I’ve contacted Sergio Herencias, a talented Swiss/Spanish Filmmaker and Cinematographer based in Zürich, Switzerland for an exclusive interview. Raised in a small village called Degersheim, Sergio has managed to turn his dream and great passion into a career.
Cameraman.com: Tell me about yourself and what do you do.
Sergio: Okay, my name is Sergio I’m 31 years old. I work as a DP, Director and Motion Designer. I’m co-owner and founder of Guave Studios GmbH and Guave Motion. As CEO & Producer, I’m responsible that the business keeps running and my customers are satisfied with our projects.
My expertise ranges from the starting concept over to production and post production. I’m a lucky owner of a RED Epic and love optimized and efficient workflows. Shootings provides an ideal counterbalance to the Post Production parts of my job and I do it with a lot of passion! I also love to edit movies and create complex animation projects in After Effects.
How did you get started in Video Production?
With many detours [smiles]. As the son of a professional photographer I came in contact with cameras very early and was allowed to occasionally adjust and trigger.
The view through the eyepiece of the camera was like looking through a tube, which let me plunge into another, more creative and fascinating world.
In addition to photography, my father introduce me to another passion: Movies. Together we watched lots of movies and went to the movie theaters every week until it became some kind of obsession.
I was inspired to look behind the scenes, to uncover all the mysteries behind this sorcery. In my first attempts I tried to recreate scenes of multiple movies using my fathers first camera, a JVC connected to a VHS-Recorder. Unfortunately, during that time (in the 90s) there were no schools, no internet and no training programs in this field. So I learned all autodidactically, informed myself from various sources, books and people that were working in the business. During my apprenticeship (in 2000) I visited the art school for photography in Zurich. Thanks to the internet all this information became more accessible. After that I only had to collect experience and to realize many projects as possible. With every new project my know-how grew.
Even today, I learn something from each new project and that makes it exciting.
Tell me about your last project “Muñeca”
Muñeca, is a little project that has long been on my mind, caused by the desire for something new, and to experiment with unusual things. Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to fund such projects and at that time i had not found the right partner to produce the short film, until last year. A production company called Sinneszellen contacted me regarding a partnership with Guave Motion and voilà, the production began.
After we had finished the script we decided to realize it as a (low)-no-Budget Short Film because the funding for such a special short is almost impossible in Switzerland. All crew members waived their fee and we got some cool deals with location and equipment owners. My goal was, to forget the Budget restriction, and create a special and highly challenging visual language with very elaborately designed sets.
We shot this film within two hard days using a Red Epic and only a five-man crew (Director & DP, Light & Grip Technician, two Runners and a Make-Up & Dress Artist), apart from the cast. We had a lot of fun and we were surprised by the results.
After the filming I went to edit the film and do the Sound Design, for me it was by far the hardest part of the whole Production.
And what is “Muñeca” about?
“Muñeca” is the Spanish for both “marionette” and “wrist”. It’s a grim tale of hidden undercurrents: desires, fears, manipulation, and animal instincts vie with each other in a maelstrom of passions and pitfalls. In some of the ideas and images, dream merges with reality. The result is portrayed as a hall of mirrors, with female oppression and male dominance and egocentricity.
The narrative is based on the fear and bewilderment of the main character’s nightmare, interacting with her deep-rooted fear of her own, subconscious lusts. A pretty young woman, driven by the sadism of an egomaniac and her own, apparently unwilling oppression, mutates into a human marionette, «muñeca».
What lenses did you use?
Since we had no budget to rent Prime Lenses, I used Canon Lenses which are very appropriate for the sharp, and high-res images of the Red Epic. We also had to work very efficiently and therefore the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L, the Canon 50mm f/1.4 and the Macro 100mm f/2.8L were perfectly suitable. We had a nice and soft depth of field and were able to create beautiful images with a few additional tricks.
What about the lighting?
Light is everything! We used the opportunity and experimented with the lights. It’s subtle but the light actually plays the main role in this film and also is part of the story.
From the very beginning I wanted to create this story with a dark ambient, hot and cold tones so we decided to work as much as possible with selective lighting. The Light was integrated within every scene. For example I wanted carbon fiber lamps hanging from the ceiling as a light source or bouncing light off some objects.
What about the Post-Production?
That was very, very complex. I decided to do it myself in Adobe Premiere, because I had difficulties to find the right words to express the feelings and thoughts that I would like to have implemented in the cut. In addition to this, the music was very important to me and this went hand in hand with the cut. During the editing of the film I was able to improve the storytelling with some reframings and additions.
The final-cut, color grading and mastering was done through the main production company. They offered me to make it with their Smoke-Suite, Smoke is really a powerful tool. The grading was done with DaVinci Resolve by Senior Digital Colorist Stefan King from Germany. The communication with Stefan was smooth from the beginning and he was able to understand my wishes and ideas perfectly. Great man!
A lot of cinematographers have said that some of the best shots come from accidents and improvisation. What do you think about that?
I totally agree. There are always certain things that you have not considered, especially with a small crew and a stressful shooting. From a reflection that appears suddenly to space problems with a big rig, then you must move your camera and shoot from a different angle. It also includes unpredictable weather situations. There are many (happy) accidents that could be interesting for the final image. Your creativity comes into play and everything is exciting, I enjoy this.
Talk to me about the cinematographer best friend.
You mean the camera? I love her. Have you seen my unboxing movie? I think that says it all.
Now back to topic. For me it is Oliver, who takes care of the Light & Grip. There are many special situations in a shooting that you cannot handle with standard solutions and Oli is my man for that. When I’m not directing myself, it is logically the director is my best friend, but only if he gives me the liberty to be creative.
What project or job have you had the most fun working on?
Projects in which I can unfold myself and transport my creative visions, but there is none in particular. Variety is the most fun.
What’s your single favorite shot you’ve seen in a film or movie?
That is a very difficult question. Believe me, I’ve seen an incredible number of movies. Right now I remember just one shot and that is the incredible single-shot from Children of Men in which Clive Owen’s character searches a building under attack. Have you seen it? It was amazing. The camera was playing incredibly with the choreography and actors. It took five hours every time they wanted to reshoot it’s crazy stuff and expensive.
Can you tell me about your next project?
I’m slowly working towards a feature-length documentary film. I already have many pictures in mind but I’m unwilling to reveal more. There is also in Pre-Production a funny mini-series produced at Guave Motion.
Written & Directed by Sergio Herencias
Senior Producer: Michelle Edelmann
Co-Producer: Sergio Herencias
Director of Photography: Sergio Herencias
1st Assistant DP: Oliver Muff
Styling AD & Wardrobe: Michelle Edelmann
Assistant to Director: Bruce Pimenta & Francis Pimenta
Hair & Make-up Design: Michelle Edelmann
Best Boy: Patricia Frei, Francis Pimenta, Bruce Pimenta
Light & Grip Technician: Oliver Muff
Editor: Sergio Herencias
VFX Artist: David Fritsche
Senior Digital Colorist: Stefan King
Title Design: Debby Bürgisser
Sound Design: Sergio Herencias
Special Thanks to: Cello & Cyrill Weiss
Shot on Red Epic