Hecho En Cine Productions Blends Argentina and Texas


Hecho en CineA murder mystery unravels in the middle of the Patagonian Steppe in the short film Sobre la Estepa, loosely translated from Spanish as These Wild Plains. Hecho en Cine, a production company based both in Texas and Patagonia, Argentina, produced the 12-minute movie, which will tentatively have its U.S. premiere in Austin this April at the 15th Annual Cine Las Americas International Film Festival.

Sobre la Estepa was funded through Kickstarter, and was shot in San Carlos de Bariloche, a city situated in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in the province of Rio Negro, Argentina.

Ty Roberts, Hecho en Cine co-founder and Sobre la Estepa writer and director, said the idea for the movie came to him after meeting "interesting" people on a location scout in Patagonia.

"They immediately caught my eye," Roberts said. "It was just a really odd and interesting combination of characters."

During his research for Sobre la Estepa, Roberts came across the 2008 short film Sikumi (On The Ice), which was shot entirely in the Inupiaq language, spoken by the people of Alaska's Northwest Arctic and North Slope. Sikumi, about an Inuit hunter who inadvertently  witnesses a murder, became Roberts's model for Sobre la Estepa, which was shot in Spanish and Mapuche, the language of the indigenous peoples of Southwestern Argentina.

Roberts said the actors in Sobre la Estepa were not professionally trained. One of the movie's actors is a gaucho he met while filming a documentary, the other is a Mapuche.

Carolina Peredo, Hecho en Cine executive producer and producer of Sobre la Estepa, said the movie is about the historical struggle over territory and ownership. The short film was made in the cinematic elements of the western genre. She said geographically, Texas and Patagonia are similar. Roberts agreed that Bariloche is a perfect place to film a Western movie because the landscape is "epic."

Peredo, a Bariloche native, and Roberts moved from Buenos Aires to the city for more than a year to work on Sobre la Estepa.

In 2005, Roberts and John Pitts co-founded Hecho en Cine, a full-service boutique production company that specializes in remote, on-location shoots throughout the Americas. Peredo and Roberts met in Argentina five years ago, while he worked with her brother, who was a camera assistant. She officially joined the company in 2009.

Roberts's ventures into South America occured after he graduated from The University of Texas. He moved to Argentina to begin writing for a consulting firm, and later wrote scripts for commercials. He worked as a location scout in Argentina for Disney's films The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, then produced the as-yet-unreleased documentary The Magic of Patagonia for Disney Nature.

"Right after (The Chronicles of Narnia) I got another phone call and another one," Roberts said. "All of these people started getting interested in Argentina all of a sudden."

The Magic of Patagonia focuses on ten animals indigenous to Argentina, such as the Southern Patagonian Steppe Llama featured in Sobre la Estepa. Peredo said the research process for The Magic of Patagonia was "incredible." Roberts said the movie's production team recruited many of Argentina's expert scientists. Production for The Magic of Patagonia is on hiatus.

Hecho en Cine first produced the 2006 documentary Luz del Mundo. The short film about the death of Beat legend Neal Cassady was filmed in the desert near Jalpa, Mexico and stars former Austinite Austin Nichols and actor Will Estes.

After living in Argentina for almost four years, Roberts moved back to Texas, but then returned to Argentina four years ago to finish producing the documentary The Path of the Condor with a friend from Bariloche. The Path of the Condor is narrated by Argentinean actor Viggo Mortensen. Roberts and Peredo said Mortensen is an "incredible guy" who worked on the documentary out of the "goodness of his heart."

Peredo, a former Argentine government press secretary and junior producer for the country's largest news channel, used her professional contacts and resources to find the remaining funds for The Path of the Condor. The movie was sold last year to Discovery Asia.

Peredo and Roberts currently live in Austin. She produces content for a Spanish-language website, while he produces and directs live concerts.

"Hecho en Cine is not a job," Peredo said. "It's a way of life."

Sobre la Estepa will be on the film-festival circuit this year throughout Switzerland, South America and Mexico.