#2: With Steadicam op Dan Kneece [right] - "Nine Lives" [2004]

 

   


XAVIER PÉREZ GROBET   AMC/ASC

 

Born: 12 October 1964, México D.F. (Mexico City), Mexico.

Education: Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica [CCC], México D.F. (Mexico City), Mexico.

Career: 'I was born in Mexico City to an architect father and a still photographer mother, I guess that's where it all started. I grew up with a photo lab next to my bedroom. I had my first camera at an early age and took pictures, I played a lot with the enlarger using different objects to create compositions. When I was 11 our family spent a year in England. That's when I bought my first Super 8 camera and started making my films. Later, back in Mexico, together with my cousin, we wrote and shot a couple of stories using everybody in the family. We went to the movies all the time since I was a kid. I knew I wanted to be a moviemaker since I got my first Super 8 camera. After high school, I wanted to enter film school. There were two film schools in Mexico. You had to be 23 years old and have a career in order to apply to the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, which was the one that I was interested in. I tried architecture school in the meantime, but after a while I realized that it wasn't something that I felt passionate about. After about a half year in architectural school, I decided to board a cargo ship to Europe. I got onboard in Acapulco and rode through the Panama Canal. The trip took about two months, and then I spent about a half a year backpacking around Europe. I went back to Mexico and worked for a while until it was time to apply for film school. Around 300 people applied, and I was lucky enough to be one of the 12 they selected. We studied every aspect of filmmaking during the first year. It was a great opportunity to meet real filmmakers. During the second year, the director of the school, who is a well known documentary filmmaker, Eduardo Maldonado, was working on a feature documentary about the festivities in Xochimilco, an area south of Mexico City. I worked as camera assistant on that film. That was my first experience on a film other than our school projects. There were different American films shooting in Mexico that were looking for locals who spoke the language and had enough experience to work on their crews. My first experience was on a film that David Watkin shot called 'Last Rites'.' [From interview by Bob Fisher on the KODAK OnFilm website.]

Member of the ASC since 2009.

An interview appeared in the book 'The Cinematographers' [announced].

Awards: 'Ariel' Silver Award nom [1992] for 'La mujer de Benjamín'; 'Ariel' Silver Award nom [1996] for 'Sin remitente'; 'Ariel' Silver Award nom [1998] for 'De noche vienes, Esmeralda'; 'Ariel' Silver Award nom [2000] for 'Sexo, pudor y lágrimas'; Independent Spirit Award nom [2001; shared] for 'Before Night Falls'.


Based on the film 'Eat, Drink, Man, Woman', 'Tortilla Soup' [2000] is the classic example of the new indie film spirit - with a digital twist. The film was shot in digital video, with Panasonic's AJ-PD900WA 2/3-inch DVCPRO50 Progressive camcorder.

"We wanted to get the best performance possible from the actors and that takes a lot of footage," explains [director María] Ripoll. "Shooting in 480P allowed us to have two cameras. It was a big creative plus to be able to shoot so much footage and we were able to capture more authentic reality because we could keep rolling longer."

Cinematographer [Xavier] Pérez Grobet reports that he and Ripoll originally wanted to shoot HD, but found it "too expensive." After testing a variety of different video cameras, they found the Panasonic AJ-PD900WA.

"The 480P tests were excellent," says Ripoll. "We were very, very happy with the look we got from the tests transferring 480P to film; 480P has a consistency like film." "We saw this as a new texture that we can explore," adds Pérez Grobet.

Pérez Grobet gathered tips on the camera from cinematographer Tony Salgado, who had shot several short films with the Panasonic camera. Learning from him to "be careful with whites and blacks, because there's a lack of detail if you go too extreme," Pérez Grobet used half-soft FX filters throughout the film to soften the image. Lighting was film-style with a package comprised of HMIs, tungsten, and Kino Flos.

Producer Manulis points out that the ability to maximize rehearsal and performance time was crucial. Digital video not only allowed them to use a B camera, to cover extra angles and roam the action, but also provided "the aesthetic attraction of being able to shoot in a practical location with a smaller package, less light, less heat, and fewer people," he says. Pérez Grobet calls himself quite satisfied with the results of his first-time 480P shoot.

