HARLINGEN — They’re not trying to make a movie, they’re working to build an industry.
Scour Facebook and its easy to find dozens of groups and pages dedicated to filmmakers and creators in the Valley.
If it’s one thing the guys of El Valle Films and other local production companies know, it’s that there is a large film community in the area.
But they want to make it a business and to get there requires patience and a lot of leg work.
A NEW GOAL
According to Max Rojas from El Valle Films, the business of content creation has changed.
The goal used to revolve around getting a movie into a theater.
That was how filmmakers made money.
Despite popular perceptions, the filming of a movie accounts for a very small portion of the production process.
“For as difficult as it is, making the movie is the easiest part,” Rojas said.
The hard part was selling it.
Now, with various streaming platforms available, the goal has changed from the theater to straight-to-digital.
“We as content creators have a little more control and ability now,” Rojas said. “There is a whole different slew of possibilities and different plans due to digital distribution.”
Rojas and the team he works with could easily choose to move to a town with a knack for filmmaking, but to him, the Valley is the place to be with the energy and potential to grow.
“We have a lot of films that come out and come here, but we don’t have enough from here, by here that’s going out there,” Rojas said.
AN INDUSTRY VS A COMMUNITY
Bull Sanchez, who is a light technician, said a lot of the background work in moviemaking is blue-collar.
“It’s impossible to make a movie without collaboration,” Sanchez said. “They need a workforce to create the whole thing.”
Rojas said it takes a construction crew and electricians and skilled labor that most people forget about to put a movie together.
“Those jobs are important in film,” Rojas said.
A film industry involves a lot more than passionate people wanting to create a movie, it needs a lot of background work, Rojas said.
It involves skilled workers, insurance companies understanding film sets and lawyers trained in entertainment law.
Once Rojas almost had to stop production due to a faulty memory card specific to the camera he was using that wasn’t easily bought at a Wal-Mart or Best Buy.
All the necessities going into a production need to be outsourced to Austin or Los Angeles.
“One of the main goals was to go to Hollywood,” actor and executive producer Efrain Valdez said. “Our main goal is not to go to Hollywood. We’re going to create our own Hollywood.”
To build an industry involves partnerships and insight into the future.
El Valle Films recently moved to a new location with a warehouse to create an actors gym.
“It’s a long-term vision we have,” El Valle Founder Javier Gaona said.
Eventually the men wish to start creating a place where children can hone their acting skills and people can come and train how to use the necessary equipment to make a movie.
The men know it won’t be built over night.
The road to building their industry will take years and training.
“You have to build the skills here,” Gaona said. “We need that foundation. My vision at the end of the day once we grow here and we have that foundation is to be able to export that talent.”