The Rio Grande Valley is not perceived as a film industry mecca, yet it is the home of a top-of-the-line, nationally accredited production company. “Nobody in South Texas has our record of delivery. We are the number one production company in the Valley,” said Harlingen native Roberto Rodriguez, owner of Rio Bravo Pictures.
After earning a degree in film with a minor in international marketing from the University of Texas in Austin, Rodriguez spent three years traveling the world, filming documentaries for the Travel Channel. He developed skills and a professional reputation that led to a freelance career as a development photographer and lucrative contracts with National Geographic, MTV and the Discovery Channel. Rodriguez had set out to college never thinking of returning to the Valley, but concern for his mother made him reconsider. He soon realized he could live here and travel to different locations when needed. Rodriguez relocated to McAllen and in 2007, he opened Rio Bravo Pictures at the Art Village in McAllen.
Valley businesses looking to brand their products and promote their companies no longer need to go outside the Valley to find a state-of-the-art production company attuned to helping them grow. “We are not the low cost leader, but our results are measurable. The student population at a local college grew almost 30% after the campaign we created for them aired on television,” he said, adding that his services cost remarkably less than if contracted outside the Valley.
Rodriguez’ clientele include national and state corporations like ESPN and Texas Lottery. Rio Bravo attracts them because his company meets industry requirements such as insurance and workmen’s comp, which are needed to secure legitimate contracts. “Filming can be a hazardous activity,” Rodriguez said.
Rio Bravo Pictures consists of three full-time employees and a pool of about 16 contract specialists in graphics, animation and location production crews. Together, they advise on strategy and creative, increase website impact and help tell a story though various mediums. The company’s production capabilities and post-production facilities are unmatched in South Texas. Rodriguez relishes creative collaboration with his client’s staff, like the marketing department at Lone Star National Bank, one local client. He also partners with local advertising agencies to film the highest quality TV commercials in the market. Rio Bravo Pictures was the first regional company to deliver HD production services in 2008.
This first generation college graduate who became infatuated with filmmaking at a young age knows success does not come easy, and he realizes there are many challenges to overcome. “It is hard to find the people who are willing to put in the work and dedication that is required in this industry. Technology changes fast, and we have to stay ahead to compete,” Rodriguez said. He has worked to instruct and raise the level of crews in the Valley by sponsoring training workshops and industry lectures. He said he feels privileged by what life has bestowed and wants to share his experience with others.
For more of this story by Nydia O. Tapia-Gonzales, visit the “Current & Past Issues” tab or pick up a copy of Valley Business Report’s August 2014 print edition.