"The exterior shots have a bit of video look due to the lighting," he admits. "But the interior shots look just like film."

With a 16-week post schedule, 'Tortilla Soup' is currently posting at Digital Difference in Santa Monica. The original 480P tapes are transferred to 3/4-inch and digitized into the Avid for offline editing. Using the EDL to up-res from the 480P masters to 1080i, the filmmakers next go into an HD online session for color-correction, compositing, and titles. For preview viewings and festival submissions, they output a DigiBeta tape. The finished HD master will then be transferred to 35mm negative. [From article by Debra Kaufman on the millimeter-website, 2001.]


 

 FILMS AT THE CCC

1985

Dulces y amargos/Sweet and Sour [Xavier Pérez Grobet (seg 'Marie'), Laila Heiblum, Sergio Muñoz, a.o.] 16mm/c; ph: ?; comp of 10 shorts

1987

La neta... no hay futuro/Fact Is... There's No Future [Andrea Gentile] 16mm/c; doc/26m

1989

Entrada de la noche/Deep in the Night [Pablo Gómez Sáenz] 16mm/c; short/38m

 

 FILMS

1989

El triste juego del amor [Juan Antonio de la Riva] c

1990

La mujer de Benjamín/Benjamin's Woman [Carlos Carrera] c; co-prod CCC

1991

Dentro de la noche [José Luis García Agraz] c

1991

La pelota que rebota [Jorge Pellicer] 16mm/c; doc/28m; cph: Ariel Castillero

1991

Amor y venganza [Hugo Rodríguez & Marina Stavenhagen] c

1992

The Harvest [David Marconi] c; 2uc; ph: Emmanuel Lubezki

1992

La vida conyugal/Conjugal Life [Carlos Carrera] c

1992

Hombre que no escucha boleros/A Man Who Won't Listen to Boleros [Ignacio Ortiz Cruz] c; short/11m

1993

Vagabunda/Tramp [Alfonso Rosas Priego II] c

1993

Amorosos fantasmas/Loving Ghosts/Phantoms in Love [Carlos García Agraz] c

1994

Pancho Villa and Other Stories [Phillip Rodriguez] dv/b&w-c; doc/40m; addph; ph: Claudio Rocha; interviews filmed 1986-94; released 1999

1994

La pasión de Iztapalapa [Nicolás Echevarría] c; doc/85m; cph: N. Echevarría

1994

Tres minutos en la oscuridad [Pablo Gómez Sáenz] c

1994

Sin remitente/Una carta de amor/No Return Address/Return to Sender [Carlos Carrera] c

1994

Algunas nubes [Carlos García Agraz] c; + small part

1995

Love Always/All Points Between [Jude Pauline Eberhard] c; cph: Stephen Lighthill

1995

Julio y su ángel/Julio and His Angel/Wings of an Angel [Jorge Cervera Jr.] c

1996

Los años Arruza/The Arruza Years [Emilio Maillé Iturbe] c; doc/57m

1996

¿Por qué nosotros no?/Why Don't We? [Jaime Humberto Hermosillo] c; short/4m

1997

De noche vienes, Esmeralda/Esmeralda Comes by Night [Jaime Humberto Hermosillo] c

1997

Santitos/Little Saints [Alejandro Springall] c

1997

Un Buñuel mexican/El Buñuel mexicano/A Mexican Buñuel [Emilio Maillé Iturbe] b&w-c; doc/56m; cph: E.M. Iturbe, Jean-Michel Humeau & Damien Morisot

1998

Sexo, pudor y lágrimas/Sex, Shame & Tears [Antonio Serrano] c

1999

Un maestro... Xavier Francis [Patricia González] b&w-c; doc/27m; cph: Eduardo Carrasco & Servando Gajá

