Colombian entrepreneur Andres Calderón wants his country’s emerging film industry to do more than make a profit. He wants it to be a focus of national pride—and he’s investing to make it happen.
In 2004, Calderón, 35, left a comfortable job at a hedge fund to create one of the first specialized film investment and management companies in Latin America. Under his direction, dynamo Capital manages the Fondo de Capital Privado de Cine Hispanoamericano, the second fund to register under the Colombian
Government Decree 2175, which established the legal framework for regulating collective investment schemes, ensuring stability and transparency for domestic investors. This coincided with another initiative, the Colombian Film Law, which promotes investment in the country’s film industry by allowing investors to offset 125 percent of the value of their investment against their tax bill. A former investment banker with an artistic bent, Calderón grabbed the opportunity, creating a local investment fund to support the budding business of Colombian films.
Calderón says the management company, which draws 96 percent of its capital from domestic pension funds, strives for a diverse portfolio of films. Any genre is welcome, as long as it fits the legal requirements of a Colombian production or co-production.
To minimize risk to investors, dynamo Capital (which Calderón says will offer 12 to 18 percent annual returns) has a built-in quality control department. Dynamo Producciones, the group’s production company, led by up-and-coming director Andi Baiz (Satanás) oversees and sometimes manages the creative end of each project. So far, they have a promising track record. Satanás, based on the Mario Mendoza novel about the country’s 1986 Pozzetto massacre won Best
Colombian Film at the 2008 Cartagena film festival and was Colombia’s entry for the 2008 Academy Awards.
Baiz, who prior to joining dynamo worked on films including Zoolander (2001) and Maria Full of Grace (2004), said he was drawn to dynamo because of its smart practices and creative flexibility. “Cinema is the perfect combination of art and commerce,” says Baiz, “And dynamo understands this balance perfectly.”
Other critically acclaimed box office Colombian films like Maria Full of Grace, Paraíso Travel and Soñar no Cuesta Nada have helped transform the country’s film industry into a regional leader, and dynamo Capital has clearly ridden the wave. The boom has found a hungry local audience: ticket receipts in Colombian cinemas grew from $17.1 million to $22 million between 2003 and 2008.
The launch of dynamo Capital coincided with (and reflected) Colombia’s boom in foreign and domestic investment. Calderón also believes the country and his industry are well positioned to withstand the global recession. “The financial crisis,” he says, “has only boosted Colombia’s new image as a land of opportunity.” Investors are increasingly looking to emerging markets for growth potential, and cinema is a relatively safe investment. People go to the movies to escape the tough economic realities of the times. In recent months, U.S. box office receipts have increased. Calderón is betting that this can benefit even foreign movies, and dynamo Capital’s investors.