On The Beat and Path Episode Blog
Season Two, Episode Two
Filmed: December 17th – Jan 3rd, 2011
Locations of Shoot: Camburi Beach, Sao Paolo, Brazil
Brazil marked a few firsts for us. It was the first time the On The Beat and Path crew traveled to South America and it was the first time that we were taking a ‘holiday’ since we started production on the show in July. Many can argue that our existence is a holiday as we travel far and wide to meet musicians and play music and frolic on the beach and for the most part, I won’t argue. It has been an extraordinary project and we have been blessed with the generous people we have met and the music we have discovered. That said, everyone needs a holiday:
If you have never been to Brazil, it is only appropriate to have certain lofty expectations about what awaits you. For myself it was the bikini, or what I had hoped, the lack there of. Much has been spoken about the Brazilian string bikini: it’s sexyness, lack of lycra and the spawning of a hair removal system inspired by the look. Much has been spoken and much has been imagined. We were to be on the beaches of Camburi and surrounding area for the first few weeks so I was on the cusp of witnessing the fruition of my imagination.
Here’s the deal with imagination: unless you are Tim Burton or High Hefner, they rarely become reality (and even if you are the aforementioned gentlemen, often you reality can achieve a little stink). While there was nothing whatsoever to complaing about whilst strolling the Brazillian beaches, it did become quickly evident that more material was being used in the manufacture of local swimsuits. That said, we were there to also witness music and the arts so I have already spent too much time documenting the domestic swimwear.
Our first shoot was with Macadonian born, American raised, Brazil based dancer and movement specialist Paolo Blanton. Paola helped out a local NGO providing programs for disadvantaged youth. Projeto Ativo provided art classes, music lessons, sports programs and now dance for the local kids. Our arrival to the clubhouse was overwhelming. The kids were milling about, involved in their own activities before we arrived. Our entrance brought immediate attention as Paola never takes too long to get in to character. Dressed in her Angel wardrobe, Paola flew throughout the grounds as children chased her, danced with her, hugged her, laughed with her and circled her awaiting their turn to entertain. When it was the kids’ turn, they created a massive circle decorated the perimimeter of the grounds. One of the adult volunteers grabbed a beat up guitar while the kids prepared for the Christmas concert.
It was as though they had been waiting for this opportunity for week as their well-timed, choreographed performance was wonderfully produced. One by one, local Brazilian folk songs were mixed with traditional Christmas carols. Everyone was given a chance to shine. It wasn’t as though we had an exclusive engagement and within an hour we were on our way out as it was time for the kids to get their weekly martial arts lesson. You can see how hard it was for us to leave here:
Our two weeks at the beach provided incredible meals and shirtless dudes in convertible jeeps (think a much more gay, South American Melrose Place). While it was difficult to leave the coast, it was Sao Paolo, a city of 22 million inhabitants where we were going to get the majority of our footage.
The term Urban Sprawl must have been created from the observed development of Sao Paolo. The city just seems to go on and on. A location four kilometers away could take you five minutes or five hours. One never knows. Luckily, we were visiting during the holiday season, a time when six million locals traditionally leave the city. Six million leave! That is more than the populations of Brunei, Fiji, Malta, Estonia, Trinidad & Tobago, Belize and Guyana combined.
So with 23 days in Brazil, how long do we devote to shooting in Sao Paolo? Two days. Yikes. Talk about pressure, reminiscent of our time in Bangkok shooting our first pilot episode in 48 hours. So on our first day in Sao Paolo, Gary and I hit the streets. Firstly it’s impossible not to notice the grafitti that decorates the entire city. There are a lot of ghetto tags with extremely limited artistic integrity. But for every poorly thought out scrawl, there is an intricately painted mural demonstrating a myriad of graffiti styles: tags, celebrity graffiti, surreal fiction, elaborate scenic murals, anime, the list goes on. We tried to capture it all here:
We stopped for lunch at a traditional Fejuada joint. Fejuada has it’s origins in the favelas. It is a stew of beans and all the parts of the pig that weren’t used for traditional meals: ears, feet, tongues…you know, the good stuff. Of course nowadays, many assume that people may not want to eat pig tongue and so they offer Fejuada as a buffet with some of the more traditional parts of swine. Regardless, it is still delicious. Gary introduces us to Fejuada here:
When it was my turn to feast, I was approached by a gentleman in line. This was a treat as not many locals in Brazil speak English so I welcomed the opportunity to speak with someone from Sao Paolo. “Are you creating a music documentary”, the stranger inquired. I assumed that he had already spoken with Gary who was already back at his seat. This was not the case.
“Yes”, I replied.
My new friend proceeded to tell me a little about himself which was instantly astonishing. Antonio Pinto was a musician, composer and ran a production studio in Sao Paolo. “Have you ever seen City of God?” Of course I have seen City of God. Great film and one of Brazil’s greatest film exports. “I composed the music for that film”. He was humble and it wasn’t until I did some research on him myself that I discovered he also composed music for Hollywood blockbusters such as Collateral and Lord of War (regrettably movies that star my least favourite actors on the planet in Cruise and Cage respectively).
Pinto invited us (well it would be more appropriate to note that we invited ourselves) to his studio where he shared with us some of the incredible projects he has been involved with which includes production of an album starring a Brazilian drug lord and an album of songs by kids for kids with accompanying animated videos. Brilliant stuff.
Our final stop before our midnight flight back to Malaysia was a stop at a local Carnival Club. Carnival is a massive festival, Brazil’s largest and is held 40 days before Easter. The country essentially shuts down as costumed dancers and musicians parade the street celebrating their culture. Our invitation allowed us to witness the club’s percussion practice. The enclosed warehouse-like space erupted in a rhythmic succession of beats that easily hypnotized us and kept us amazing as the conductor brought the band through their set list and kept them in unison throughout their choreographed movement sequence. As you can probably guess, we filmed it:
Before we hit the airport, we stopped to gorge on limitless meat at a churrascaria. This is an unimaginable display of carnivorical delight as the most scrumptious cuts of beed, lamb, chicken and pork paraded themselves by our table via exceptionally polite waiters. A small coaster like device, one side red and one side green, notified our desire for seconds (thirds, fourths, fifths, etc.).
Next trip sees the On The Beat and Path crew traveling to Sumatra and the Volcanic Island of Samosir in Lake Toba. Not to be missed.
Catch Us Live Somewhere On This Planet.