1999

Before Night Falls/Antes que anochezca [Julian Schnabel] c; cph: Guillermo Rosas

2000

Le phénomène El Juli [Emilio Maillé Iturbe] DigiBeta/c/V; doc/52m

2000

Blossoms of Fire/Ramo de fuego [Maureen Gosling & Ellen Osborne] 16mm/c; doc/75m

2000

Tortilla Soup [María Ripoll] dv (Panasonic AJ-PD900WA)-to-35mm/c; 2uc: Mariana Sanchez; remake of 'Yin shi nan nu/Eat Drink Man Woman' (1993, Ang Lee; ph: Jong Lin); see above

2001

Bear's Kiss/El beso del oso/Il bacio dell'orso [Sergei Bodrov] c; addph: Sergei Astakhov; 2uc: Alexander Du Prel

2002

La hija del caníbal/Lucía, Lucía [Antonio Serrano] s35/c

2002

Chasing Papi/Papi chulo [Linda Mendoza] c

2002

21 Grams [Alejandro González Iñárritu] c; 2uc (+ co-c.op); ph: Rodrigo Prieto

2003

The Woodsman [Nicole Kassell] c; 2uc: Paul S. Magee

2004

Alone [Gregory Orr] c; short/30m

2004

Nine Lives [Rodrigo García] s16-35bu/c; Steadicam op: Dan Kneece & Henry Tirl; 'We shot nine stories, each one in a single Steadicam shot between 12 and 14 minutes. The only way we could do this movie was with a Digital Intermediate (DI), because we shot in locations with available light and few resources. Doing a DI helped us to define certain moments where the look is connected to the story's emotion.'

2004

Monster House [Gil Kenan] dv-to-35mm scope (+ D-Cinema [3-D version])/c; cph: Paul C. Babin; the film was made using 'performance capture', where the actors did all the movements by themselves, wearing wet suits, with sensors glued to their bodies; the movement was then transferred into a computer, and animation took place around their bodies

2005

Babel [Alejandro González Iñárritu] p+s16+35mm+s35-to-35mm (+ D-Cinema)/c; addph Mexico; ph: Rodrigo Prieto

2005

Nacho Libre [Jared Hess] c; 2uc: Ron Hersey

2006

Music and Lyrics [Marc Lawrence] c

2007

City of Ember [Gil Kenan] s35 (+ D-Cinema)/c; breakaway unit ph: Shaun O'Dell

2008

I Love You Phillip Morris [Glenn Ficarra & John Requa] 35mm (+ D-Cinema)/c

 

[Right] with dir Rodrigo García - "Mother and Child"

 

2009

Mother and Child [Rodrigo García] HD (Genesis)-to-35mm scope (+ D-Cinema)/c

2009

The Back-up Plan [Alan Poul] s35 (+ D-Cinema)/c; aph: Brian Heller

2011

What to Expect When You're Expecting [Kirk Jones] HD (ARRI ALEXA)-to-35mm scope (+ D-Cinema)/c; 2uc: Dave McFarland; uwph: Pete Romano

2012

Enough Said [Nicole Holofcener] HD (ARRI ALEXA Studio)-to-35mm (+ D-Cinema)/c

2013

Bering. Equilibrio y resistencia/Bering: Balance and Resistance [Lourdes Grobet] c; doc/80m

2013

Focus [Glenn Ficarra & John Requa] HD (ARRI ALEXA XT/Hawk Scope)-to-35mm (+ D-Cinema)/c; aph: Brian Heller

2015

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot/Fun House/The Taliban Shuffle [Glenn Ficarra & John Requa] HD (ARRI ALEXA XT)/c; aph: Hans Bjerno

 

 TELEVISION & INTERNET

2000

In the Time of the Butterflies/En el tiempo de las mariposas [Mariano Barroso] tvm

2002

[John Grisham's] A Painted House [Alfonso Arau] tvm/16mm; 2uc: Jeff Wolf

2003

Cavedweller [Lisa Cholodenko] tvm

2003

Deadwood [ep #7 'Bullock Returns to the Camp' dir by Michael Engler, #8 'Suffer the Little Children' dir by Daniel Minahan, #9 'No Other Sons or Daughters' dir by Edward Bianchi & #11 'Jewel's Boot Is Made for Walking' dir by Steve Shill] 36-part series, 2004-06; 1st season, 2004; other ph: Lloyd Ahern II (pilot), David Boyd & James Glennon

