Conecta Fiction: Colombia’s Rhayuela Films Advances on ‘Casting,’ ‘Agencia de Detectives’ (EXCLUSIVE)

John Hopewell

PAMPLONA, Spain  —  Now in post-production on HBO Latin America’s action horror thriller “Mil Colmillos,” one of the biggest series the pay TV operator has made out of Latin America, Colombia’s Rhayuela is advancing on development of two new TV dramas:“Agencia de Detectives” and “Casting.”

Set in an unidentified Latin American country, and based on an original idea by Rhayuela founder and partner José Luis Rugeles, whose “Alias, María,” world premiered at the Cannes Festival’s Un Certain Regard in 2015, comedy series “Agencia de detectives” is set in a contemporary world, turning on “two gumshoes who get into all sorts of problems,” Rhayuela producer Federico Durán told Variety at Conecta Fiction.

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The series revisits the world of private eyes, film noir, but with a strong lacing of black comedy, he added. Regular is currently developing the series with co-screenwriter Alberto Quiroga. Rhayuela aims to structure the series as a co-production with Mexico.

A one-hour comedy series, “Casting” is created by Durán and Chile’s Andrés Waissbluth who, as a film director, broke through to attention with 2003’s “The Debutantes” and whose 2016 feature, “A Horse Called Elephant,” co-produced by Rhayuela, was an unusual play for family audiences, a demographic often overlooked by Latin American cinema. Packing what Durán called a “polemical element on the issue of #MeToo,” “Casting” has “large potential for international co-production, with Europe or even North America,” Durán said.

Rhayuela is advancing on a new feature from company founder, film director José Luis Rugeles, whose “Alias, María,” world premiered at the Cannes Festival’s Un Certain Regard in 2016.

Produced by Rhayuela and Argentina’s Sudestad Cine, and written with Argentina’s Martín Mauregui, the portrait of a musician on crack, confronting his demons as he sets out to create the record of his life, “Cuero Duro” won two prizes -for a score from Pablo Mondragón / Disruptiva and color correction from El Taller – at Guadalajara’s Co-production Meeting in March. Rhayuela is currently closing a co-production deal on the film, Rugeles said.

Rhayuela has begun to focus on new projects having concluded the development and shoot of “Mil Colmillos”

Created by Jaime Osorio and Guillermo Escalona, “Mil Colmillos” is an eight-hour “survival horror series,” said Durán, turning on an elite military squad that is dispatched to the jungles of Colombia supposedly to take out an aging guerrilla leader. It discovers something far bigger and much more evil.

Producing a second TV series, “Mateo y el tesoro sonoro,” a children’s mystery drama, for Colombia’s Canal 13, after “Mil Colmillos” Rhayuela is considering further diversification.

“The production of ‘Mil Colmillos’ was highly demanding, carrying it off a big challenge,” Durán said, “We now have a lot of companies phoning us, saying that they’d like is to work with us on their jungle scenes. So we’re thinking of setting up a services division at Rhayuela.”

That move may come as Colombia begins to feel the benefit of the extension of its extension of Colombian-location shoot incentives to include international television series, potentially shot by international streaming platforms with Colombian partners.

The cash rebate for movies largely attracted big U.S. movie productions and “Narcos,” “put Colombia on the radar,” Durán said.

“The TV incentives could well attract shoots of very different sizes, benefiting Colombian production houses which are not specialized in big shoots, which will help generate an industrial ecosystem of companies of far more diverse sizes,” he added.

For Durán, some of the winners could be, upstream, Colombian screenwriters and directors, and then Colombia’s VFX and post-production sector since big U.S. movies, logically enough. never carried out post-production in Colombia.

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