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President Laís Bodanzky Reflects on First Three Years of São Paulo Film Commission

Since its launch in May 2016, the São Paulo Film Commission (Spcine) has assisted on over 2,700 productions: Features, shorts, TV and TV commercials. Those numbers put the metropolis alongside Mexico City as one of Latin America’s most utilized shooting destinations. It currently hosts more than 1,000 productions per year.

In industry terms the city is well equipped to handle major domestic and international productions, and has become a favorite for Netflix Originals including the Wachowskis’ “Sense8,” and Brazil’s “3%” and “Most Beautiful Thing.” The area boasts 3,000 audiovisual dedicated companies, 1,500 production companies and 70 companies devoted to film and TV sound, image, mixing and soundtrack work.

São Paulo rates as one of Latin America’s most global communities as well, with huge populations of citizens from across the globe that have brought their architecture, food, music and art with them. The diversity of the city allows for São Paulo to be used as a stand-in for almost any big city in the world. The city also hosts the world’s largest street Carnaval and LGBT Pride parade, both of which have featured prominently in many major films and series.

Laís Bodanzky, Spcine president –  and one of Brazil’s most prominent women film directors, who made 2017 Berlin competition player “Just Like Our Parents” – talked with Variety ahead of her trip to Cannes where she will promote the city and its industry to the industry throughout  the world.

Can you talk about the major projects which have been backed by Spcine in its first three years?

Brazilian productions of international notoriety which have filmed in São Paulo include Netflix’s “3%,” one of the most watched non-English shows on the platform, and HBO’s “O Negócio,” released simultaneously in 50 countries. The recently launched Netflix Original “Most Beautiful Thing” – set in 1950’s Rio de Janeiro about four friends that opens a Bossa Nova club – filmed most of its scenes in São Paulo, including those set in Rio.

São Paulo is attracting global productions too. The Wachowski sisters’ “Sense8” filmed episodes for its final season at the city’s LGBT Pride Parade (the world’s largest) in 2016. Last year, the team from Netflix’s “Black Mirror” shot scenes for its upcoming season. And, last March, Keanu Reeves came to São Paulo and met with Spcine, the Mayor of the city and the Secretary of Culture and International Relations to negotiate support from the city for filming a new show produced by him.

What advantages does São Paulo offer to productions which shoot there? Are there any tax credits or rebates?

As a relatively new film commission, we are still researching the impact of implementing tax credits and tax and cash rebates to productions that come film to São Paulo.

But what São Paulo already has to offer is a high-quality audiovisual environment with more than 3,000 companies linked to the industry and 1,500 production companies, some of which are specialized in production services for foreign productions, as well as an international infrastructure of restaurants, airports and hotel chains. Spcine also offers a mobile app with more than 400 shoot locations around the city and discounts to film in public locations (from 5% to 95% depending on the type).

CREDIT: Netflix

What are you doing in Cannes this year?

This week, at the Cannes Film Festival, we’re initiating a campaign to promote São Paulo as the film-friendly city that it is. I will be in Cannes to meet with international companies and institutions to present São Paulo as an audiovisual hub to the world. The campaign portrays the diversity of the city of São Paulo. The international productions see in São Paulo all the cities of the world. This cosmopolitan character is the greatest attraction of the city.

What are the major considerations you are making, your plans, for growing Sao Paolo as a film and TV locale, and as a production hub for Brazilian and international projects?

The first step is to make the city and the work of Spcine better known internationally; to show the world what a great place we have to film, but also our potential as an industry and infrastructure to create, produce and distribute films. Brazil is one of the top cinema consumers in the world and São Paulo is bigger than some countries in Europe, so everything that happens here has a wide reach. Brazil also has a government fund ready to finance co-productions, and it’s a benefit for producers from all over the world. We also want to dialogue with other film commissions and carry out bi-lateral partnerships with other cities.

CREDIT: Netflix

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