2004

Big Love [pilot dir by Rodrigo García] 53-part series, 2006-11; 1st season, 2006; other ph: Russ Alsobrook & James Glennon (+ cph pilot)

2007

In Treatment [ep #1 'Laura: Week One' dir by Rodrigo García (RG), #2 'Alex: Week One' dir by RG, #3 'Sophie: Week One' dir by RG, #4 'Jake and Amy: Week One' dir by RG & #5 'Paul and Gina: Week One' dir by RG] 106-part series/HD, 2008-10; 1st season, 2008; other ph: Fred Murphy, Steve Mathis & Patrick Cady

2008

Swingtown [pilot dir by Alan Poul] 13-part series, 2008; other ph: Joaquin Sedillo

2010

Scoundrels [ep #1-8 dir by various] 8-part series, 2010

2010

Enlightened [9 ep dir by various] 18-part series/s35-to-HD, 2011 & 2013; 1st season (10 ep), 2011; other ph (pilot): Lawrence Sher; 2uc: John Barr

2011

I Hate That I Love You [Nicole Holofcener] pilot; for NBC-tv

2012

Enlightened [8 ep dir by various] 2nd season, 2013 (8 ep); 2uc: John Barr; see 2010

2013

The Incident [David Anniello & Nick Citton] HD (Canon EOS C300)/c; short/12m; Lincoln (part of the Ford Motor Co.) lined up filmmakers for 3 short films to support its 'Reimagine Project' to raise awareness of the luxury brand's new redesigned vehicles; the films made their debut on Lincoln's 'Hello-Again' website and Lincoln.com on 11 September

2013

Back in the Game [pilot dir by Glenn Ficarra & Jon Requa] 13-part (3 unaired) series, 2013; other ph: Charles Minsky (#2-7, 9 & 11), Ken Glassing (#8, 10 & 12) & Tom Yatsko (#13)

2014

Jane the Virgin [ep #1 'Chapter One' dir by Brad Silberling] series/HD (ARRI ALEXA), 2014-present; 1st season, 2014-15 (22 ep)

2014

Marco Polo [ep #5 'Hashshashin' & #6 'White Moon' dir by Daniel Minahan] series/HD (Sony F55), 2014-present; 1st season, 2014 (10 ep); other ph: Romain Lacourbas (4 ep) & Vanja Cernjul (4 ep); for Netflix

2014

Looking [10 ep dir by various] 18-part series/HD, 2014-15; 2nd season, 2015 (10 ep)

2015

HBO's Looking Special [Andrew Haigh] special (2016); final chapter of HBO-tv series 'Looking'

 

 MISCELLANEOUS

1985

Xochimilco [Eduardo Maldonado Soto; doc/87m] c.asst; ph: Santiago Navarrete

1987

Chapultepec [dir; + scrpl/ed; doc/16m/16mm] ph: Guillermo Granillo; prod CCC

1988

Punto de arroz [Pablo Baksht Segovia; short/33m] co-ed; ph: Jorge Medina; prod CCC

1988

Last Rites [Donald P. Bellisario] co-c.asst; ph: David Watkin

1988

Revenge [Tony Scott] co-c.asst; ph: Jeffrey Kimball

1989

Total Recall [Paul Verhoeven] c.asst; ph: Jost Vacano

1990

Pure Luck [Nadia Tass] c.asst 2u; 2uc: Gabriel Torres & Peter F. Woeste; ph: David Parker

1992

Gunmen [Deran Sarafian] add c.op; ph: Hiro Narita

1993

La reina de la noche/The Queen of the Night [Arturo Ripstein] c.op; ph: Bruno de Keyzer

2002

21 Grams [Alejandro González Iñárritu] co-c.op (+ 2uc); ph: Rodrigo Prieto