Checking in with Former Students:
Fernando Vilanova Miranda and Lukas Teren, ASK
Representatives to the International Cinematographer Summit hosted by the ASC, June 2016
Fernando Vilanova Miranda: Well, I must say that GCI was a very good learning experience for me because there were many things that I assumed and many things that I learned by doing. But I didn't know the theory behind them. So, I came to GCI and I learned them properly. Going back I felt a lot more secure when showing up to work in the decisions I was making because I knew that the decisions I was making had a firm background to them.
Lukas Teren, ASK: I didn't have high expectations from me returning home after GCI, but I had been home for two days and then I went for a job and everyone was asking me "how was it?" and what I've learned and if it was valuable. People started to think a different way about me because I didn't need to go any other further with my education but I did, and I went here to Los Angeles and GCI. I mean everybody who asked me about it was feeling good about it like it was a good idea.
Fernando Vilanova Miranda: Yes I specifically remember one commercial for Coca-Cola. I did that project with Heinz, another Salvadorian who has been to GCI. It was all green screens. We were shooting a family in three different scenarios and it was a traveling shot where the camera was moving, following along the main guy in the commercial it was really great because one of the things we learned about at GCI was how it was important to think about your compositing techniques in terms of finding a background and composing for that background and lighting for that background and checking all the exposures and the green screen values and also before that commercial we did have an in house post production department that wasn't looped into the production circle this time after GCI one of the request I had for our production was to have the post production people be on set with me from the very beginning so we could have a very clear communication amongst ourselves the end result ended up being very good because we were both the head of post production and myself were both on the same page in terms of the kind of lighting that we were using and the mattes and everything that were going into the compositing.
Lukas Teren, ASK: Yes! The film industry in Slovakia is not that huge so we have to shift from one subject to another so I'm basically switching from feature films, or between feature films I'm doing commercials and documentaries and basically a little bit of everything. I'm mostly working with the classic technology but the thing that GCI helped me become a bit more confident with, for example using LEDs because I made my final project for your class was all done with LED Lights from different companies and different brands. I like it because they are really handy. I like to be efficient and LEDs are giving you this opportunity to have lights do a different job with the flip of a switch and have a different effect. And of course things like lighting the greenscreen. I'm more confident with that, no body in Slovakia showed me how to light a greenscreen and they maybe think it's a know how or like a secret recipe.
Yuri Neyman, ASC: Fernando, now you are representative of Salvadorian Society of Cinematographers right?
Fernando Vilanova Miranda: Yes, we are starting it you know El Salvador, we've discussed a number of times before we are a very young industry production, we've had production for a very long time but it was very informal mostly commercial oriented. Starting in the early to mid 90's production industry started taking shape so now that's been around for 15-20 years this new generation of young people that are very well versed in cinemagraphic language because they see so much on the internet there's a very general interested to create new content so I think that myself, as well as my peers and colleagues that have had access to a formal education and have had access to experiencing the industry in other countries like the United states and Europe you have things that are very well organized and structured I think it's our responsibility to go back and sort of start translating this organization into the Salvadorian industry so one of the steps that we are trying to do is establish a Salvadorian society of cinematographers that is going to be the one responsible for making sure cinematography as a craft is respected and maintained throughout the upcoming years.
Yuri Neyman, ASC: We are very proud that you became one of the founders of Salvadorian society of cinematographers and we all have been very excited to realize that you represent El Salvador in this second international conference with the ASC. So tell us about the conference, what discussions have you had there?
Fernando Vilanova Miranda: This second summit I think falls into place at a very appropriate time and GCI is a perfect example of that. It's a time where cinematography is changing dramatically from one month to the next not to say one year to the next. We started on the first day talking about what the roll of the cinematographer is like today. Has this roll expanded? Is the cinematographer disappearing from set so to speak or from productions? I think there was a pretty good consensus that the cinematographer's roll is expanding. We had different people from different countries with different experiences in terms of how long they have been in the industry for provide different points of view, but we all agreed that the cinematographer has to remain the one who is the custodian of the image from the very beginning to the very end of the process of any production and I think that now a days if you are willing to go through that because sometimes you are not able from an economical point of view or a producer or a studio is going to say we don't have enough money for the cinematographer to go through the entire post production.
Yuri Neyman, ASC: And you Lukas?
Lukas Teren, ASK: We have been screening association show reels from each and every country. I've saw how the styles are different and how the Nordic cinematography has a style and how south America has a different sort of style so I see how our is different. Today there was a lot of talks about virtual cinematography and the 360 cinematography and all these future things. I can say if I hadn't had the GCI education I wouldn't understand at all what's going on. I mean these are the guys who are testing the new technology, which is just coming. They're the pioneers.
Yuri Neyman, ASC: I am very glad to hear it. When we introduced expanded cinematography for the first time people said, "What is this?" I said this is what people are going to do in soon. I am very glad to hear what you are saying. I'm very glad that you were our student, then became a representative of your Slovak society of cinematographers. So how did you become a representative?
Lukas Teren, ASK: I mean from the beginning it was very simple. Most of my colleagues from the association didn't have time because they were working on some projects, I luckily had a short break between projects and I'm working on commercials right now so I have some free time. Second thought is that I've already been here and I already know people thanks to GCI and thanks to visiting the ASC clubhouse so they said to me, Lukas you know them so go and see them.
Yuri Neyman, ASC: We're very happy for your success and that people appreciate what you've learned and what you know. With all of this technological and aesthetical innovation do you see how a professional cinematographer is changing because its not only photography anymore?
Fernando Vilanova Miranda: Well I think that you need to find a way as a cinematographer that you can work along these other people like a colorist or a head of visual effects or head of previs but I think that Chivo does a good job in doing this, The Revenant is a good example from the very beginning he is the leader in terms of image, you know he says this is what's going to happen and this is what it is going to look like. But you can only do that if you have the confidence and the trust of the people that are involved in the rest of the process. As a cinematographer if you come into the process and you can speak to them at a level where they are confident that the material you are going to provide to them is up to the standards of what they need and they feel they can collaborate with you then there is not going to be an internal competition in terms of who decides and Its going to be very clear from the very beginning that you as the cinematographer is going to be dictating what the image is going to look like.
Yuri Neyman, ASC: Very good, again congratulations. I was very glad to see you two on the list of international delegates and again we're very happy that we have two students from our classes representing their country and we would like to wish you luck with what you are doing.