Multinational companies are increasingly filming commercials and other audiovisual projects in Uruguay to take advantage of the country’s skilled technicians and low production costs.
“Amongst the Latin American countries, Uruguay offers the lowest cost of production per day,” said Emiliano Mazza, executive producer with PARISTEXAS Production House S.A., a video production company based in the country’s capital of Montevideo.
The Uruguayan workforce has a high level of technical and linguistic expertise in comparison with other parts of South America, Mr. Mazza told GlobalAtlanta. He added that Uruguay is a safe country with a legal environment that facilitates business transactions. It is estimated that in 2006 between $20 million and $25 million was invested by international firms in audiovisual production in Uruguay.
Uruguayan companies are typically contracted through international advertising agencies; thus, most of their income usually comes from multinational corporations. According to Federico Calabia, executive producer at Flehner Films Uruguay S.A., 99 percent of the firm’s transactions take place with companies from outside the domestic market.
This summer, Mr. Calabia’s company filmed a Lady Speed Stick commercial for New York advertising firm Young & Rubicam Inc. in both Montevideo and Punta del Este, a Uruguayan beach resort town.
PARISTEXAS’s biggest customer is Mattel Inc., an American manufacturer of children’s toys. The Uruguayan company is in charge of filming large-scale advertisements for Max Steel, one of Mattel’s action figures.
Oriental Films S.A., a Uruguayan production company founded by Diego Robino and Charly Gutiérrez in 2007, films commercials for international firms in various locations throughout Uruguay. In a short period of time, the company has already worked with multinational corporations such as Coca-Cola Co., Ford Foundation, Volkswagen AG and General Electric Co. The international market currently represents 85 percent of Oriental Films’ income. Mr. Gutiérrez thinks that multinationals choose his company because it produces high-quality work at more competitive rates than firms in other countries.
The conditions in Uruguay are also ideal for audiovisual work because there is a large variety of scenery and architectural styles, according to Mr. Mazza.
He said the most popular locations for filming are the cities of Montevideo, Punta del Este and Colonia del Sacramento, each located on the country’s beach-lined coast. According to Andy Rosenblatt, executive director at Metropolis Films S.A., Uruguayan locations “have it all” because they can look like any part of the world, from beaches to grasslands to urban street scenes.
Uruguay also has vast stretches of farmland where hills and small creeks are the typical scenery, and the country’s highways are in good condition for filming car commercials, Mr. Mazza added. He noted that good weather and long sunrises and sunsets are particularly attractive for filming purposes in Uruguay.
According to Mr. Rosenblatt, another advantage Uruguayan locations offer is the short distances that separate them. Even when an ideal setting is not available in Uruguay, Buenos Aires, Argentina, is only half an hour away by plane. “It takes a shorter amount of time than getting from Buckhead to the center of Atlanta,” he added.
U.S. companies are also choosing to shoot corporate advertisements in Uruguay because there is a large supply of English-speaking college graduates trained in multimedia production, says Nicolas Francolino, advertising professor at the University of Montevideo’s Communications Department.
The number of universities that include a communications degree is growing as significantly as the number of college graduates in the area. Moreover, according to Mr. Francolino, the Uruguayan education system has trained professionals in many other areas that contribute to audiovisual production, such as psychology and sociology.
Uruguay is also attracting other audiovisual production projects besides advertising, including full-length movies and video clips. For example, parts of the recent Hollywood films “Miami Vice” and “Blindness” were filmed on Uruguayan sets.
Moreover, some Uruguayan production companies are also participating in the production of these films. For example, Metropolis Films was chosen by Universal Pictures to participate in the production of Miami Vice.
According to Mr. Mazza, Uruguay began to be noticed by the international market as a potential film set location because of the awards achieved by Uruguayan movies such as “25 Watts,” “Whisky” and “El Baño del Papa.”
Although the audiovisual production achievements in Uruguay to date are remarkable, most professionals agree that the sky is the limit. “I think we can still grow even more than we have until now,” Mr. Francolino told GlobalAtlanta.