Maker Series - Chapter 45
A Fresh Visual Perspective
Enrique Millán Fuentes-Guerra, Cinematographer, Spain
Enrique is a young Cinematographer living in Madrid who enjoys finding new perspectives on a visual approach. He studied at TAI Cinema School in 2012 and since then he has been working mostly in commercials and music videos. He also enjoys working on documentaries and short films alongside having extensive experience in colour grading and editing.
We got in touch to discuss Enrique's creative process and his visualisation for Zahara's music video 'Merichane'.
Fabrik: We’re so pleased to have you as our next Maker. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what attracted you to Cinematography?
Enrique Millán Fuentes-Guerra: Thanks a lot! The pleasure is mine, I’m honoured to be doing this interview for you. I am from Cordoba (Andalusia, southern Spain), and I studied a degree in Media Communication from the University of Malaga. Afterwards, I moved to Madrid to study a master’s degree in Cinematography for a year. What I thought would be a fast stay in Madrid, has turned out to be 10 years living here!
Since I was a kid, I’ve always been interested in music, buying CD's, watching videoclips, going to concerts. On my third year at university, I saw there was a Masters’ degree in Music Video Direction, with Luis Cerveró as a lecturer. I was pretty convinced to do it, but when I finished uni, it was no longer available. It was my sister Clara who told me: “Hey, why don't you check this Cinematography thing? You are going to like it”. And that was it! Although sometimes I wish she had told me about Medicine or Law!
Fabrik: How would you describe your style of Cinematography?
Enrique Millán Fuentes-Guerra: I wouldn’t say I have a very specific style, but I generally try to have a natural approach to the image, with contrasts, not hard lights and an overall low key mood. Every project I film has learnings in it, so I can say that my style is constantly evolving. As I said, music is very important for me, so music videos have always been a reference in my style of lighting or framing.
Fabrik: What were the first visual ideas you discussed with Director Guillermo Guerrero when you embarked on Zahara's music video, Merichane?
Enrique Millán Fuentes-Guerra: Guille and I have worked together many times in music videos, so we usually meet and chat first about the song, sharing thoughts that come up after listening to the lyrics, and his overall ideas in terms of narrative. Then we discuss locations, how we can find the aesthetics we want in each place, and how it affects the story we want to tell. Making music videos in Spain can be tricky in terms of budget, so our main aim from the beginning of the production process is to find the sweetest location spot that can give us the most, without having to transform it too much.
Fabrik: Could you touch briefly on what some of your responsibilities were as Cinematographer for Merichane?
Enrique Millán Fuentes-Guerra: First of all, I was in charge of finding the right mood, in terms of light, lenses, sensor, camera movement, etc. I also worked as much as I could into the narrative and editing, in pre production and during the shoot. Working close to the director makes my work more fun and interesting!
Fabrik: Merichane is a tremendously confessional track that is also a political act to reappropriate our own ghosts, sexuality and past suffering. Could you tell us about your creative process and how you incorporated these themes into your visuals?
Enrique Millán Fuentes-Guerra: Everything in Merichane comes over a feeling of oppression, and also rebellion against it. We wanted to create a dark environment, with contrasts and shadows having a great role in the story. I looked for references from other music videos, cinematographers, directors, etc. like the amazing piece from Salomon Lighthelm “Victoria - Xibalba”, where I really liked how he and Director of Photography Guillermo Garza created such a dense atmosphere in interiors.
Everything was to be based in that oppression, but in a place that expressed the opposite, wide spaces, wealth and magnificence. We sought to create a sense of contradiction where, after all of her ghosts and suffering, she ends up in crucifixion.
Fabrik: A breathtaking production with various scenes and lighting set-ups, how did you approach planning a scene and how you were going to cover it?
Enrique Millán Fuentes-Guerra: The location was amazing, and although our possibilities of intervention were limited, I was quite happy with the result. The gaffer (Jorge Fonseca) and his team helped me a lot to achieve the look I wanted. We filmed for two days: one in the big palace, and another one in a studio. The first day was mad heavy work, because we wanted to do many different things around the house, and the second day on the studio was quieter, with the light box, the choreography and the crucifixion. This was the 5th music video we filmed for Zahara, so we were a big team of colleagues and friends who got really involved, from the producer, Jaime Dezcallar, to the art director, Edu Parrilla, and of course Guillermo himself.
Fabrik: Could you tell us about the kit you used to shoot Merichane? Did you use a mix of both film and digital? Or was the film style created during post production?
Enrique Millán Fuentes-Guerra: It was Alexa Mini, with Cooke Speed Panchros S2/S3. I reeeeally like these lenses. I love their look, softness and colour. I use them a lot! Also, we used a very old Hi8 Camera, from my father, for all of these little inserts during the video. On the second day, we had a Movi Pro with operator Diego Comendador, who I really enjoy working with. Afterwards, with colourist Dani Aránega from Gradepunk, we worked to achieve a style that provided this grainy look (despite the Youtube compression). We really worked a lot on the shadows, trying to make them as realistic as we could, and also on Zahara’s skin. It was “Berlin”, Zahara’s next music video, the one in which we used Super16mm film.
Fabrik: How would you compare the pace of work on commercial and music videos to short films?
Enrique Millán Fuentes-Guerra: I mostly work on commercial and music videos, and less frequently in short films. But I can say that the pace is completely different: in music videos you have freedom, in commercials you have rush, and in short films you have narrative. It’s a balance that never gets to be equal, but each work is special in its way. I enjoy commercials because of the variety of situations that you can find yourself into, in relatively short periods of time; also,if you learn how to deal with clients, you can survive to almost anything!
Fabrik: What are some of the most challenging parts of being a Cinematographer and what are the most rewarding?
Enrique Millán Fuentes-Guerra: In my case, I really enjoy the moment that I have the camera in my hands, and I see through the monitor that everything that I wanted to do is happening. Also, I find that looking for references is always interesting, I learn about different perspectives from cinematographers, editors or directors. Also, that’s how I found Fabrik!
Fabrik: Are you able to give us insight on any exciting new projects that you may have in the pipeline?
Enrique Millán Fuentes-Guerra: I have finished filming a commercial from Alimentos de España, which was screened on the Dubai Expo, and this month I’m starting a new Zahara music video! :)
Final question. What do you like most about Fabrik? What's your favourite feature?
Enrique Millán Fuentes-Guerra: It’s simplicity. I found Fabrik in a moment where I was changing my website, and saw a design that I really liked. I am not familiar with website coding, so finding a place where I could easily upload my work, and organize it, was absolute bliss. Also, they care a lot about their community of creators, so that’s something I respect a lot.
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