequencers and audio editors. It was then that I discovered that you can see sound represented as a waveform and that blew my mind.”  

He went on to become an audio editor, finding his first role by accident: “I was visiting the studio of some friends who are film and advertising directors and they were in the middle of a project but one of the editors hadn’t shown up. So I stepped up and they gave me the opportunity to take the position and that's how it all began.” Alberto went on to discover disciplines such as colour grading, sound design, post-production, CGI, VFX and video editing, for which he won awards in the local industry.

In Mexico, there is still a very traditional supply chain. “Post production only get their work from production companies and prod cos from agencies and agencies from brands. It’s very rare for anyone but agencies to go direct-to-brand,” Alberto says. “The industry in Mexico is a little stuck in old fashioned ways but to get ahead, you need to be fresh - and that’s what we’re doing with Taylor James.”

He continues: “For companies like us in Mexico who are connected internationally, local clients seem to think they will be too expensive. But international clients seem to think the work won't be of high quality. We want to show them that this perception is completely wrong. Mexican companies have much lower overheads compared to the US and the UK. So international clients who work with Mexican companies can benefit from very preferential exchange rates for work that is just as high quality as that of the leading markets.”

“What’s more,” says Vio, “Mexicans are finally realising that post production is part of the creative process. At Taylor James, our Mexican office is always part of the creative idea generation, rather than just an afterthought.”

When it comes to talent, there is still a battle to be won. “Kids still think they need to go to the US, Canada or UK to get into the industry,” Vio notes. “They don’t realise that they can now do this in their own country.”

“In the past, there haven’t been schools for post production here so most of the senior talent currently working have been self-taught or have shadowed others over a number of years,” Alberto states. “But now, we have some great high profile film and editing schools right here in Mexico. And luckily we are seeing more and more Hollywood directors, such as Alejandro González Iñárritu, helping to raise the profile of production in Mexico.”

There is clearly an exciting creative revolution taking place in Mexico right now. Global COO, George Rex, says: “There is a change coming in how the industry perceives the Mexican market and we at Taylor James are driving that change. We have and continue to only recruit the very best in all regions, which is why our clients trust us with their brand. Creativity is always first and foremost and with Angélica, Vio and Alberto leading a fantastically talented team, I believe the sky is the limit.”

With innovative companies like this at the forefront of bringing South America up north and driving this fast-growing market to its full potential, Mexico City should certainly be on all of our radars. 

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Taylor James, Mon, 11 Jan 2021 15:02:19 GMT