This article is adapted from AQ’s print issue on piracy in Latin America. To see the rest of our list, click here. | Leer en español
Making movies as an Afro-Brazilian can pose unique challenges.
“It can be dangerous for a black man to walk around Rio with a piece of equipment that can be taken for a weapon,” said Hugo Lima. At first, the 30-year-old filmmaker and inventor covered his gear with African prints. But then he began using a 3D printer to make camera holders and other equipment in bright colors, which he rented to colleagues.
“This is not something that regular equipment-makers would need to worry about, but many of my clients are black filmmakers and many from the favelas. We need to be extra cautious.”
Knowing the needs of his underserved clientele, and having a background in electronics and engineering, has helped Lima produce a number of innovations. His first creation came when he started directing videos depicting Afro-Brazilians. He told AQ that “the biggest challenge when filming black people is lighting,” and having to shoot a scene, he quickly built his own LED panel. Since then, Lima has developed and built more sophisticated components, such as a remote-controlled slider to help move his camera.
“Everything I make comes out of a need,” Lima said. His favorite creation is a connector to mount an umbrella on top of the camera, to protect him from Rio’s blazing tropical sun.
“I was always a tinkerer,” he said. Lima laughed out loud remembering his childhood in a lower-middle class neighborhood when he would destroy his siblings’ toys. “I wanted to know how things were made!”
Lima said he would really like to patent his creations and protect his ideas, but for now that is a far-fetched dream. “Just to start with attorneys to see if it can be patented I need 10,000 reais (about $2,500). That is a deal breaker.”
Tornaghi is managing editor at AQ