Lights, camera, action: The secret behind Producciones Almendares
“Here we have learned to do more with less, without sacrificing the quality of our work”
– What should a Cuban private audiovisual production company have in order to distinguish itself from other similar businesses?
– “Good customer service, transparency, applied cinematographic techniques that endorse us as professionals and the ability to undertake four or five jobs simultaneously, and put our hearts into each one.”
Thus Patricia Santa Coloma summarizes her work, who for some seven years has thrown herself into the adventure of creating Producciones Almendares (PA), a comprehensive production house that makes this work viable and economically grounded, according to the moment the country is living. A team that works like a family.
Based in Havana, Producciones Almendares carries out all kinds of activities, from private events such as birthdays, quinceañeras and weddings, to processing filming permits, producing institutional, promotional, and music videos, coordination of productions to be made in Cuba, equipment management, technical teams, transportation, catering, documentaries, short films, feature films.
The idea came to life in 2012, when Patricia organized her own wedding. The decoration company suggested that she take care of the filming herself and that they work together on other similar events in the future. As a young graduate of the School of Audiovisual Media of the Higher Institute of Arts (ISA), the idea was not very attractive at first, but Patricia immediately began to refer to international examples, and accepted the challenge.
“We decided to start with weddings or any social event, and thus gain appeal to carve out a path in the film industry. That’s what we have achieved, with a good distribution of short films. We have secured international awards that mean Producciones Almendares is seen as a serious audiovisual producer, in the eyes of the film market beyond Cuba.
“At Almendares, we work towards a better social environment, we train young filmmakers; every year I choose the best students to work at PA and so they learn. In my work team I have many people that I care for, mainly because they have been instilled not only with the love of this work and respect, but I have taught them from scratch,” Patricia explains.
It might seem like a simple job to do, without major difficulties, but the truth is that sustaining a private audiovisual production company is a very complicated exercise requiring constant creativity.
“It has been very difficult. If I was asked again, I wouldn’t do it. Everyone has had to be educated about the importance of advertising, the costs of a video, whether it be a wedding or any other audiovisual material; because they transcend, convey, generate emotions. We have managed to establish Cuba as a Wedding Destination, market its facilities and thus strengthen tourism to the island, generating jobs and income,” Patricia stresses.
PA has opted for a scalable business model, where small steps to diversify, focused mainly on national clients, are the most important aspect.
“We want private businesses to get ahead and make themselves known through our social networks. We believe that if everyone works a little better every day, socially we will be a stronger economy. This has meant that many clients are loyal to PA, and in this sense we have also achieved a good portfolio of international clients.”
Every day brings new challenges. Right now, continuing PA’s work without raising prices is difficult. “In this reality where all prices are soaring, both in transport and food, ours have remained unchanged,” Patricia clarifies.
In the future, Patricia and her team dream of having their own studio, and making feature films inside and outside Cuba.
“Making a short movie is one of our current challenges. It is in the preparation phase and with the present situation in the country, we are creating many strategies to achieve it. But we will do it,” she stresses.
The success of PA is largely due to the human qualities of each of its members, which allow this production house to operate perfectly, like the big family it is.