Friday, December 3, 2010

The thrill of flying. A timeless experience.

I am hyperactive. It's a condition that some people might find annoying.

But a good thing about being hyperactive is a natural ability for multitasking.

And I like toys. I'm a guy.

So you can imagine that, when FIrestone allowed us to have at my disposal: two jet fighter planes, one helicopter, one light airplane and 6 cameras, I was ecstatic. 
(Ok, I was very happy... Very.)

It came with a caveat of course: I only had 2 days to shoot everything.

The first thing we had to consider was the cost of the Star airplane. Not only the rental but the actual flight.
The star plane
It came to roughly $25,000 Dlls per flight. And the flight lasted about 20 minutes because as sleek as it looks, it is a very inefficient plane. (But hey, we had a pilot that that had flown with The Blue Angels and they don't come cheap)

Oh, and you could not put any cameras inside or outside the plane.

So we needed a second plane that was already fitted for shooting.

But wait. 
To top it all, we also had a personality involved: Adrian Fernández who was racing CART and was the spokesperson for Firestone. 

This turned out to be a good thing because Adrian lived in Phoenix so that meant shooting in Arizona. And we couldn't have had it better. We found everything we needed there.

Except for some camera equipment and the Helicopter with the Wescam, which we brought form LA. 

Since we had only 2 days to shoot it all due to the agenda of the personality,
we decided to go with simultaneous cameras. 6 cameras to be exact.

One camera under the wing for shots of the landing gear during take off and landing.

One camera inside the cockpit

The Wescam. 

4000ft in the air on a helicopter with no doors, freezing. 


Checking the camera on the Wescam

To get shots like this.

The camera on the Wescam has a joy stick and when you're shooting air to air it's fascinating because you're aiming at a point in space in the future so you have to anticipate where the other airplane is going to be... And they go fast....very fast. 
It's all pure adrenaline.

We had 3 roving cameras on the tarmac:

One of the most incredible experiences I ever had when we landed the helicopter in the middle of two mountains in the dessert waiting for 20 minutes while the star plane was being refueled.

The silence and the beauty were amazing.

The main spot turned out to be a timeless piece which will always be in my demo reel.

And here is the Director's montage for you:

The real gazpacho:

As soon as I published the recipe of Salmorejo, my friend Javier San Juan wanted to set me straight and he sent me this recipe:

Really red tomatoes
Garlic at will
Olive Oil from Huerto del Conde (he is very specific as you can tell, and you will discover why in the near future)
Hard bread that that you soak in water and then let it drip before you you mix all together with salt (your taste).
You serve with diced boiled egg and spanish ham.
This is what he calls "the classic and authentic gazpacho cordobés (from Cordoba in Spain)

And to let you imagination work, a jewel:

More to come....

Monday, November 8, 2010

You're as good as the people you work with. (Part 2)

Directors of photography are important, no doubt, but there are many other people that contribute to the production and make my job as a Director easier and the project better.

The Executive Producer.

They make things happen. They are the power behind the throne so to speak. And the good ones don't take any credit....they just... make it happen.

Andrea Grillone

Don't let her good looks fool you. 
She's tough and her IQ goes through the roof. And those are only 2 of the reasons we have worked together for such a long time.

Her contribution goes beyond making sure that we have everything we need to carry out the project. Trained as a designer (Parson's)  she also gets involved in the aesthetics of the project, with constant suggestions and comments throughout the production process, from Pre-Production to Finishing.

She is the best I have ever worked with.

The Assistant Director.

Juantxo Grafulla. 

It is not easy for me to find a good AD. One that covers my back, be my memory and generally take care of me (not baby sitting like though) while at the same time gets along with the crew. (I hate AD's that mistreat or scream at the crew, and I have seen a few).

Juantxo has totally spoiled me.
He does the planning, organizes the pre-production meeting (which is a real pain in the neck) and runs a great set.

All this allows me to concentrate on the creative aspect (in other words, he let's me have fun).  And for that he deserves my eternal appreciation, and awed admiration (getting carried away but as they say "My kingdom for a good AD).

Although... he is a die hard fan of Espanyol... nobody's perfect.

The Art Director / Production Designer.

As I said before, cinema is a collaboration of minds...(under a leader of course). 

I get very involved in every aspect of what you will see on the screen, and that includes the Design (yes,  image is everything, but I actually work).

But it is incredibly valuable to have experts to back you up.

There are 2 people in the area of Art Direction that I really enjoy working with:

Gian Amara

Here he looks like he's enjoying a stroll through the countryside, but the pond behind him is actually man made for a TV spot.

He has been the Art Director in several feature movies and has worked with us in several projects.


He is not only a great Production Designer but also an accomplished CGI Artist.

He developed the titles of the Rafa Marquez documentary. (you can see the trailer on our Web Page, under TV Content).

Miguel Garigliano

Originally from Argentina, he now makes Barcelona his home.

To me, he has something that defines a good Production Designer: Good Taste.

Miguel has worked with me on several projects that I have shot in Barcelona, including the recent "Mirrors" TV Spot.

X shrimp:

I recently  experimented with  a new dish that came out great.

It's a combination of potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples, asparagus and shrimp.


