Film making in Argentina:
Trajectory, organization, geography,
and the creation of externalities
José Antonio Borello, Aida Quintar, Gustavo Seijo, and
Adrián Pérez Llahi
UNGS/ CONICET, Argentina
[email protected]
(paper presented at the AAG meeting in Washington, 2010)
Topics discussed in the presentation
• We are presenting preliminary results of an ongoing research project on film making in Argentina.
• The presentation poses some questions and it looks
at three dimensions of Argentinean film making:
• its historical development,
• its past and current geography,
• and its current organization and links to TV and the
production of commercials,
• In the conclusions we will make some reflections
about the creation of agglomeration economies
around film making, particularly in the city of Buenos
Aires.
The larger project on film production and
consumption
• Although the presentation is centered on the processes
and agents connected to film production, the larger
project of which this paper is part also analyses
consumption and distribution and their interaction with
production. The latter are seen as socially and politically
constructed.
• One underlying intention of this paper is to contribute to
a more precise description of the architecture of
production systems in Argentina and other lessdeveloped countries.
• The theory and concepts emerging from the experience
of developed countries may be insufficient to understand
the production systems of less-developed countries.
I. QUESTIONS
Data and information on film making
• Existing secondary data on film making in Argentina has
a number of shortcomings that are a reflection of the
“common sense” knowledge about the activity.
• Most of the existing analysis on the film making complex
has been carried out by persons more interested in the
aesthetics of film and in parts of its consumption but
little on the organizational, social, economic or
geographical aspects, with few exceptions.
• This is also common to other cultural economic activities,
which have been analyzed from perspectives emanating
from the human sciences and from art.
• In part, the lack of information and analysis from social
and economic perspectives derives from what have been
the interests of the observers of these activities.
Specificities of film making and
methodological problems (1)
• Is the film project a valid unit of analysis?
• What is a movie?
• Motion pictures are very different from
time to time and from place to place.
• How to construct a valid historical
periodization of film making?
(organization of production, aesthetics,
political considerations?)
Other methodological questions (2)
• Film making shares with other cultural
activities a similar uncertainty about
demand. It is a product that goes looking
for a demand that is uncertain.
• In countries such as Argentina, can we
speak of a film industry?
Most vibrant television and cinemas around
the world based on IMDb
Key and sources:
Over 10,000 titles (green), over 5,000 (yellow), over 1,000 (blue)
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b3/Most_vibrant_cinemas.png
Brazil
Argentina
II. HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT
Argentina, number of movies released per year,
1897-2009
80
Pioneers of the silent era,1897-1932
Second "new
Cinema under a
Argentinean
First "new
military
dictatorship,
cinema", 1991Argentinean cinema",
'76-83
and
post1957-1976
Golden and classic periods,
1933-57
70
dictatorship, '83-'91
The age of the studios
60
50
40
30
20
Source: Data for 1910-2009 compiled by Adrián Pérez Llahí; 1897-1909, wikipedia
accessed on-line, February 2010
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Lists_of_Argentine_films .
2008
2005
2002
1999
1996
1993
1990
1987
1984
1981
1978
1975
1972
1969
1966
1963
1960
1957
1954
1951
1948
1945
1942
1939
1936
1933
1930
1927
1924
1921
1918
1915
1912
1909
1906
1903
1900
0
1897
10
III. GEOGRAPHY
Argentina, Film producers by province,
(economic census 2004)
Number of film
producers
Province
89
10
City of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires province
6
6
5
2
2
2
2
2
2
6
134
Córdoba
Santa Fe
Mendoza
Catamarca
La Pampa
Río Negro
San Luis
Salta
Tucumán
Others
TOTAL
Number of film
producers
Province
89
10
City of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires province
6
6
5
2
2
2
2
2
2
6
134
Córdoba
Santa Fe
Mendoza
Catamarca
La Pampa
Río Negro
San Luis
Salta
Tucumán
Others
TOTAL
Buenos Aires
Metropolitan Region
13 million people
1/3 of Argentina’s population
1/2 of nat’l manufacturing
City of Buenos Aires
proper
City of Buenos Aires proper.
Largest concentration of film producers (units)
13
9
25
5
27
8
DOWNTOWN
City of Buenos Aires, Film producers by
district,
(economic census 2004)
Number of film
producers
27
25
13
9
8
5
1
1
89
District number
1
9
10
14
3
2
11
13
TOTAL
Neighborhoods included totally or partially in each district
Downtown (Retiro, Recoleta, San Nicolás, Balvanera)
Palermo, Colegiales, Villa Crespo
Belgrano, Núñez, Coghlan, Saavedra
Chacarita, Paternal, Villa Ortúzar and others
Montserrat, Constitución, San Telmo
Balvanera, Almagro
Flores, Pque. Avellaneda, Floresta
Pque. Avellaneda, Mataderos, Villa Luro, Villa Lugano
IV. ORGANIZATION
Film producers, integration, links to other activities
• There are few film producers that actually last from one
movie to the next one. The reproduction of the activity
into the future occurs at the level of technicians and
tightly connected small groups that move from one
movie project into the next.
• As in other economic activities, such as manufacturing,
firms tend to be more integrated and to have a broader
product mix than in DCs. This is because film making in
Argentina does not seem to be a commercially
successful activity but an excuse, an anchor for other
activities.
• Recent data show that about half of the technicians
working in film production also work (in any given year)
in the production of advertising films. Yet the number of
people working in advertising films is more than three
times the number of people working in film production.
Number of technicians who worked in
adverting films and movies, 2008
Num ber of people
w ho w orked in both
advertis ing and
m ovies ; 568; 13%
Num ber of people
w ho w orked in
m ovies ; 575; 13%
Num ber of people
w ho w orked in
advertis ing film s ;
3193; 74%
FINAL REMARKS (1)
• Historical development and trajectory:
– Erratic trajectory?
– Discontinuous learning processes
– Large state role
• Current geography:
– Few large movie producers, many small enterprises
heavily concentrated in Buenos Aires
• Organization and links to other activities:
– Important links to commercials, acting, TV,
international connections continue and are very
relevant.
FINAL REMARKS (2)
• With few national restrictions to the
distribution of foreign films and a small
local market Argentinean films rarely make
profits.
• Over 70% of the public goes to North
American movies. Movie theaters have
also become concentrated in transnational
enterprises with important links to
distributors.
• The public is caught in the aesthetics of
Hollywood?
• Thank you!!
• [email protected]
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Film making in Argentina: Trajectory, organization