Rise of the Beasts, ‘Moon Heart’ movies raise the country’s profile

Peru as a filming location can be seen before and after the making of “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” where a good part of the seventh iteration of the Paramount Pictures franchise is set in the picturesque country.

Directed by Steven Caple Jr. (“Creed II”), the upcoming “Transformers” would have injected more than $10 million into Peru’s economy. More importantly, it prompted the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue a new artistic production visa that provides special immigration status to visiting crew and talent, which in turn facilitates the importation of equipment and props. More than 30 vehicles, including trucks, high-speed cars, motorcycles and classic VWs, were shipped to Peru for the sci-fi film. In the past, people had to use a journalist visa to work on audiovisual projects in the country, which was cumbersome, says producer Bruno Canale of Apu Prods., which provided production services for the reportedly 200-year-old picture. millions of dollars.

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Set in the early 1990s, “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” stars Anthony Ramos (“In the Heights”) and Dominique Fishback (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) who lead a military and research team that is caught in the conflict. between the Autobots and the villainous Decepticons on Earth.

Filmed last year from late September to November, the production took in the cities of Cusco, Tarapoto and the iconic citadel of Machu Pichu, among other key locations. “The hotels and other places opened up for us at a time when tourism was down, partly because of the pandemic,” says Canale, who recalls that the production saved many from financial ruin, including a caterer who ended up feeding up to 1,500. -plus one day on big filming days. Having an Ecuadorian DP, Enrique Chediak (“Bumblebee,” “127 Hours”), also helped smooth over any language barriers, although many department heads were bilingual, Canale recalls. The production is still reeling from the loss of one of its producers, Duncan Henderson (“Oblivion,” “Maleficent”), who died in June. He was “like a father to us,” says Canale, adding, “His experience and knowledge were invaluable.”

The provincial municipality of Cusco reports that at least $3 million was generated in that city alone from both the latest “Transformers” and season 3 of the Netflix action series “La Reina del Sur.” “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” will premiere on June 9.

Coincidentally, Peru’s submission to the international Oscar race, “Moon Heart” (“El Corazon de la Luna”), also features a robot, an Iron Man inspired by Inca warriors, a Yawarbot, inhabited by actor Bruno Balbuena but who combined and stop. 3D motion and animation. “It is the first in-house production of the University of Lima, we hope to create many more,” says its producer Julio Wissar, head of the Audiovisual Creation Center of the University of Lima, Crea.

“Yawar means blood in the Quechua language, but it also sounds like jaguar [silent j] regarding the robot’s feline appearance,” notes Wissar.

Using 3D printers, they created the Yawarbot suit in a month and a half, which would probably take a year in Los Angeles, says its creator Edi Mérida in a short Making Of. “This is the first time we’ve ever tried something like this in Peru,” he adds.

Written and directed by Aldo Salvini, whose past short films have also featured fantasy elements, “Moon Heart” stars Cáceres as a poor, elderly woman grieving for her son who is saved by his demons, both imagined and real , by Yawarbot. The drama has no dialogue, its narrative driven only by music and choppy sounds.

“Moon Heart” is emblematic of the range of content produced in Peru, from the innovative to the more mainstream. “Peru has a talented team, many of whom have worked in award-winning television and advertising campaigns,” Wissar points out. The local film industry, although small, is recovering from the pandemic and reactivating. The consensus is that the industry could absorb two to three “Transformers”-sized productions per year.

“Moon Heart” was released in cinemas in Peru on October 27 by the distribution arm of Tondero, the producer of the biggest locally made blockbusters in the country’s film history.

Tondero is led by Miguel Valladares, whose deep experience and connections in the advertising industry have led him to successfully finance his films through a product placement strategy. The first of Tondero’s “Asu Mare” comedy franchises scored 3 million admissions in 2013, the second scored 3.3 million. As a reflection of the damage caused by the pandemic, Tondero’s product placement financing strategy is no longer sustainable. The latest “Asu Mare” spinoff, “Asu Mare: Los Amigos,” debuts on Netflix instead. “Streaming platforms saved us,” notes Valladares, who produced Netflix’s first original film in Peru, Without Saying Goodbye (“Hasta que nos volvamas a encontrar”), which debuted in April and it was #1 in Peru and in the top 10 in 70 countries for several weeks.

Tondero also provided production services for Netflix’s “La Reina del Sur,” which shot in Machu Pichu, Lima and Cusco. He expects to shoot four to five new projects next year. “The industry is picking up, but the same problems remain,” says Valladares, adding, “We still don’t have a filming commission and no incentive for the filming location.” He laments the loss of a project that went instead to Colombia, lured by its coveted tax incentives.

“I’m confident we’ll create a film commission, that’s a priority for us,” says Amora Carbajal, CEO of Peruvian promotion organization PromPeru, which has operated as an ad hoc film commission, facilitating visas, permits, but also providing support for Peru’s Oscar and Goya submission campaigns and the amplification of the Filming in Peru website. He also pushed for fiscal stimulus, an uphill battle that would require an act of parliament under the new president, Pedro Castillo.

Thanks to the production fund, albeit modest, managed by the Ministry of Culture, Peru produces more than 50 films a year, says Conrado Falco, head of PromPeru in Los Angeles. Last year, 68 films were released, both fiction and documentaries, but most of them online. “We hope to organize familiarization tours, press visits and a variety of networking events in the near future,” says Falco.

“Peru has everything at hand: the mountains, the sea, the desert, snowy landscapes and a coast,” points out Carbajal. “Its potential is incomparable.”

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