Cinematographer Azul Serra's Vision: Bringing 'Cangaço Novo' to Life
September 20th, 2023

In the heart of São Paulo's bustling urban life, amidst the chaos, lies the story of Ubaldo, a dispirited bank clerk. Cangaço Novo (New Bandits), captured by cinematographer Azul Serra, takes us on a mysterious and mesmerizing journey into the depths of Ubaldo's life, one that is forever altered when he stumbles upon a forgotten inheritance and the existence of sisters hidden in the rustic hinterlands of Brazil. The narrative unfolds as Ubaldo embarks on a quest to explore this unfamiliar territory, gradually becoming an icon and navigating the turbulent waters of his newfound identity. Cangaço Novo is a tale of destiny, transformation, and the convergence of disparate worlds.

Cinematographer Azul Serra shares his insights into the making of Cangaço Novo. Through his creative lens, Serra offers a glimpse into the innovative techniques and V-RAPTOR camera technology that brought this story to life.

Crafting the Visual Language of Cangaço Novo

At the heart of Cangaço Novo lies the rich tapestry of Brazil's history, particularly the dry interior region of northeastern Brazil known as the Sertão. “We began with creating visual representations of Brazil's history; our first step was to examine our own perceptions of the dry interior region of northeastern Brazil, the Sertão. We questioned the image that had been constructed and portrayed for decades and compared it to the contemporary culture of the countryside.”

Thales Junqueira, the Art Director, played a pivotal role in urging the team to embrace the raw, realistic look of the Sertão without succumbing to aesthetic refinement. The goal was to create a visual concept that truly represented the region's authenticity, employing a first-person point of view and avoiding unusual angles to provide a human perspective.

One notable departure from cinematic norms was the decision to steer clear of the typical yellow or orange hues often associated with warm or exotic locations. The Sertão, like many other places in the world, possesses a unique color palette characterized by beige, sand, gray, and magenta tones during the dry season. Serra and colorist Foca worked diligently to achieve a color correction that authentically mirrored this landscape and avoided unnecessary warmth, “allowing full yellows only during scenes when the sun was low.”

Filming Techniques and Equipment

During the filming process, a key focus was ensuring that the actors felt unburdened by the presence of the camera. To achieve this, the team avoided using marks, elaborate lighting setups, or framing techniques that would draw attention to the technical aspects. Their goal was for the actors to be immersed in their characters and the story.

For the camera and lens selection, a consensus was reached on the use of Large Format to capture the Sertão's breathtaking beauty. “We chose an aspect ratio of 2.35, which is commonly used in Western and Northeastern genres for showing vast landscapes and horizons.” The team's camera of choice was the RED V-RAPTOR 8K VV, which offered greater latitude and highlight protection while remaining compact and lightweight. “It gave a softer, more organic feeling to the images, especially skin tones.”

The lens choice was equally critical to achieving the desired look. After an extensive search, the team settled on Blackwings lenses, which combined modern technology with old glass, resulting in a beautiful texture and flares. Each lens had its own characteristics, such as a magenta tint and distinctive flares, adding a touch of imperfection that contributed to the film's overall aesthetic.

Now the legend of Cangaço Novo (New Bandits) comes to life on Amazon Prime Video. Shot on RED V-RAPTOR 8K VV, KOMODO & DSMC2 MONSTRO 8K by cinematographer Azul Serra and directed by Fábio Mendonça and Aly Muritiba, this captivating series takes viewers on a journey into the heart of Brazil's Sertão.

Cangaço Novo is not just a film; it's a testament to the power of storytelling and the magic of cinema. Azul Serra's dedication to authenticity and his cinematic techniques have created an unforgettable visual experience.

A special thanks to Azul Serra for generously sharing the story of how Cangaço Novo was shot.