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10 Tips for Shooting in Rio

Posted by Kim Moseman on June 10, 2018

Often just called “Rio,” this lively city is the metropolitan anchor of Brazil. Known for its famous Carnival festival, Sugarloaf Mountain, and the Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio de Janeiro has plenty to offer any traveling producer. But how should you prepare for a trip to this rambunctious city? We talked to DP Jose A. Sarmento to learn everything you need to know about shooting video in Rio de Janeiro.

1. Safety:

Rio is a beautiful city that is going through a violent time. Sarmento warns to be careful with mobile phones, notebook computers, and video equipment in general. “If you decide to go to the beach, better not carry cell phones, necklaces, rings, or fancy watches,” Sarmento said. “Don’t flash anything valuable that will attract attention.”

2. Language:

The main language spoken in Rio de Janeiro is Portuguese in the Brazilian dialect. Some Spanish will help, as Portuguese has some similarities. “People will be eager to help you and some people may speak some English, especially at hotels, stores, and restaurants,” Sarmento said. It would be beneficial to look over some simple Portuguese phrases before traveling to Rio.

3. Centro:

The downtown scene in Rio de Janeiro has been called the financial heart of the city as well as the crux of the central region. Downtown includes a mix of historical buildings and modern skyscrapers. Capturing video of the museums and the Municipal Theatre are ideal for classic Rio b-roll.

4. Transportation:

Sarmento recommends using taxicabs, Uber, and the subway. It is best not to drive yourself; but if you must, use paid parking garages. “Beware of guys who ask to watch your car for you. They can be trouble,” Sarmento said. “Do not leave anything valuable inside the car, even in the trunk.”

5. Permits:

Permits will vary depending on each assignment, but they are not usually needed for simple shoots. For more information on whether your shoot will require a permit or how to obtain a film permit, click here.

6. Barra da Tijuca:

Usually just referred to as “Barra,” this neighborhood is most well-known for its many lakes and rivers, as well as its American-influenced lifestyle. It is the youngest neighborhood in Rio and was developed roughly 30 years ago. It’s also one of the richest areas in Rio and is best known for its safety. If possible, try to book a hotel in this area.

7. Food:

Rio de Janeiro has a huge variety of traditional cuisine with influences from the Native Indians, African slaves, and Portuguese colonizers. A ‘caipirinha’ is the famous national drink of the city and has cachaça, which is distilled from sugar cane, lime juice, sugar, and crushed ice. “The ‘churrasco’ (barbecue Brazilian style) is also a must for meat lovers,” Sarmento said.

8. Fixer:

If shooting in Rio, it is recommended to get a local fixer. Rio has become very violent, and it’s best to know which areas are safe. A fixer will be your guardian angel and make your visit a pleasant one. “Read a bit about the city on the internet,” Sarmento said. “If you return thinking all these precautions were somewhat exaggerated, it will mean he’s done a good job.”

9. Weather:

On average, temperatures are high. The rainy season is from January to April, so be aware of the possibility of shoots getting rained out. The coolest month is usually August, and December is the driest month. “Dress light and casual,” Sarmento said. “Try not to look like a tourist.”

10. Zona Sul:

Also known as the South Zone of the city, Zona Sul makes up several neighborhoods that offer a lot to Rio. In this region of the city are located most of the beaches and hotels, as well as part of the Tijuca National Park, Sugarloaf Mountain, the Christ the Redeemer statue, and other tourist attractions. Much of your time in Rio will be spent here because of the plentiful opportunities to capture b-roll.

Key Takeaways:

  • • Brush up on your Portuguese to communicate better with the locals of Rio de Janeiro
  • • Hiring a local fixer will make your entire experience in Rio de Janeiro much easier
  • • Take extra precautions in certain areas of the city, as there is a lot of unrest and violence currently taking place.

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