Despite its beautiful scenery and cheap costs, Brazil's violent image has hampered it in attracting international productions. This is something the newly created Brazilian Film Commissions Association (Abrafic) hopes to rectify.

Set up last November and made up of 13 regional commissions, the organisation has been developing a strategic plan to make Brazilian locations more competitive.

'South Africa, where the number of crimes is higher, managed to surpass the problem by creating favourable conditions for international producers,' says Ana Cristina Costa E Silva, president of Abrafic.

While Brazil currently allows international producers to deduct up to 3% of income tax owed provided they use a Brazilian co-producer and some Brazilian crew, Abrafic is hoping further incentives will be introduced soon.

Brazil Estudios already has international-standard studios and labs, such as Estudios Mega, MegaColor and Teleimage, which is considered the pioneer in post-production in HD, data, 2K and 4K in Brazil and across Latin America.

'Brazil has a tremendous capacity that is not being realised,' says Bill Haynes, president and executive producer of Figure 8 Films in the US, who has shot documentaries in the country, including Miracle Man: John Of God (2005).

While Brazil's mix of races can make for interesting casting opportunities, the difficulty for foreign producers is finding crew with experience on big-budget international productions.

'Titles like City Of God got our directors, cinematographers and crews finally recognised. But what we really need now is a larger number of professionals fluent in English and other languages and a better sense of co-operation in the unions,' says Costa e Silva. 'Our cheap labour costs could place us in a privileged position compared to our competitors.'

'Shooting in Brazil saves 30% over the US'
Brazil is already hosting smaller-scale international films. John Stockwell's Turistas shot for two months on location in Bahia and Ubatuba on the coast of Sao Paulo in 2005. Kent Kubena, the film's co-executive producer found the local crew 'extremely spirited and hard working', despite some language difficulties.

'The jungles, beaches, caves and waterfalls were also beautiful, which made it all an amazing experience,' he says. Sao Paulo, along with the Amazon and Rio de Janeiro, are the country's most popular shooting locations. He was equally impressed by how cheap it was. 'We probably saved around 30% by shooting the movie in Brazil as opposed to the US.'

Further international productions set to shoot in Brazil soon include Indranil Chakravarty's Tamarindo from India, Garibaldi In America from Italian director Alberto Rondalli, Murilo Pasta's English-Spanish co-production Carmo, and Spanish production Epoxi from director Ricardo Akershtein.