On tight budget, opening ceremony adopts 'MacGyver' approach

Fri Aug 5, 2016 3:30am EDT
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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 way.

"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.   Continued...

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. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/Files