“Can a film serve to create new benchmarks?”
Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...
Clara Nieto • Producer, Powehi Films
The Spanish producer juggles work on series and films through her job at Warner España and as the director of her own outfit, where she is forever in search of new narratives
In the iconic surroundings of the cafeteria of the Pavón Theatre in Madrid, we met up with Clara Nieto, the Spanish representative who is taking part in the 2021 edition of EFP’s Producers on the Move initiative and who heads up her company Powehi Films while simultaneously serving as head of business and production in the fiction department of Warner Bros Entertainment España. We talked about her past works and also looked to both the near future and the more distant one.
Cineuropa: You belong to a generation of producers who combine the film world with that of TV or platforms.
Clara Nieto: Yes, because it’s all about what you have to tell. And as for how you tell it, sometimes it makes sense if it’s more concise because the narrative arc doesn’t give you any more leeway, while at other times it’s nice to have more time to go deeper and veer off towards other places. In my audiovisual culture, it’s not so easy to define what I would consider an interesting work or single out an auteur worth keeping an eye on. In Spain, our generation of producers is coming up, as there has been a certain barrier to entry; it’s been hard, and the arrival of the platforms is paving the way towards that destination.
How do you figure out which stories and which talents to throw your weight behind?
I’m encouraged to back a story if it will help, if it’s useful, if what it’s going to recount is going to make us better in a profound sense, if it will make a change. It’s not so much a matter of prestige or money, but rather a question of whether it has anything to add or not, and on this point I share the views of the new generation of producers: does the film serve to create new benchmarks? To tell different stories that have not yet been told? And to investigate spaces of divergence, with unexplored points of view? It shouldn’t be a new thing to tell stories from a purely female point of view, not to mention LGBT, queer or genderfluid ones, representations of different bodies or characters of different races… That’s already old news in other cultural sectors, and in the field of audiovisual production, we have to start sending our support in another direction.
You have joined forces with Olmo Figueredo on your film Alegría (see the news): he was also one of the Producers on the Move – last year, in fact (see the interview).
Together, we produced Tu hijo [+see also:
film profile] as well as Adiós [+see also:
interview: Paco Cabezas
film profile]: we knew each other very well, as we had worked side by side, so we get on well and we teamed up like a brother and sister. He encouraged me to take part this year.
Your sister Marta Nieto is an actress (Madre [+see also:
interview: Rodrigo Sorogoyen
film profile]): do you come from an artistic family?
No, our parents are civil servants. But everything went very slowly: my sister always knew for certain that she wanted to act, and she had a hard time convincing my family. I studied Law and Business Management, but I let myself be guided by my aunt, a lawyer specialising in audiovisual intellectual property. I worked in that field for ten years, but I didn’t like it, because I missed the creative side, and from then on, I gradually made my way into production.
And you landed at Apache Films.
Yes, I had a project with Paula Ortiz, and we decided to co-produce it with Enrique López Lavigne, who offered me the chance to get involved in his films. With him, I made Tu hijo, Adiós, Holy Camp! [+see also:
interview: Javier Calvo and Javier Amb…
film profile], the series Paquita Salas and the short film Madre, with my sister and Rodrigo Sorogoyen, which we went all the way to the Oscars with. Then, with HBO and Marta, I also made the series At Home [see the news]. The people from Warner called me because they were looking for someone who could do production and help them with the business models. I started working for them on 9 March last year: the next day, I had the idea for that series, to be shot during the lockdown, giving a voice to young directors, forced out of work by the pandemic and eager to do stuff…
What are your expectations for Producers on the Move 2021?
I have the impression that films are like a river: they follow their own course, and at Cannes, doors will open up for the projects in development that I want to get off the ground. Juana by Pablo Agüero is a major international production, much like Akelarre [+see also:
interview: Pablo Agüero
film profile] was, looking at Latin America from here in Europe. It’s about the first female general in history, a mixed-race woman in Bolivia. It’s a period film with strong links to current affairs. I will also be taking along the science-fiction feature Octogenia, the feature debut by Blanca Torres. Sci-fi is a hugely influential genre, and this features a dystopia in the near future, where the population pyramid is flipped upside down. Our generation will reach a different kind of old age, where a conflict will perhaps be sparked with the generation that is already telling us it’s never going to forget our hedonism or our lifestyle, and the repercussions it has on them. Then… What will happen when they wield the power?
(Translated from Spanish)
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