17th Berlinale Talents | 2019
Andrea Gonzalez Mereles
Cinematographer Andrea Gonzalez Mereles has been using her unparalleled skill behind the lens to create captivating visual stories for a plethora of films and television series.
Hi Andrea thanks for talking to TNC, you all set for the Berlinale?
Still figuring out the last details! Besides some of the logistics that I’m still working on, I’m focusing on thinking what is it that I want to take from this experience and how I can contribute to it.
Are there nerves ahead of the festival?
Definitely! Although I have to say it’s more excitement than actual nerves. The opportunity to attend masterclasses and panel discussions is extremely appealing. I’m equally excited about meeting the rest of the participants and link with them. I also have a few friends that are part of Talents 2019 and of the Festival Selection and I’m equally happy to re-connect with them. Berlin is one of the most important film festivals and I’m just thrilled and thankful to be part of it.
What does it mean for you to be part of the 17th edition of Berlinale Talents?
I’m extremely honoured to be part of it. Many filmmakers I admire have been Berlinale Talents participants in previous editions. I’m excited because I’ll get to know filmmakers from all over the world that are devoted to the creation of films. Meeting the filmmakers from my generation is such an amazing opportunity. Berlinale Talents is a platform for discussion of topics and problems that are relevant to our work. For me, there’s also a sense of responsibility and commitment that comes with being a talent. It means that I’m committed to the creation of narrative films and the continuous creation of relevant content.
How important are opportunities like this for a cinematographer?
I think it's very important. It’s an amazing chance to get to know other filmmakers and network with them. There are not a lot of opportunities like this for cinematographers and I really appreciate that Berlinale Talents understands our craft and the need for this type of projects.
It’s also a great opportunity to reflect upon our work as filmmakers. What are we doing and where are we going? Part of our job as artists is to constantly be questioning where we are and where we’re headed. It’s so important to be thinking about the content we’re putting out in the world. The beauty of Berlinale Talents is that it’s not a two week summit but the start of lifelong friendships and collaborations.
"I love moving image I think it’s the ultimate art-form."
What made you want to get into cinematography?
For me, it has always been about storytelling. I think reading books as a kid left a footprint in me and put my visual imagination to work. Growing up I started watching international films and taking photographs. However, it has been more of a discovery process than an actual decision; almost like a calling. When I found out what a cinematographer was, it was more of a gut feeling telling me something was right than a conscious decision.
Can you tell me a little bit about your work, have you always had a passion for film?
I have to say that my true passion as kid was literature. It really resonated in me. I was addicted to all types of narrative content and I think that helped me realize at a young age that what I wanted to do in life was tell stories. As I grew older, and I started to watch films I realized that visual storytelling was my thing. I started shooting narrative content in college and as soon as I found out what a cinematographer was I realized right away that was what I wanted to do.
What are some of the challenges you have faced on your projects?
I think all type of challenges. From low budgets to technical limitations, but at the end it’s all about understanding story and good collaborations. As long as you have both of them then there’s always a way around it.
Do you remember what first film you worked on?
It was a student film and I was working as a PA. But what is so memorable about it is that it was a moment of realization for me; I found out what a cinematographer was and I knew that is what I wanted to do. Ever since, I’ve focused on shooting.
For any filmmaker but perhaps more so for a cinematographer, how important is the collaborative process for you?
For me collaboration is essential. Filmmaking is by nature a team effort. In the last few years, I’ve come to understand that the process of making a film is also part of the result. It’s not exactly like theatre in which the result is the process but I like to think that it has some resemblance. I love collaborations that are rooted in strong human relationships. Growing and learning from directors ( who are my closest collaborators) is essential for me. The films that I shoot deal with human issues and I think it’s crucial to have that humanity behind the camera as well.
How much has your approach to your work changed since you started out?
Completely and is constantly changing. Attending AFI was a game changer for me. Their cinematography program helped me understand the story and use it as a tool to tell the director’s story. The program helped me understand collaborative efforts among and within departments. Additionally, I’ve had wonderful mentors along the way like Carolina Costa whose perspective, approach and kindness have helped me gain a deeper understanding of the filmmaking process. I also think that every time I’m on set I learn something new from my colleagues and that shapes my professional growth.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a documentary about potter artist and social activist, Roberto Lugo. The project aims to present Lugo and to reflect upon his craft and the challenges he has faced throughout his professional career. This piece is presented with a poetic and verité approach. It’s a truly special project, not only because the content is relevant but because it marks my most recent collaboration with director Cyrus Duff. I’ll be flying out to Philadelphia right after wrapping Berlinale Talents. Additionally, I’m developing a still photography project about the passage of time which I plan to transform into a book within the following years. It’s an extremely personal project and I’m glad to be putting it out in the world.
And finally, do you have any advice or tips for any thinking about getting into cinematography?
I’d recommend anybody who’s getting into cinematography to never give up, search for people with whom you can create lifelong collaborations and continuously do projects that resonate in you.