Los Angeles, a first destination
After finishing my studies in Fine Arts, I found myself walking in different directions. What if I started painting? Or teaching... Finally I ended up working for a director who developed advertising projects. I remember the dossiers in which I presented references of all kinds: photos, fashion drawings, color palettes. It was a short chapter in my life that brought me back to the sets and taking an active part in shootings. Thus came the day when I knew clearly what my vocation was and decided to train myself to be a director of photography. It was a decision that changed my life —and ultimately made me travel to Los Angeles.
There are many different options to study cinematography in Los Angeles. Among them, I was fortunate enough to join the American Film Institute, a place where many relevant professionals have trained, including the Spaniards Juan Ruiz Anchia, Flavio Martinez and Antonio Calvache Labiano. The AFI, on the other hand, has a reputation as a one of the greatest in creating good technicians: it matched my expectations and was a salutary lesson, as I had to work around the clock for two years. I attended endless workshops, watched films explained by their authors, learned through lighting classes and good professionals. I have a feeling that those were the fastest two years of my life. Tirelessly and with the idea of having taken advantage of a great opportunity. Not only because the AFI instilled in me a level of requirement very close that of professional shootings, but also through the chance of meeting many people who, like me, are aspiring cinematographers, as well as future writers, directors, production managers...
Once outside, having graduated in an American school gave me the right to work in the United States for at least one year: a working visa as professional training. Twelve months seem enough to be integrated in a glimmer of the industrial system... but it’s not. My first jobs were quite basic. Sometimes I worked as Director of Photography. Some others, I worked as gaffer, helping the director of photography... I had to meet two main goals. The first one: to slowly create a reel of images from my work. The second: to survive in the best of spirits. I remember that first year working as a difficult but very useful one. I gained experience that helped me reaffirm the idea of being a director of photography with all its consequences.
My first jobs, some professional contacts, the graphic and written information about me and my work as Director of Photography served as documentary basis for the American administration to extend the deadline of my stay here. Consequently, I’ve continued to progress professionally here making documentaries, rolling shorts that have had an impact at festivals and shooting commercial spots that have helped me survive economically. Hopefully soon, these and other jobs will open up the door for a membership in the International Cinematographers Guild, and I’ll be able to get in the market of bigger shootings.
During these years I’ve had the opportunity to meet and connect in LA with Spanish people who work and collaborate on issues related to cinema. Thanks to that connection an idea arose: that the gathering of all of us, with our experience and contacts, could have the strength to create and consolidate a film production company. LA Panda was born, and soon after its foundation we co-produced my friend and partner Carlos Marques Marcet’s first film, 10,000 km, together with Lastor Media. We also co-produced Nacho Vigalondo’s Open Windows with Apaches Entertainment, the documentary Next directed by my friend and partner Elia Urquiza and various projects and production services to be developed this year.
Los Angeles encourages my ambition: to reach the highest level and professional experience. To get a strong foundation that allows me to collaborate in visually interesting stories that I like. To work on projects that can be shot here or anywhere else. Los Angeles is an ideal place to experience cinema, but I do not think that cinema is exclusively made here, nor it is only done the American way. Therefore, I hope that this experiences that are shaping my way of looking at things —and telling stories— will accompany me to other places and to other worlds, among which Spain holds a very special place.