We sat down with Alejandro Noriega, Rebeca Producciones’ founder and executive producer to talk about ‘Cancer Before Cancer’, winner of the CICLOPE Latino Grand Prix 2024.

Alejandro explained how the Rebeca crew produced this low budget spot for charity Fundación Peruana de Cáncer,  which captured hearts and minds.

Highlighting the struggle of many Peruvians’ to not only find cancer treatment, but travel to their destination, the ad is told through the eyes of a woman urgently trying to take her daughter to a cancer hospital, enhanced by a haunting soundtrack, donated to the project and performed acapella by Peruvian artist Susana Baca.

How did it feel to win the Grand Prix at CICLOPE Latino? 

It’s a first for Peru and we’re so happy to be noticed in the region, among the Brazilian production companies, and those from Argentina and Mexico. The team that worked on this project was wonderful and this Grand Prix is also theirs.
Besides winning the Grand Prix, “Cancer before Cancer” won Best Cinematography (Julian Estrada), Best Use of Music (Agosto Sound & Craft) and the Award for Low Budget, it cost around $25,000 to make.

This shows that having a great idea and a team that is passionate and persistent can lead to remarkable outcomes, even if the budget is limited. And while the budget is crucial, it’s not the most important factor in achieving success.

Tell us about the production process for “Cancer before Cancer”.

We make a couple of pro bono TV spots for charities each year.  This is our way of giving back to our community. We invest in the budget to ensure the end result is optimal. Agency, Fahrenheit DDB, approached us about the Fundación Peruana de Cáncer project. 

When I read the idea, I was surprised by its potential, and immediately thought of Roddy Dextre as the perfect director for the job. Roddy is an award-winning Peruvian creative who won Best Director at the CICLOPE Latino this year. We were right: he was the right fit. 

Roddy conducted extensive research for the project by interviewing nurses, doctors, and families who had experienced the situation firsthand. This is where he drew inspiration to develop the script: from reality. Once we had the story, our production team, led by Eduardo Guerra and Luis Chamorro, scouted the best locations and casting options.

What was the role of craft in bringing the story to life? 

During the initial stages, we were well aware of the budget constraints,  but it was our responsibility to make this feel like a big budget piece. So we adopted a filmmaking approach to the production. In other words, we treated it more like a short film than an ad.

Our main focus was on selecting locations that weren’t far apart, choosing the right moments of light, and ensuring that the production values were integrated into the spot to make it look more real.

Unlike typical advertising, we didn’t prioritize aesthetics over substance. The budget didn’t allow us to hire big-name actors, build enormous sets or use expensive camera equipment. However, we were determined to deliver a great production, and we did so by relying on our skills, passion, and desire to help.

What is craft to you? 

It is constructed with the purpose of adding value to an idea. We should all work together to build the form and develop the substance, as this will allow for a closer connection and ultimately a more impactful outcome.

Why do you think this is such a powerful film? 

The story is based on truth. The entire crew worked with this objective in mind, to create a raw and intimate portrayal of the reality of families dealing with cancer and their journey to receive treatment at a hospital far from their homes.

Peru is a very centralised country, with all major institutions located only in Lima, the capital city. This is something that comfortable city dwellers in Peru may not even notice. The hard-hitting truth of this reality can be shocking, and it can be even more impactful for those from other countries. I felt this strongly when I saw the audience reaction at the CICLOPE Latino awards ceremony.

Cancer before Cancer - Fundación Peruana de Cáncer

Can you tell us about Rebeca Producciones and how the company launched? 

Rebeca was born 12 years ago. Our idea was to create a creative production company representing international directors to achieve a refresh in the Peruvian market. During the first five years, Rebeca exclusively worked with directors from Spain, Argentina, United States, and Colombia.

This allowed us to learn about other production processes and the importance of good craftsmanship. It helped us refine our processes and rigor.  For many years, Peruvian advertising was looking outward (especially to Argentina), but at one point we began to talk about us and our reality, that’s when Rebeca realized the importance of incorporating local directors. 

Afterwards, we created ShootPeru (www.shootperu.pe), our production services arm. ShootPeru has been working with production companies in Europe, North and South America, and has achieved excellent results.

How is craft and creativity developing in Peru? 

Peruvian people are resilient. We make a lot from little and we have a lot of talented people. But the market is still small and we need to grow. We want to showcase Peru as an excellent destination for producers from other countries, with a diverse range of locations including beach landscapes, extensive dunes, jungle, modern cities, the Andes, and more. Participating in festivals helps us display our achievements and attract attention to Peru.

What trends are emerging in production right now – what is changing? 

As with many things in life, trends tend to repeat themselves, and it seems that the trend of well-told films that focus on promoting a brand is making a comeback. While Meta still suggests making short 15-second videos that showcase the product or logo early on, there is a growing interest in longer-form films that offer more value to the brand being promoted.

Additionally, despite the rise of digital formats, there is a resurgence of interest in using film as a medium. This, coupled with the lessons learned during the pandemic-induced lockdown, has led to more collaborations with professionals from different locations, opening up new creative possibilities through remote working.

Is AI a friend or foe?

I think that AI is one tool, one great tool. It can aid us in creating treatments. It allows us to take something that may only exist in the director’s mind and bring it to life as a proposal with visual aids. While the rapid advancement of AI can be intimidating, it is already integrated into our daily lives in many ways, even if we are not always aware of it. We just need to embrace it and make it our own.

What are you looking forward to in 2024? 

This year we will be looking to produce a lot for the United States, and we are considering opening an office in New York to bring some Latin blood to their productions.


Thank you Alejandro!