If São Paulo state were a country, its 47 million population would make it the third largest in South America: Only the rest of Brazil and Colombia are larger.
From the turn of the century, it has consolidated ever more as Brazil’s artistic powerhouse, growing to represent 50% of Brazil’s creative industries GDP, said Secretary of Culture and Creative Economy Marília Marton at Cannes Marché du Film.
Audiovisual production is in São Paulo’s DNA, she told Variety. “As some other sectors decline, creative industries have a large potential of returns, employment and a market future, so our idea is to grow and broaden the audiovisual market,” she explained.
How Marton does this really matters. Her appointment, announced in December, coincides with one of the biggest upticks in public-sector funding in film and TV history, with Brazilian President’s Lula Inácio Lula da Silva’s new federal government, which took office on Jan. 1, plowing nearly $1 billion in 2023 alone into film, TV, video games and other AV sectors.
That cash influx will turn Brazil into the powerhouse of Latin America. Its policies will impact not only the country but the whole of the region.
On May 11, in the run-up to Cannes, a Paulo Gustavo Law released R$3.8 billion ($769 million) for Brazil’s culture, of which 70%, R$2.8 billion ($567 million) is destined for audiovisual sectors, channelled to Brazil’s states and cities, in a drive for decentralization.
Marton has met with representatives of the audiovisual sector and launched an open call for applications for funding proposals. These have to be made this week, she says.
Several issues are already clear. In 2022, São Paulo State and City teamed to launch in a pioneering political partnership a second cash rebate for shoots. At the Marché du Film last week, Marton and Viviane Ferreira, president-director of Spcine, the São Paulo City film commission, jointly announced a call for applications for a second-phase of São Paulo’s pioneering cash rebate program targeting international, non-Portuguese- language productions.
Approximately $5.1 million will be available for the second phase, with the cap per project raised from the first phase to now approximately $3 million per title.
Marton would like to go further. When she was appointed by new state governor Tarcísio de Freitas, he asked her to turn the whole state of São Paulo into a film shoot hub, she recalls.
“In the state you have beaches, mountains, forests, everything cities to shoot, you don’t need sets,” Marton enthuses. That said, cities which aim to become international movie-TV show shoot magnets will have to create attractions, such as tax breaks, she adds.
Not all, however, is fiscal relief. “You don’t make culture without use of public-sector money,” she told top Brazilian newspaper Folha. Growth rests on three pillars, she told Variety: “Professional training along the production chain of value; promotion of São Paulo State production; and funding.”
Potential aid recipients for culture support run a broad gamut: the audiovisual, theater and music sectors, even circus troupes. São Paulo state is home to 300 circus families, Marton says with a smile. She is mindful too of the large majority of people in the state which lives outside São Paulo city, despite its status as the second biggest metropolis in South America.
There’s a lack of make-up artists or lighting technicians in towns outside São Paulo city, she suggested to Folha. One option is to encourage companies in the city to bring workers from the interior. “Working here [in São Paulo] is like a post-doctorate,” she said.