Photo of set for Marcel Camus' “Black Orpheus“ Production Design: Pierre Guffroy
“Our film industry has been growing over the last few years, thanks to government public policies enabling expansion of film and TV productions. Our advertising and commercial industry is strong and well-structured, and some of our film productions receive international attention. Based on recent numbers, Brazil produces about 160 films per year (137 films in 2010, 167 films in 2013, 180 films in 2014).
The industry is mostly concentrated on the axis Rio de Janeiro x Sao Paulo, but there are satellite centers in Porto Alegre in the south of Brazil, Recife in the northeast and Brasilia in the center. I live in Sao Paulo and work mostly there, though this year I worked on a film in Porto Alegre, which was produced locally.
The local audiences here, like in most countries, have great appetite for American blockbusters - whether action films, dramas, romance or comedy. As far as local films produced here, many tend towards commercial comedies that are closely connected to the telenovelas and series of the big TV channels. Some other examples of success among audiences are action films that translate the reality of poverty, violence and drug trafficking (City of God, Elite Squad).
Often, local industry collaborates with foreign productions - in commercials, international productions often come with director/producer/DP/AD and then hire the rest of the crew locally. In film, frequently there are co-productions between Brazilian companies and production companies from different countries, resulting crews that are a mix of locals and foreigners. The frequency of these collaborations tend to depend on the state of our economy and the worth of the local currency in relation to foreign currencies. The core art department's structure on a medium film is as follows: PD, 1st art assistant (my right arm, goes everywhere with me, visiting, staying on set...), set designer (developing sets), propmaster (also in charge of set dressing) and art producer (in charge of construction and paint). The rest of the crew gets hired on a need basis (such as carpenters, scenics etc).
What makes Brazil special as a location, without question in my opinion, is the exuberance of nature. With its continental scale, the country offers many different landscapes. In Rio de Janeiro, the encounter between city and nature creates immense beauty that is unique worldwide. As far as working environment, I believe that although the country needs to evolve in terms of pace, bureaucracy, ethics and combating corruption, our film industry is full of quality professionals of international standards, dynamic productions and people with passion for good work!
In terms of the position of production designer, we are at an interesting moment in time: our industry has had a resurgence in the past 20 years, from the mid-nineties till now, and as a result production designers became acknowledged in the market, and also mentored a new generation of professionals. In the last 5 years the demand has been growing, which has lead to more professionals entering the industry. Many of the production designers come for an architecture background (which is my case) or from fine arts, and only learn film production through practice. We have an association here in Sao Paulo, ADASP (Associaçao dos diretores de Arte de SP), which counts about 50 professionals and meets sporadically. We interact infrequently, but could cooperate much more!
Personally, though a great part of my influences and visual references come from work and artistic manifestations created in other cultures, my goal is to translate those into our society, our “personality” in its various times. In that sense, the reality (economic, social, historic) generates spaces, streets, architectural solutions, social groups that are great sources of inspiration to me when I set out to create a universe of images and define a path for a project. One of my latest films, Jules and Dolores (dir: Caito Ortiz), recently premiered at the SXSW Film Festival. It is a comedy of errors depicting the theft of the Jules Rimet Cup in 1983 in Rio de Janeiro. The cup is given to each country that wins the football World Cup, and was permanently given to Brazil in 1970, after they achieved their 3rd World Cup win. Our references varied from works of the painter Giorgio Morandi to Brazilian films made in the early 80s, and we are very proud of the result! Attached are photos from the productions, and a link to the trailer.”
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