Located in Mexico City, the Mexican Film Commission (COMEFILM) took over the duties of promoting audiovisual production in Mexico in 2007 from a private organization that did this job for approximately 10 years. “The decision to incorporate it to the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE) came from the need [to provide] an integral support to all film productions,” says COMEFILM’s Carla Raygoza, who works alongside Mauricio Pedroza and commission Director Hugo Villa. The trio possesses a wealth of film experience –– Raygoza has worked as a production coordinator on feature films, such as Munich and Resident Evil: Extinction, Pedroza served as a production assistant on Apocalypto and Miami Vice, and Villa has extensive experience as a production manager, cinematographer and producer.
According to Raygoza, COMEFILM provides a variety of services, ranging from location photos to legal counsel. With strong government film support, the commission advises filmmakers on the fiscal and traditional film incentives available in the country and each state. Furthermore, COMEFILM offers information on the advantages of co-production treaties and gives insights on obtaining co-production partners in Mexico. On the legal and bureaucratic end, the commission serves as a liaison with state and municipal governments, and acts as legal counsel regarding customs, immigration and other production-related issues. They have also compiled production directories that include contact information for crews, rental equipment, general services, production companies and more.
COMEFILM has worked to ease foreign productions’ transitions into Mexico and advocated for more efficient customs requirements. “This film commission has worked in conjunction with other government instances to try to facilitate certain processes that are obligatory to all foreign productions, such as immigration and customs,” reports Raygoza. “As recent as 2007, all foreign productions ― whether it was a major Hollywood film shooting eight to ten weeks or more, or a documentary shooting for just two days ― immigration and customs requirements were exactly the same: time consuming, costly and complicated. Now, audiovisual productions coming to Mexico for less than 30 days, with a small crew holding passports of unrestricted countries and bringing [little] equipment from abroad, are subject to a much easier and faster process. Obviously, all projects should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and they all should consult us before coming into Mexico. We collaborated in legislating the film industry in Mexico City, which now has its film commission created by law, and are currently working with a couple of states to do the same with them.”
Raygoza states that COMEFILM has supported over 70 productions in its brief two-year history. Their foreign, domestic and co-production film credits include Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Sólo quiero caminar, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Che: Part One, Arráncame la vida, Rudo y Cursi, City of Ember, Dragonball Evolution, Fast & Furious and Backyard.
Ultimately, COMEFILM hopes to elevate the audiovisual industry as an economy-driven force that provides local film commissions with the legal tools to do the job required. Raygoza notes that Mexico’s film industry has already experienced tremendous growth. “Little by little, we continue working in facilitating certain production-related processes for the benefit of all audiovisual projects, both Mexican and foreign,” she states. “Foreign films can only benefit by the growing domestic industry which is stronger than ever, producing an average of 50 films a year. Mexico is, now more than ever, the one-stop shop for all kinds of productions.”