tight budget, opening ceremony adopts 'MacGyver' approach
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[August 05, 2016]
By Mary Milliken and Brad Haynes
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Pulling
together an Olympics opening ceremony in the midst of a deep
recession required what Brazil's organizers called "MacGyverism" and
a lot of bargain hunting at a popular Rio bazaar.
The three Brazilian filmmakers and creative minds behind Friday's
ceremony to open South America's first Olympic Games, said they drew
on their country's rich tradition of stretching a little cash a long
"We had a budget way below what you would expect for an event of
this type, but we are pretty used to working this way," said Daniela
Thomas, a filmmaker who spoke with pride of the mix of thriftiness
and creativity that Brazilians call "gambiarra".
"It's like MacGyverism," she added, a reference to the 1980s
American TV show featuring Angus MacGyver, a resourceful secret
agent who assembled ingenious devices from everyday objects.
Performing at the famed Maracana soccer stadium presented all sorts
of logistical challenges too, such as low seating and small
entrances that ruled out big stages or Carnival floats. The only
high-tech splurge was for the show's video projections.
Given the low-tech budget, Thomas said they looked back at how the
Greeks, the inventors of the Games, created "analogue" performances
in ancient times. They wanted to learn how to enchant an audience -
50,000 in the stadium and some three billion people via television -
over three hours.
Brazilian music, including the samba and drumming made famous by Rio
de Janeiro's Carnival celebrations, will feature prominently, and
all artists agreed to perform without pay.
While the Rio 2016 organizing committee has not said how much the
ceremony cost, it is believed to be about half of the $42 million
spent by London in 2012.
Brazil is in the midst of its worst recession since at least the
1930s, aggravated by a political crisis that has suspended the
elected president for an impeachment trial this month.
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An aerial view shows the Christ the Redeemer statue with the
Maracana stadium, where the opening cermony of the Rio 2016 Olympic
Games will be held, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 16, 2016.
"I think it is very right for this moment in Brazil and the world
not to have a big show and opulent ceremony," said executive
producer Marco Balich.
Andrucha Waddington, another film director working on the ceremony,
said they spent a lot of time buying supplies in Saara, "a market
where Jews and Muslims work together and sell very, very cheap
In studying past opening ceremonies, the filmmakers said they would
get depressed watching the 2008 spectacle in Beijing, an event that
raised the bar for host cities due to its sheer scale and precision.
Still, they said nothing would compare with the Brazilian soul of
Friday's big show.
"Athens was about the classics, Beijing was grandiose and muscular,
London was smart, and ours - ours will be cool," said Fernando
Meirelles, the director who made a Rio slum famous in the film "City
(Writing by Mary Milliken; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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