Name: Niv Fichman, producer, Rhombus Media
Fernando Meirelles' Blindness is set in an unnamed modern city. Last year, it shot in Sao Paulo for four weeks in October, in Montevideo, Uruguay for one week in September and in Canada for five weeks in August and September
- Why did you shoot in Brazil'
Obviously Meirelles was the main reason, but it turned out that Sao Paulo was the perfect choice because the audience does not identify where it is. When we first got the rights to the book, in 1999, (author) Jose Saramago made it clear he didn't want the film to be set in a specific place. And Sao Paulo is so big and diverse that there are places that look like anywhere in South America or Europe. Some downtown areas are similar to the US.
- Where else did you consider'
Initially, we thought of Shanghai because it isn't one of those metropolises that are easy to recognise on screen, like New York, London or Paris. Saramago, however, wasn't too happy about Shanghai because, no matter what, there would be too many Chinese people on screen. He didn't want to give the impression it was a comment against Chinese communism. It's about all governments.
- Did it turn out to be cheaper than shooting in the US or Canada'
I don't think so. Because we wanted everybody to be equal, Brazilians and Canadians were paid the same. If we had filmed in Brazil in different circumstances, maybe we would have saved some money. But we didn't go there in order to get a deal on a crew. This was an important philosophical point in this co-production.
- What about the financial incentive in Brazil - did it help'
Yes, it did. I didn't know how the system works in Brazil until we contacted Meirelles in 2005. It helped to finance the film, since Brazil and Canada have a co-production agreement. We got all the incentives possible in Canada, and O2 Filmes did the same in Brazil. Actually, I used to think Canada was the best place in the world for financial incentives, but it's kind of equal in Brazil. What nobody knows is there are financial sources in Brazil that can provide up to $3m or $4m.
- How did you find the local crews'
They were fantastic, very enthusiastic and extremely professional. There was never a moment, from pre to post-production, that we wished we had gone somewhere else.
- What advice would you give a non-Brazilian producer working for the first time in Brazil'
There are so many rumours about the lack of safety in Brazil, but we didn't find any of that, maybe because we were guided by O2 Filmes. My advice would be not to listen to any of the rumours, find a good production company and trust it.
- Which person or company was indispensable'
Naturally I would go back to O2 Filmes. I think that we formed a lifelong association on Blindness.
- Is there anything Brazil lacks as an international shooting location'
Maybe on the post side only. Even though Meirelles worked with the best professionals, he said the sound post-production facilities in Brazil are not the same standard as in Canada.
- What did you like most about shooting in Brazil'
I love the spirit of the country, the energy, the people and the feeling that everything is possible.