Sebastian Cordero, Arturo Yepez Set ‘Floresta’ as Touché Films Targets Premium TV (EXCLUSIVE)

John Hopewell

PAMPLONA, Spain  —  Ecuador’s Sebastián Cordero, director of the Guillermo del Toro-produced “Rage” and acclaimed low budget sci-fi thriller “Europa Report,” is teaming with his longtime producer Arturo Yépez to make “Floresta,” a 10 half-hour dramedy which marks Cordero’s move into TV series.

Told in the tone of tragicomedy, and inspired loosely by the back story of lead actor Andrés Crespo, star of “Cordero’s  “Pescador,” “Floresta” depicts the desperate attempt of Crespo, playing himself to a certain degree, to get back together with his family, both his new one with a foreign anthropologist girlfriend and an older one with his ex-wife and 20-year old daughter.

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But he constantly messes up in a series which depicts the uphill battle of a man to assume the responsibilities of fatherhood in a new more gender equal world.

Cordero is currently writing the series with Ecuadorian writers and will most probably look to bring in a Mexican script doctor, Yépez said.

Produced by Carnaval Cine, Yépez and Cordero’s label, and Touché Films, “Floresta” forms part of a first premium series slate from Quito-based Touché Films which Yépez, also Touché head of content development and chief operating officer from December, was introducing to potential co-production partners at last week’s Conecta Fiction.

Among Touché Films’ other new premium slate projects, mostly comedies aimed at a young adult audience, Yépez is also developing “The Clockwork Strawberry,” an adaptation by the creators of Enchufe.TV of a novel by Chilean-Ecuadorian writer Alexander Ribadeneira. It turns on Salomé, a pre-teen, fashionista and future beauty queen, president of her students’ school council, who hates soccer. Circumstances conspire to see her forced to create a soccer team at her school out of its supposed weirdos, learning in the process that appearances are not everything in life, plus a lesson in inclusiveness. “It’s like ‘Legally Blond’ in Latin American women’s high-school soccer,” Yépez said.

Also developed at Enchufe.TV, “Adultez en espera” is an ensemble comedy told in a sitcom style about a group of youngsters who suffer the disenchantment of adult life.

A fourth project, “Cuckos,” a colorful pre-school 2D animation series, follows a brave little girl who discovers that the Cuckos, monstrous creatures who eat children who are naughty, according to Latin American lore, are in reality lovable creatures capable of making dreams reality.

The four projects form part of a move by Ecuador’s Touche Films, owner of YouTube comedy sketch channel Enchufe.TV, to diversify from digital media publishing into the creation and production of premium content for global streaming platforms, while also continuing to produce branded entertainment.

The move is being put in place after 2btube, the leading digital market company in Spain, acquired a controlling stake in Touché Films in January 2019.

Moving into premium content production, Touché Films can look to leverage not only the backing of 2btube, but also the 20 million YA subscribers to Enchufe.TV and 32 million reach in social media, which makes Enchufe.TV the most subscribed sketch channel in Spanish and one of the top ten most subscribed digital channels in Latin America.

Based out of Ecuador, Enchufe.TV has nevertheless most subscribers in Mexico (6.2 million) followed by Colombia (2.8 million), Peru (2.3 million) and Ecuador (2.2 million). Yépez told Variety in Pamplona. Judged against the totality of Internet subscriptions, those figures give Enchufe.TV market shares of 7.3% of Mexico’s total 5 million Internet user base, 4.75% of that in Colombia, but a 12.9% share in Peru and a remarkable 16.6% of all internet users in Ecuador.

To date, Enchufe TV has registered  7.22 billion (sic) views from 299 comedy sketches, and 105 branded sketches, said Yépez.

“The advantage we have is a direct connection with a 13-18 year-old audience, which is highly connected and gives us immediate feedback,” Yépez said at Conecta Fiction.

Now drawing down development finance from a development fund, Touché Films is in conversations with established companies in the industry with the aim of  creating a production partnership which could open the door to streaming platforms, he added.

Projects series will use Enchufe.TV talent, including actors which have a large following, but opening up to famous actors over the whole of Latin America and including influencers in cameo roles, Yépez said.

Touché Films is now opening offices in Mexico. To encourage EnchufeTV’s subscriber fanbase to migrate to the streaming platforms, one idea which Touché Films has is to bow a series on YouTube, then continue it as a premium season on a platform.

Touché Films has produced a first feature film, “Dedicada a mi ex,” in co-production with Colombia’s Dynamo and to be released in movie theaters in Mexico and the U.S. by Sony Pictures on Nov. 1. It has also closed a soon-to-be-announced content deal with YouTube Originals.

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