Alex Echevarria, (BFA Cinematography ’17) has some unique experiences shooting while at SVA — often traveling with classmates to places from Sweden to Kenya to Scotland. But nothing makes him happier than collaborating with the close friends he’s worked with again and again in the past four years.
The Coca-Cola/Regal project turned out to be the second project Ameer and I did together last summer. We had just wrapped a crazy music video when he got the call, and I was excited to hop back into production. There were still plenty of ideas that we wanted to experiment with. It presented a challenge due to the quick deadline we were given, so we immediately got to work. Although it was my first time shooting for a big name client and dealing with multiple creative agencies, the process felt similar to how we always work together.
In terms of creating a look, we studied recent Coke commercials such as the Taste the Feeling campaign, as well as old classics from the 70’s and 60’s. Looking at that progression of advertisement helped hone a look we hoped would have a timeless feel. We used lenses from the 1950’s, and lit the scenes pretty minimally, using large soft sources to create a pleasing environment. I like lighting the space of the scene rather than just focusing on how the actors look in each shot. I feel it’s important to light in a way that gives my director and the talent the freedom to move and be inspired by the environment. That’s also why I work so closely with the production designer, Miwa Sakulrat. Miwa created a space that felt real, and that inspired the lighting scheme and the composition of each shot. Even if a piece is heavily stylized, the space you’re shooting in must be believable for the on-screen talent. Filmmaking as a practice is so contrived in how structured it is, that I make every attempt to let the subject forget the constructs of the set.
Making pictures is a collaborative process. When the homies come together in a space, each individual putting forth his or her own unique energy to construct a piece, events occur that are completely unexpected. Real expression surfaces, and we learn about each other and ourselves. The best moments on set are when plans fall apart or are thrown away, and we submit to instinct. Intuition brought forth through spontaneity is what makes it all worthwhile. Perfection is expected, calculated, and that’s why it’s boring. When we stop acting as planned, that’s when the best moments come forth.
Every individual we work with brings new ideas and contributions to the table, and without this collaboration the end result would differ. I enjoy what we make because it truly feels like ours. It’s a shared experience. It’s all I could ever ask for in this line of work.