On the Set of Stephen Daldry's 'Trash' in Rio: Stray Dogs and a Massive Garbage Dump

Stephen Daldry - P 2012
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Stephen Daldry - P 2012

A huge artificial landfill was built to shoot Richard Curtis' script based on Andy Mulligan's novel about three boys who pick garbage for a living.

RIO DE JANEIRO – A gravel mine was turned into a huge, artificial landfill for Oscar nominee Stephen Daldry’s latest film, Trash – and The Hollywood Reporter was recently on set to see it first hand.

Currently filming in Rio de Janeiro, the film stars Martin Sheen, Rooney Mara, Wagner Moura, Selton Mello, and newcomers Gabriel Weinstein, Rickson Tevez and Eduardo Luis.

A co-production by Working Title, Fernando Meirelles’ O2 Filmes, and PeaPie Films, Trash is a contemporary thriller (although S Daldry tells THR it's a “a kid story”) about of three boys, (Raphael, Grado and Rat) who live in a garbage dump. The discovery of a wallet with a treasure map inside sets the boys on an unexpected adventure in which they will have to fight powerful enemies.

STORY: Stephen Daldry Attends Rio de Janeiro Slum Screening of 'Billy Elliot'

THR visited the set in the Jacarepagua area of Rio de Janeiro last Thursday. Producer Kris Thykier said they built the massive landfill, rather than use an actual trash dump, in order to have a tighter control over the space and protect the cast and crew from risks of contamination.

Two thousand cubic meters of recyclable material, including car bodies, was used to build the dump on a club and gravel mine six months ago. The story featured in Andy Mulligan’s book also demanded the slum be over a lake. Since no lakes were found near the area, the art team led by Tulé Peake found water sources to fill up a huge lake they dug themselves.

Fish were added to prevent mosquito proliferation, Thykier told THR, and local stray dogs showed up every day on the set and made the fake dump their home. Also, real animal carcasses were placed on top of the garbage mountain to attract vultures. According to Thykier, rats and cockroaches will be used for the scenes at Rat’s home -- a shed including pipes and fake sewage.

With only nine more days to finish shooting, the scenes in Rat’s shed will be the last ones to be shot because the entire area will need to be flooded. Other Rio locations for the film include a house in Barra da Tijuca, and several neighborhoods, including Vidigal and Tavares Bastos.

Meirelles said that from a production standpoint, “Trash is more of a Brazilian film than an English one."

"It is totally shot in Rio de Janeiro and 90 percent spoken in Portuguese, and one which resolves around themes we deal with here on a daily basis: unprotected children, corruption and the struggle for political power at any cost,” he said. “The possibility of seeing these issues through the perspective of a director who is not directly involved in them will be very enlightening, and still even more so when the director happens to be Stephen Daldry, who is an extremely talented director, knows how to listen and incorporate ideas and situations that he sees in his surroundings."

Trash was one of the co-production cases studied Saturday morning at the RioMarket -- the Rio Film Festival’s industry sidebar -- where Thykier and O2’s Andrea Barata Ribeiro discussed legal aspects and processes involved in producing the film. 

The Rio Film Festival closes Oct. 9.