John Hopewell for Variety
MIAMI — Three of Latin America’s best known TV execs – José ‘Pepe’ Bastón, Jeff Symon, Carlos Martínez – have unveiled Elefantec Global, a media and entertainment company which adds a new and significant player to Latin America’s – and Turkey’s – content creation scene.
Based out of Los Angeles, Miami and Mexico City, Elefantec Global has also revealed its first talent relationships and a clutch of its first titles, as it made its official market bow at NATPE, hitting the ground running with over 50 original media properties in development, including dramas, biopics, comedies, thrillers and scripted reality.
Unveiled to Variety Wednesday at the NATPE conference in Miami – where the executives took discreet one-to-one meetings with targeted potential clients – Elefantec sees Bastón, a former president of Mexican TV giant Televisa, join forces with Symon, who previously headed up the Global Content, Distribution & Licensing & Merchandising Business for Grupo Televisa, and Martínez, ex-president of Fox Networks Group Latin America, Symon serves as Elefantec COO, Martínez as its head of distribution. They are joined by Carlos Sandoval, Antonio Alonso and Daniel Ucrós.
Elefantec executives have, as Bastón puts it, the “know-how and know who” to position titles in the market.
“What is particularly unique about Elefantec is that we have assembled a proven management team that really has its finger on the pulse of what Spanish-language consumers are looking for in their distinct markets, whether that be Mexican, South American or European audiences,” said Martínez.
He went on: “Our team brings insider knowledge based on years of growing relationships and seeing precisely what works for viewers.”
“What marks the strategies that we’e pursuing in this media company, however, is the creative talent,” Bastón added.
Over the past year, Elefantec has built talent relationships with creatives of “proven success, consistence and originality,” Bastón said. The current Elefantec talent roster takes in Latin America and Turkey, a source of massive hits on free-to-air networks in Latin America:
*Gustavo Loza “A great film producer, who has seen success in linear and no-linear TV,” said Bastón. Loza was writer-director-producer of “¿Qué culpa tiene el niño?,” the seventh-highest grossing Mexican film of all time, as well as “40 y 20,” a premium Televisa comedy TV series now on Season 4, and writer-director producer of “Run Coyote Run,” a big hit for Fox Networks Group Latin America in Mexico, and OTT series “Sincronía.”
*Mauricio Argüelles, producer of comedy “No Manches Frida” 1 & 2, the fifth and third highest grossing Mexican films in Mexico, punching near equal box office in the U.S.
*Gastón Portal, creator of original TV series including “Las 13 Esposas de Wilson Fernández” (TV Pública Argentina/Televisa) and the upcoming “La Noche Mágica,” (Disney), starring two of Argentina’s highest profile actors, Natalia Oreiro and Diego Peretti.
*Adriana Bello, co-executive producer of Netflix’s “Made in Mexico,” considered by Forbes as the most polemical Netflix series from Mexico and supervising producer on Amazon Prime Video comedy show “Laughing Out Loud.”
*Inci Gülen, creator of “Elif,” the best-selling daily Turkish drama of the past decade, mow running to over 1,200 episodes, and a time-slot champion for networks in Europe, Asia and Spanish-speaking countries including Chile, Argentina, U.S. Hispanic, Puerto Rico, Peru and Spain.
Novel among Elefantec’s strategies is that it sees its creative partners as their own talent hubs. “We don’t want Gustavo Loza to create titles one-by-one,” said Bastón. He’s a writer-director-producer, a classic showrunner figure who can develop projects by a portfolio of other talents as well.
Also breaking new ground, Elefantec Global has a new original format, Latino Turkish Drama, which it is developing in partnership with Turkish producer Stellar Yapim. The partnership has created an initial slate of five new Spanish-language drama series, each to last at least 60-plus hours, which are comprised by “Betrayed,” “Rosa,” “I’m a Mother. “Cuts Like a Knife” and “Twist of Fate.”
Series will be written, produced and filmed in the Spanish-language in Turkey and feature top Latino talent, with the goal of distribution of the original work to Spanish-language markets as well as dubbed versions for drama audiences worldwide., Elefantec Global said in a written statement.
Tapping into the zeitgeist, “Tatuajes,” another drama series, weighs in as an anthology television series based on the premise that there is a story behind every tattoo that a person has on their body. Every episode features different stories with a different set of characters. The series is connected, however, through Gabriel “Gabo” Cruz, a 50-year old man who opened a Mexico-City based Tattoo Studio following the unfortunate death of his bride to be.
Created by Loza, “Sugar Daddy” is a half-hour sitcom that explores the hilarious side of rich old men who lavish gifts on younger woman in return for their company, or something else.
Also acquiring rights to unique and proprietary properties, Elefantec Global’s first title is “La Pasión del Mundo,” a multimedia TV, film, digital, live performance project slated for 2021 and based on the life story of José Alfredo Jiménez, the Mexican singer-songwriter of rancheras, whose songs are considered an integral part of Mexico’s musical heritage.
Also pioneering is the technological cutting edge that Symon brings to the company. That cuts two ways, he told Variety.
One is Cloud technology. With its talent spread out over Mexico, Argentina and Turkey, and with offices in the U.S., Elefantec is taking everything from synopses of ideas and initial creative concepts to all back-office production, management, accounting, legal services into the cloud. That allows its talent to remain in their own countries, not have to relocate to Los Angeles.
Second, Symon has commissioned massive studies of millennial 18-35s consumer trends in Mexico and, in a second, all over the Spanish-speaking world to allow creatives and broadcaster partners to create content based on their data insight analytics.
“By having a stable of creative talent to tap, in concert with a data-driven technology platform, we can bring a made-to-order asset for any content buyer,” said Symon.
“A buyer can choose to act on a particular pilot or development deal, or they can work with us and our content creators to fill a specific niche or hole they want to fill in their programming.”