The Spanish producer, responsible for almost 100 feature films, including multiple Goya award winners, shared his thoughts on the debt producers -and other members of the sector- have towards the audiovisual industry, as well as the present and future of Spanish and Latin American cinema.
One of the most important producers of Spanish cinema, Eduardo Campoy, responsible for films such asLa niña de tus ojos, El mejor verano de mi vida and Hasta que la boda nos separe, will receive the Gold Medal of the Forqué Awards on December.
The ceremony, organized by Egeda and which will take place at the Municipal Palace of Ifema Madrid, will celebrate Campoy’s career, who today is part of Secuoya Group.
With nearly 100 feature films -and another number of shorts and series-, the producer born in Valencia (1955) has been a key figure in the path taken by Spanish cinema for more than four decades, with an active participation with his films -he has 92 Goya Award nominations- as well as his work in different associations, from where he has sought to give back part of what the audiovisual sector has given him.
“The association wanted to recognize not only the figure of Eduardo Campoy, his filmography as a producer and his passion for cinema and audiovisuals as a whole, but also the intense fight carried out for many years in favor of audiovisual producers and the development of our audiovisual,” explained Enrique Cerezo, president of Egeda. “The figure of the producer enjoys great prestige today thanks to Eduardo Campoy who, among others, has known how to promote, prestige and defend the figure of the producer, which is essential and indispensable in the development of the industry.”
What is your opinion on Cerezo’s words about what this award means? How do you value this other role as a member of Egeda and other associations?
All members of the audiovisual sector, not just producers, should dedicate a few years of their lives to working for the collective. Be they actors, scriptwriters, directors or producers. I have dedicated a lot of time, as Enrique (Cerezo) said, to working for the group. It gives you a different vision than when you only look for the interests of your own production company, which is the most legitimate. When you take the leap to represent the rest of the group, you begin to look for the common good and, in the long run, you realize that all the benefits common to your sector will revert to your personal benefit. But you have to be generous enough to give back, in the form of work, what this profession has given you. You have to dedicate five, seven or twelve years, which in a 40-year career is not enough time, to work for the group that represents you. In those positions you immediately understand that the collective good is going to help you in the long run.
Enrique has seen, throughout our history given that we have coincided during these 40 years, that I have dedicated a lot of time to that collective good. I have been a member of the Board of Directors of the academy, of Anepa, of Aecine, advisor of ICEX… I have dedicated a lot of time to working for the good of the sector. That is why many people who do not dedicate a day to working for the collective good are now greatly missed.
Does Egeda have to promote that function?
Egeda is a bit like producers’ conscience. They are all here: the small producer who has made a short film, the majors and the television stations. All those who have audiovisual rights are incorporated into Egeda and this is what makes it a global vision. I believe that producers have to work through associations. Unfortunately, once Fapae disappeared, they divided into associations that have lost political strength, but their members must continue trying to achieve the same objectives as when there was a strong Fapae.
You’ve done very close to 100 feature films. Do you sit back and realize this accomplishment from time to time, or are you always looking forward?
Honestly, I hadn’t counted how many feature films I had made until I got the award. I had to look back to see when the first one was and seeing what production companies I have worked with. I am quite visceral in looking only towards the future, what I have left to finish this year or what I am going to do next year. I looked back when they told me that I had been producing for more than 40 years and my feeling is that it has been much longer. Before making Copia Cero in 1982, I had already been working as a film technician for ten years; I had made films as an assistant director, had worked with directors like Mariano Ozores, Javier Aguirre and Eugenio Martín, on their own films, when I finally took the plunge to produce my first film. I made that decision, within what was Cinema de Callejón, to produce short films for third parties: I produced about eighty or so short films, of which I had directed 16. There are many. The motivation to produce was already inside me. Once I hit the ground running with Copia cero to produce a feature film, the doors opened to start producing films.
Is there something romantic about everything that went into producing at that time?
The thing is that I continue to do exactly the same as when I produced the first films: I continue to be at the director’s side, in the preparation, in the filming, in the selection of the technicians, the actors, in the final cut, in the post-production. I am the shadow of the director throughout the entire process. I don’t get involved in their work, but the same thing happened to me in those first films with Agustín Díaz Yanes until the last ones with Dani de la Orden. Another thing is how movies are made, that has changed a lot. And that has changed the way of working. The way of financing is practically the same, with other players in the market, but the way of filming has changed a lot.
Has what motivates you to take on a project changed over the years?
It remains practically the same. I can give you two examples. La niña de tus ojos was born from me buying an idea from two guys who today are two well-known screenwriters. From there we started looking for a director: Fernando Trueba was not the first one we offered it to, he was the third. Today when I look for an idea, the exact same thing happens to me. When I did El mejor verano de mi vida, it was the Antena 3 delegate, Silvio González, who told me about the Italian film Sole a catinelle, and when I saw it it seemed like nonsense to me. We bought the rights, we looked for a director, we chose Dani de la Orden, and we looked for scriptwriters, we worked on it, it came to fruition and it was a box office success. The processes are similar, they do not change from one era to another. Nor are the motivations: trying to find a film that works industrially.
You recently spoke about post-pandemic life for Spanish audiovisual. You said that the public has “become accustomed to watching Spanish cinema at home.” Can you elaborate on this?
I think the pandemic has brought us one good thing and one bad thing. The good thing is that the street public finally understood that to watch the TV they like they had to pay for it. Today I doubt that there is any home in Spain that does not pay for some platform to watch television. This has meant that the platforms have grown exponentially, but it has been lost that the people who watch those series, with the same actors and directors, go to the movies to see those stories. It has weakened the middle class of Spanish cinema. People have decided to go out to see it in theaters, with what it entails in expenses, when it is an event: a highly awarded film, like As Bestas, or family films. Family cinema continues to work because children have to be taken out of the house. Spanish cinema is the main one affected by the figures we are having.
Do you think this will be the new normal from now on or is it a phase?
There may be an evolution. I think that series, with so many platforms, can end up saturating. Now we are in the boom, but if it does not go down it will be a long-term boom, but if it goes down, maybe it will be a bubble and things will return to their normal course. We have to wait and let time give the operating guidelines.
Why does Spain have such an important differences in terms of aids (incentives), compared to other European countries?
The current aid system was created so that there would be double the budget allocation, but with the current allocation the system is unsustainable, it does not work anywhere. You have to change it. I think that most of us producers totally agree that it must be changed and that without the appropriate budget allocation this system is a failure. This has led to films being made much more tailored, without sufficient promotion so that the public can go see them. It is the fish that bites its tail: the public does not go and the distributors bet less. That is bad for Spanish and Latin American cinema and for our windows. I have always blamed the legislators, who must legislate for the majority, must seek the majority interest and the common interest. That’s where we should focus, on that gap.
What is your vision of the rise of international co-productions?
It is a sustainable, positive model that now includes series. It is a path that unites Latin America and Spain much more. Unfortunately co-productions in cinema, like Latin American cinema is not working in Spain because Spanish does not work either, we have an exhibition problem. It works on platforms, but not in theaters. Distributors are not going to bet on Latin American cinema in conjunction with Spanish.