Interview with Steve Solot, Executive Director of the Brazilian Film Commission Network
The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio proved that Brazil was ready to break on to the international scene, but what can the country offer for productions? TLG sat down with Steve Solot, Executive Director of the Brazillian Film Commission Network (also known as REBRAFIC), to discuss how the country fares on the global locations market.
How did you become involved in the film business and what has been your career path to your current role as the Executive Director of REBRAFIC?
After working for 20 years as Senior Vice President for the Motion Picture Association of Latin America, I was hired in 2008 by the city and state of Rio de Janeiro to create the Rio Film Commission and operate as its President. In January 2017 I left that position to become the full-time Executive Director of REBRAFIC.
What does your role involve and how long have you been doing it?
I have been running the Brazilian Film Commission Network since its inception in 2015, but only this year have I begun to handle all aspects of its operation on behalf of its 26 members.
What is the Brazilian Film Commission Network and how does it function?
REBRAFIC is the national non-profit film commission association whose objectives include: ensuring a standardised, high level of support for national and international producers, promoting all regions of Brazil as premier locations for national and international productions, and providing information on film commissions from all regions of the country.
The members of REBRAFIC include nine existing, legally-established film commissions, as well as 17 film commissions in the process of formation in 14 states and the federal district. REBRAFIC offers workshops and training programmes as well as many specific benefits to assist its members in developing their operations, creating national and international strategic alliances. These benefits include representation in international markets, advocacy vis-à-vis government film industry agencies, legal advice and representation in the AFCI. REBRAFIC also operates an international referral service which channels requests from international producers to all member film commissions for individual follow-up.
How do you assist foreign production professionals considering Brazil as a filming destination?
REBRAFIC is present in selected international markets to promote filming in Brazil and contacts with member film commissions. This is made possible through the Cinema do Brazil programme, the official government film industry export promotion programme which is funded by the Brazilian export agency, APEX. The other primary tool for promoting filming in Brazil is the referral service mentioned above.
What can you tell us about Brazil as a filming destination?
Brazil is already internationally recognised as a desirable filming site because of its diverse locations as well as numerous icons in Rio de Janeiro, Iguaçu Falls, Bahia, Amazon and Pantanal. Of course, the enormous coastline and beaches are often used by foreign producers as well as small fishing villages and colonial towns.
What locations are most commonly used by foreign productions coming to film in Brazil?
The iconic locations such as Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer Statue, as well as the “favelas” in Rio, continue to be the most popular locations for many foreign producers. With that said, film commissions in REBRAFIC are actively promoting locations all over Brazil, such as the state of Rio Grande do Sul, which offers a kind of Napa Valley wine country, the state of Minas Gerais - which offers a variety of colonial towns and churches, and São Paulo which offers both urban locations and historical sites.
What are the more unusual locations that you have to offer that our readers would not necessarily associate with Brazil?
The surrealistic locations and buildings of Brasilia are perhaps the least well-known, while offering futuristic and sculptured architecture, yet to be discovered by international producers.
What locations worldwide can Brazil easily double for?
Clearly, Brazil can and does double for colonial locations in other Latin American countries such as Mexico. In addition, its beaches and beach towns can double for beaches all over the world.
What are the advantages of filming in Brazil, what makes Brazil film-friendly?
While Brazil is famous for being film-friendly, it is also well-known for its highly experienced local producers, especially in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. In general, labour costs are below international averages and unions are not considered to be an obstacle.
What foreign productions have filmed in Brazil in the past few years?
How many foreign productions shot in Brazil in 2016?
The National Film Agency’s annual report listed 381 foreign productions shot in Brazil in 2016. Most of them, 162 productions in fact, were documentaries. The most produced formats were commercials productions (25), institutional videos (23) and reality shows (12).
Do you offer any ‘incentives’ financial or other for foreign productions considering filming in Brazil?
At present, Brazil does not offer foreign production incentives. It does however, offer several incentives for local content production which may be accessed indirectly by foreign producers via partnerships with local production companies.
What has been your most difficult location assignment or request to date and why?
Scheduling some well known locations such as Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf in Rio, because they are highly popular, have to be carefully planned with plenty of time in advance. Areas of conflict in non-pacified slums, without the police presence, can be very problematic to access.
Are there any particular tips that you would like to share with our readers about filming in your region?
Some events, such as New Year’s beach party and Street Carnival, impact negatively the circulation of vehicles and people, so it is not recommended to schedule a shoot during these events.
What would you recommend crew and cast do to have fun and relax on down days or pre / post shoot?
Take advantage of the beautiful beaches all up and down the Brazilian coastline.
What do you do to chill in Brazil?
Happy Hour at the many seaside bars!
Steve, thank you for your time.
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