Brazil ’19 started out in theory as an episodic series detailing the nature of special forces and its history across the world. As time progressed over the course of my final semester at Shepherd, I realized it would be more practical to create a more condensed product than that. When I finally started drafting a script, which was just after Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil’s president) had made a visit to the US, I chose Brazil.
In the US, crime novels and TV thrillers based on drug wars in Latin America are popular. I would say the most notable example of that is the Netflix series, Narcos, starring Pedro Pascal, and in the more recent edition of the show, Narcos: Mexico, featuring Diego Luna and Michael Peña. Our relationship with countries south of the border is rocky; I think we can all agree on that. Americans are bombarded with mainstream news coverage concerning the Mexico-United States barrier (Border Wall), and controversy concerning the mass migration of populations from Spanish-speaking countries.
It becomes easy then, to almost completely overlook Brazil, a country that has completely turned around from a recession in a short amount of time, and is projected to have rapid GDP growth in the next couple of years by the UN and the OECD.
Brazil has unique traits that make it a worthwhile study piece.
- It has the largest population of any country south of the Equator.
- It has mineral and agricultural resources comparable to the US.
- It has more fresh water than any other country on Earth.
- It exports more coffee than anywhere else in the world (which was of immense help during the production of this film).
These factors will all help Brazil become an energy capital in South America and potentially the world in due time.
It’s important then, for potential entrepreneurs who wish to deal in Brazil to understand the nature of Brazil’s politics. The election of Jair Bolsonaro, a staunch conservative and devout Catholic, marks an important transition.
ABOUT THE FILM
Brasil’ 19 is a YouTube video currently viewable at the link here.
The video has a runtime of 17:42 (minutes, seconds). The video’s script was, for the most part, finished, when the film was edited in Premiere. The script is 1,802 words long, about the length of a 5-page essay.
The video starts with presidents Trump and Bolsonaro giving speeches on the White House lawn on the 19th of March, 2019. CNN’s Jeff Acosta describes Trump’s propensity to call the mainstream press “fake news” and Bolsonaro’s usage of the term as the spread of “a virus.” I juxtaposed this comparison to the same words used by a narcotrafficker in the major Brazilian city of Rio De Jainero that was interviewed by VICE News, who states that cocaine is “a virus,” to show different perspectives on the wording.
In the video, I try to paint a picture that is fair, but also succinct as possible. I explain why Brazil is an emerging economy, attributed to its abundant natural resources and robust business infrastructure. I explain the nature of Brazil’s economic challenges too, which are attributed largely to its exceedingly mountainous terrain, as well as its grappling with drug crime in its major cities. I go explain Brazil’s diplomatic efforts with its neighbors to combat illegal smuggling, as well as the nature of “pacification” efforts by Brazilian police. A focal point of my research was the collective effort of the Rio De Jainero State Police and Batallion of Special Operations, known as BOPE, of which our closest equivalent would be SWAT.
I also go into the political underbelly shadowing Bolsonaro, including his boisterous manner of conversing that has made his detractors liken him to a “Tropical Trump.” His comments directed towards women and particularly towards people in the LGBT community in Brazil have been met with great disdain. Despite this, Bolsonaro is more popular than ever. After narrowly escaping a stabbing attempt with his life months prior to the final round of elections, he won the popular vote by 56% and retains a large following of young people. His behavior may be comparable to Trump, but his voting base is not, and I believe whether one likes him or not, he will be a pivotal anchor in the history of Brazil going into the 21st century.
MAKING THE FILM
The film was edited and produced in the Adobe software programs Premiere, Photoshop, Audition, and After Effects. I have been working with the Adobe suite for years. It’s not really a matter of personal preference anymore as much as it is a matter of familiarity.
I like working in visuals, especially for projects like this. They can help change the monotonous pace of a script while also conveying important talking points.
If you like closely in the accompanying visuals, you will find that the Brazilian flag and American Great Seal are absent. This is because I switched them off in Photoshop. Just about every graphic in the video is comprised of multiple layers, which allowed me to manipulate them in Premiere to create visual effects of motion and appearance set to the film’s script.
The film also incorporates a great deal of found footage from a wide range of sources, all of which had been uploaded to YouTube, which was important, for me, because since I was uploading the finished product on YouTube, the content in it needed to be “safe.”
At some points I let the visuals and the music do the talking. I made a particular note to do this in a sequence showcasing the urban gunfighting of cops in Rio with gang members. A journalist attached to this particular unit follows them on their mission. The scenes resemble that of a war zone, but they’re not special forces, they’re regular cops, armed with fully automatic rifles. That’s how intense the fighting can get.
I probably had the most fun with this project compiling music. Brazil is famous for “samba,” All of the music in the film with lyrics is Brazilian. The only music that doesn’t come from games under the Tom Clancy license, one of which from Rainbow Six: Siege, the other, from Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Siege is a game about police raids, and features music fit for a crime thriller, whereas Ghost Recon takes place in a fictional account of Bolivia, where the main characters are part of a mystery plot to take down a drug lord, so it features somber hints of Spanish guitar that complimented a film based in Latin America.
The rest of the music is a mix of classic Brazilian jazz and samba, as well as more modern tracks by a rock band I actually quite like, Vivendo do Ocio (I’d describe them as a Brazilian version of The Strokes), as well as a rap track from Fast Five, Desabafo (old school hip-hop was still alive in 2009). Here’s the mix.
It was a refreshing breath of fresh air to work on a YouTube project that was a bit more serious in tone than my usual fare. I wanted, above all, to present a project that would showcase my ability to create not only visually compelling content but also informative and insightful content. I chose a part of the world that doesn’t seem to get that much news coverage, and hopefully, this video will give the average passerby a critical insight into the current political situation in Brazil and how it relates to its security.
I believe that international businesses in the future will have to start taking Brazil a little more seriously, and regardless of where one stands politically, a lot of is going to have to do with this guy.
He sure seems optimistic at the very least.
Check out my YouTube channel here.
Black and white Bolsonaro headshot photo credit: “jair-bolsonaro-2”by FotosBolsonaro is licensed under CC PDM 1.0