The booming Brazilian production sector after the crisis
In breathtaking intrigue, the health of Brazil’s independent film and TV production sector has gone from the worst crisis in 30 years to an unprecedented boom.
The growth is fueled by commissions from streaming platforms such as Netflix, local Globoplay, Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max, and more recently the “resurrection” of the federal incentive body Fundo Setorial do Audiovisual (FSA).
“We have never produced so much in the history of Brazil,” said director Paulo Sergio Almeida, director of marketing and research firm Filme B. Variety.
The scenario today is radically different from that of 2019, when the National Film Agency (Ancine) all but paralyzed funding for the FSA, by far the main local incentive. The Federal Court of Auditors (TCU) ordered the halt, due to alleged shortcomings in Ancine’s system of auditing expenditure for productions subsidized with FSA coins.
The same year, the extreme right Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil. Following in the footsteps of Donald Trump, whom he publicly acclaimed, Bolsonaro has waged a war against “leftist” filmmakers and artists in general. First he threatened to shut down Ancine, then he delayed appointments to key posts in the agency and on FSA boards and committees, which kept the fund paralyzed.
Then came the pandemic, which shut down venues and sets, creating a perfect storm for the industry. The perception then was that this was the deepest crisis since 1990, when the federal government shut down production and distribution agency Embrafilme. Since then, new incentive mechanisms and the creation of Ancine have rebuilt the industry, whose production has grown from no open films to 169 Brazilian feature films released in theaters in 2019, still mirroring pre-Central production. crisis.
But the pandemic has also had the positive effect of stimulating the expansion of streaming platforms and the appetite of international platforms for the Brazilian market of more than 220 million people.
Here, the big global players face competition from Globoplay, the streaming platform of giant local media group Globo, which has telenovelas and other shows made in-house and also commissions from independent producers.
International streaming companies know they need local Portuguese-language content to strengthen their positions in the Brazilian market. Led by Netflix, they are increasingly ordering series, feature films and other television programs. In 2021, Netflix launched 18 original Brazilian productions: nine films, three series, three documentaries and three reality shows.
Streaming has kept some independent production companies from operating during the pandemic, especially those with a tradition of making commercial series and feature films. But auteur film producers bled.
Then, in mid-2021, the Brazilian Senate finally approved the nominations of three directors for Ancine’s four-person board. As Ancine is legally independent from the federal executive, the new board decided to relaunch the FSA.
The good news is that the FSA, during the lockdown imposed by the Bolsonaro administration, continued to collect a fraction of every phone bill paid in the country and other contributions, as stipulated in its creation by Congress. As payments have been scarce over the past four years, the FSA has accumulated a large amount of money and Ancine has pledged to release a total of 5 billion reais ($920 million) over the next five years. years.
Ancine has already opened the application period for two FSA lines for the production of feature films. There will eventually be other lines for film, television and VOD production, distribution, development, international co-production, P&A, games and other types of content.
The agency also announced that it would streamline other incentive mechanisms, such as a tax shelter system for Hollywood majors that invest in local feature film productions.
The expansion of the Brazilian production sector is thus based on two strong pillars: private investments from streaming platforms and incentive coins. This seems to be the scenario for years to come.
On the streaming side, Netflix will apparently continue to lead the investment.
“After five years of production in Brazil, we have solidified our partnership with the local entertainment industry and strengthened our ties with the Brazilian creative community to produce more and more stories that reflect the country’s cultural diversity,” said Elisabetta Zenatti, vice president of content for Netflix Brazil. Recount Variety.
She added that Netflix is currently making 26 new Brazilian films, series, documentaries and realities, which are in various stages of production. The list includes the feature film “Vizinhos”, a comedy by Roberto Santucci, the director with the highest accumulated soundtrack in Brazil, “De volta aos 15”, a series for teenagers with Maisa Silva e Camila Queiroz, the series of horror “Olhar indiscreto” and reality “Queer Eye Brasil.
The best local production companies are busy. “Conspiracao produced a total of 16 TV series, feature films, documentaries and non-fiction TV shows in 2021, and we plan to double the production volume this year. We are experiencing a boom in entertainment production in Brazil. This unprecedented volume of content shows the maturity and capacity of our industry,” said Renata Brandao, CEO of leading production company Conspiracao. Variety.
Two highlights of Conspiracao are “Dom”, a series directed by Breno Silveira in its second season on Amazon Prime Video, and “Under Pressure”, a feature film and series in its fifth season on Globoplay, which is also streaming on the Globo TV broadcaster.
O2 Filmes is currently filming seven series for streaming platforms, including “Pico da Neblina” and “Nevoa” for HBO Max, Andrea Barata Ribeiro, partner in the business and executive producer, said: “As Brazil is a strategic market , the trend is that streaming platforms will produce more and more here.We have a number of new projects lined up for the second half of the year.
The production of arthouse/festival feature films is also gradually resuming. Ilda Santiago, director of the Rio International Film Festival, mentions “Fogareu” by Flavia Neves, which opens the Berlinale Panorama, “Regra 34” by Julia Murat, “Mars One” by Gabriel Martins, which premiered at Sundance, “Tia Virginia” by Fabio Meira and “Paloma” by Marcelo Gomes.
Traditional production company LC Barreto is finishing “Vovo Ninja,” director Bruno Barreto’s new feature, which is due to hit theaters mid-year. Paula Barreto, partner and director of the firm, said Variety they are working on several other film and television projects, including “Deus ainda e brasileiro”, the next feature film by veterinarian Caca Diegues.
Paula Barreto, expressing a widespread complaint among Brazilian producers, criticizes the lack of local regulation for streaming platforms.
Unlike what happens to productions funded by local incentives, Brazilian producers, like in many parts of the world, do not retain the rights to the content they create for streaming. The unfair balance in the negotiations allows the global streaming giants to keep all rights to everything produced here.
“When it comes to producing for streaming, we have lost our independence. We no longer own the rights to what we make. We have become mere product service providers,” Barreto said. Variety.