For Cerezo, producing is just a day job


MADRID -- Enrique Cerezo seems an unlikely film producer in Spain: He boasts no artsy airs. He unapologetically seeks financial gain. And most shockingly, he's the president of -- ahem -- a professional soccer team.

Nonetheless, Cerezo is one of Spain's most powerful and prolific producers. One of the film industry's most public figures, he heads the audiovisual producers' rights management body, EGEDA, and the Madrid Film Commission. He also owns the most extensive catalog in the Spanish-speaking world -- and masterfully moves it.

His office -- with its books on the international film industry, baby pictures of Spain's crowned prince's heir, original artworks and mementos from a stint as a sports emissary to support Madrid's bid to host the 2012 Olympics -- weaves together the varied threads of this extremely busy man's life.

Cerezo juggles heading one of Madrid's two main soccer clubs with film production.

"I identify with both of my worlds and I try to balance them," Cerezo says. "They are both show business and systems of risk and uncertainty. It's the same at the beginning of a game as when you premiere a film: You never know what's going to happen."

"Visionary" is often the word used to describe the man, who started in 1971 as a camera assistant and has since cobbled together an empire of some 6,000 titles that includes the property rights to many European and Spanish classics.

"He has impressive business intuition," Notro CEO Adolfo Blanco says. "His vision demonstrates the value of owning the negatives of films and focusing a business on the negatives."

His company, Enrique Cerezo Producciones, dabbles in each film sector, with a 16-screen exhibition chain, a lab to improve negatives' quality and -- why not? -- a local TV channel that primarily airs his movies.

His success has given him freedom to exercise the nearly unheard of ability to give the green light to projects of his volition.

"He has the habit of financially backing productions from the first minute, without the need to wait on financing sources, which in numerous occasions paralyzes a project for life," says Alvaro Augustin, general manager of Telecinco Cinema, the film production branch of broadcaster Telecinco and the co-producer of Cerezo's upcoming "We're All Invited."     

Most in the industry welcome his ingenuity and trust that it works to their advantage. Thus, his fruitful run as president of EGEDA.

Under his guidance, EGEDA created the Internet Web site, designed to regain producers' control over all rights, and has created a €7 million fund for producers to reciprocate guaranteeing each others' loans.

"There's a reason Enrique Cerezo has been elected and re-elected president of EGEDA, and that is that he is not only one of the most important producers in the country, he knows how to surround himself with a qualified team of people he trusts to make fresh ideas work," EGEDA general manager Miguel Angel Benzal says.