1 garlic
1 potato
1 sweet potato
1 gala apple
6 or 7 asparagus spears

Have ready:
Olive oil
Salt (rock ocean)
1 spicy red dry pepper (crushed)
10 peeled shrimp

On a frying pan, like the one in the photograph, pour olive oil until the whole surface of the pan is covered so that a slice of potato will be at level with the oil.

Put it on very low heat.
From here on, you have to consider the different cooking times of each of the ingredients

Let the oil warm up and put the garlic in.
Add the potatoes and the sweet potatoes.

Add salt (your taste) and the crushed pepper.

Cover the pan and let cook a while until the potatoes are almost cooked. (Check every 4 or 5 minutes).

Add the apples and the asparagus and let them cook for no more than 2 minutes. (Pan covered).

Add the shrimp and let them cook for about a minute or minute and a half  (pan covered).

And you're ready to serve and eat.

But not without wine.

Kendall Jackson's Chardonnay has always been a favorite of mine. Fresh and with a hint of wood, it goes great with this dish.

Monday, October 11, 2010

You're as good as the people you work with. (Part I)

If you consider the amount of people involved in the production of film (digital or negative), you cannot in all honesty call any film “my film”.  In spite of the advances in technology that allow you to film with a minimal crew. You still need help with lights, with sound, with bags and equipment.

Film is the product of collaboration, from the Production Assistants to the Gaffer and the Executive Producer.

If the focus puller fails, I look bad. If the Director of Photography fails, I look bad.
And so on and so on.

But enough about me.

Let me talk to you about some of the people that make me look good.

Starting of course with Directors of Photography, specially the ones that make everything look good.

You see, we can all take pictures, but not all of us can be called Directors of Photography.
And for me the big difference is that a Director of Photography knows how to control the way a picture looks.

So in this post I will talk about some of the DP’s I’ve had the joy of working with:

Eagle Egilsson

He looks like a vampire doesn’t he?

He is the culprit of many of the commercials on my reel... of course not as steamy as the TV series he has worked on.

His credits run over pages of Google. From Red Shoe Dairies, to CSI Miami and Dark Blue.

He is from Iceland so I guess that’s why he is a combination of fire and ice. (I’m sure he’ll like that).

Alejandro Osset

Here is a master of his craft.

A Director in his own right, he is an asset for other Directors.

We have a lot of things in common:
Same esthetic sense, same love for good food and good wine. (He loves a good rice and wine from Ribera del Duero)

And I think he is an evolved human being. I can spend hours learning from him, about natural healing, about life….
You can see some of his work in our web page under Directors. By the way, he was the DP of the spot you saw in the last blog. (Mirror Trick) 

Oriol Villa

As every real Director of Photography, Oriol is  a man for all seasons.
I only started working with him last year in Barcelona. But it was instant chemistry.

And chemistry is an enormous word when it comes to A Director of photography.

You have to share the same vision before you start shooting.


What I really like about Oriol is his enthusiasm and his initiative. He looks for references, he talks a lot with you and you end up, as I said sharing the same vision before you start to shoot. on top of that, he has a great sense of humor.

Our first collaboration was the spot with Villa and Messsi, where I needed to delegate completely the look as I was to busy dealing with very famous people, while Oriol was doing the work.

And now, let's talk about wine, Red wine that is.


A red form Penedés (Catalunya). It is a mixture of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes it a great wine for meat.

And as winter is almost upon us...the recipe of today is: 


The most important element of this dish is the french oven from Le Creuset.

It's magic.

It's like, you throw everything in there and 30 minutes later you're having a hearty meal.


12 pieces of chicken (you choose)
3 Onions.
2 potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
3 tomatoes
2 onions
2 garlic cloves
1 (or 2 if you're brave) red chiles - dried.
1 glass of Port wine
olive oil

Chop the garlic and the onion.

Heat the oil in the pan (enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan).
Throw in the garlic and the onion, then the chicken, then the tomatoes (split in halves), and then the rest, including some shavings of ginger and the chiles crushed. But wait, don't put the port wine just yet. Cover the pot and let it do its thing for about 25 minutes at very low heat.
Then you pour in the port wine and cook for another 5 or 7 minutes. That should do it.

I serve it with white rice, which I cook the italian way (subject of another post).

Enjoy. It's a simple dish for simple people.

So if you're not simple, don't try it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A mirror trick.

Have you you ever tried doing anything through a mirror?

 Leonardo did. All the time.

But, let's face it, I'm no Leonardo

What I am though, is very careful in the preparation of my shoots. 

So I prepare my brain to work backwards so to speak. 

Specially when everything is going to be where you least expect it

And you build mock-ups on your desk and your computer.

Pre-light is essential. You need as much preparation as you can get.

And you go through the choreography that you have rehearsed in your head.

Adding to the mix a personality, who happens to be also the client because the spot is for his fragrance.

Rafa Márquez a star on and off the pitch

From the first moment we worked together I realized he gets totally involved  and wants to understand  what we are doing.

And then you just have fun. 

I'm writing this post during the summer in NY. And I discovered a great cold soup for the hot weather. It's called "salmorejo" and it's a rich version of the most popular gazpacho.
Salmorejo basically has a lot more olive oil and it's done in the blender whih is how you achieve the creamy texture.
6 to 8 pear tomatoes, half garlic, half a green pepper, some drops of vinegar, salt to your taste and at least half a cup of good olive oil.
Put it all in the blender and then store in the fridge.

The wine: This one is from France. A white Vouvray. A real fresh summer wine.