Brazil’s economic powerhouse, São Paulo is emerging as a key film-TV player in Brazil’s post-pandemic mix. 

In one move, São Paulo State and City authorities are teaming to power up a new cash rebate for shoots, international and national, to more than four times the endowment of its first edition in 2021. 

Launched last July by Spcine, the city’s go-ahead film commission, the first shoot spend rebate in Brazil had a total annual budget of $1.6 million. This time round, now also backed by São Paulo State, 2022’s endowment will come in at R$40 million, $8 million at current exchange rates.

Given a return of 20%-30% of expenditure that will make $36 million of various titles’ shoot spend in São Paulo eligible for the rebate program.

In a second initiative, São Paulo State Secretary of Culture Sergio Sá Leitão has launched a São Paulo Creative Economy Internationalization Program, part of the State’s Creative SP initiative. This will sponsor 10 companies’ attendance at the Cannes Film Market as one of nine commercial missions to events of strategic importance for São Paulo creative industries. The program kicked off at March’s SXSW.

The most important facet of 2022’s cash rebate is that it has been renewed and increased – a stability and forward-going trajectory appreciated by the world’s biggest companies as they study where to shoot their next titles.  

The new cash rebate also looks set to maintain most of the major features of its 2021 edition, which was open to feature films in fiction and animation and TV series in fiction, animation or reality genres. 

2021’s inaugural rebate also offered a maximum 30% return for productions’ hiring of women, as well as Black, indigenous and transgender people for key positions. “Diversity and sustainability come in to make sure that more equitable film productions are selected,” said Viviane Ferreira, Spcine president.

But it will now be extended to the whole of  state. “Sao Paulo the city is an extraordinary metropolis like New York or London,” said Sá Leitão. “But São Paulo has so many different landscapes, beaches, islands and mountains and historical heritage sites and very different kinds of cities which can be used to portray different historical periods.” 

The partners hope to have the new rebate up and running by June or July.

Last year’s first rebate went to three titles, two high-end series and a feature film. 

An around-the-year initiative, São Paulo’s State international outreach program includes follow-up to each business mission and the creation of a network of creative companies from different sectors which will meet once a month, said Sá Leitão. 

Companies were selected out of 150 applications, mixing two large enterprises – RT Features, Coração da Selva – three medium-sized firms, including Maria Farinha Films, producer of Globoplay hit “Aruanas,” and five start-ups.

Creative SP and Cinema do Brazil will host SP Day, a networking event, at their joint Marché du Film stand on May 19.

Leveraging creative industries as one road to post-pandemic economic recovery, both State and City stress the economic knock-ons of their film-TV initiatives.

“São Paulo’s creative industries are booming right now,” said Sá Leitão, adding that they account for 3.9% of the state GDP. Companies from Sao Paulo generate 47% of Brazil’s creative economy GDP.

However, São Paulo State’s creative economy lost something like 240,000 of its 1.5 million jobs during the pandemic. The State is upping its direct investment in the sector from $200 million to $300 million a year. 

“So we are trying to increase our investments in order to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and of course, to stimulate and accelerate the recovery,” Sá Leitão said.

The rebate will “foster the city’s economy in several sectors, not just the audiovisual one. That’s the magic of the creative economy and why it’s one of our city’s top priorities,” said Ricardo Nunes, São Paulo mayor.

The first rebate helped to create or maintain 14,000 jobs, SP Cine announced Wednesday. 

Pre-pandemic, Brazil’s financial capital served as one of the backdrops to the Keanu Reeves-produced dystopian sci-fi series “Conquest” as well as “Black Mirror” episode “Striking Vipers,” Amazon Prime’s “September Mornings”and the Wachowskis’ “Sense8.” 

São Paulo already hosts offices of Netflix, Amazon, HBO Max and Disney Plus, among others. An analysis by London-based consultancy Olsberg SPI anticipates continued industrial growth of at least 5%-10% per annum over a five-year period starting in 2022.

Spcine and the Municipal Secretary of Culture are “working to build partnerships with audiovisual industry players from below-the-line professionals to big producers and other above-the-line professionals that work in constant exchange with the international market,” said Aline Torres, São Paulo City secretary of culture.