Zeferino interviews DOP Anna Molins
Today at Zeferino Professional Lighting we want to share our interview with the director of photography Anna Molins. She began her studies at ESCAC film school to focus on the photographic direction. Born in Montmeló, she has taken part in numerous film projects as well as in advertising. She is specialized in the animation technique stopmotion, reason why she takes great care of the camera and the light down to the very last detail. Among her projects we find commertials for Nestle, Estrella Damm, or Tous, and music videos for Carlos Sadness and Lori Meyers.
Which were your beginnings in the direction of photography?
After I went to film school, I started working as an assistant for a few years to learn and see how this world works from the inside. At the same time I shot my first short films. I bought a DSLR camera along with Lyona , filmmaker and friend of my year. And we started shooting music videos non-stop. There was no budget and we did it for free, with just a couple of bulbs.
In each project we tried to do new things. We set up three-minute stories and then we had to come up with ideas to create spaces and atmospheres out of nowhere. Those were my beginnings, the battle. During that time I was able to learn what I liked and disliked, and I experienced how to work the light and the camera in a thousand different ways. We had the chance to make mistakes and then learn from them, improve little by little.
What has been your most relevant job or the one you feel more proud of?
I have been lucky enough to work on very different projects. With the experience of being able to shoot very different stories. I learn from each and every project. It is satisfying when you set challenges and you are able to accomplish them, when you work as a team and the goals are achieved.
I usually work in projects of stop motion, illuminating dolls that come to life frame by frame. That meticulous work of light, almost crazy, is afterwards rewarded when you see those frames in motion. On a real scale you would solve the same situation in a more comfortable way, with space, but in this case you have achieved it in two centimeters. That gives me a rush, even though no one knows
Sometimes, what is rewarding is how you solve a situation as team, rather than getting a brilliant light. It usually happens when you have no material, when there is no time left, when there are no trucks or the moment you just thought would be perfect, actually it is not. That is, when you are filming a documentary.
This shows you that sometimes “your light” is not as important as the story that is going to happen. That does not mean that you don’t have to work, but you need to be fast, get the camera, look around, and make a decision with what you have: a cloth, a light bulb, a spotlight, a window…
What device do you always take to a shooting? Why?
It always depends on the budget you have and the type of project. The days have not yet come to have the truck well filled, so I usually ask for the spotlights I’m going to work with. That forces you to prepare the filming very well with the gaffer.
I always request HMI Fresnel 1’2Kw or 575w and Kinos. Now I would add the Celeb and the lightweight Flexible LEDs, because you can place them quickly in every corner and work them both by color temperature and intensity.
I soften the light a lot so I always tend to have near me reflectors and diffusers.
If you could ask for a light made-to-measure, what features would you ask for?
In general I would ask to spend fewer kilowatts on the shootings. The perfect light should be powerful, but with a much lower consumption, lighter and less noisier.
What DP’s have influenced you?
There were many directors of photography that I looked upon when I started, such as Aguirresarobe, Néstor Almendros, J.Luís Alcaine, Emmanuel Lubezki, Roger Deakins, Jean-Claude Larrieu. And they are still referents in photography.
Currently and thanks to the social networks you can discover the work of many interesting DP’s who may not be on top, but who are worth it. There you can also find female directors of photography who have been working for years, but have had not much visibility like Ellen Kuras, Mandy Walker, Reed Morano or Elisabet Prandi, the only female director of photography that I got to meet and whom I learned when I started. She made the way easier for those who came behind her.
How do you think the position of director of photography will evolve?
I suppose that with new technologies we will have to take better control of all the postproduction process. More and more we leave last minute things that in the past we used to solve while shooting. It is about finding balance and controlling the image during and after the shooting.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who is starting in this world?
To everyone who wants to be part of this, I would tell them that you need to really want it. Because it is very vocational. If this is your dream, then is fine to study and have all the technique sort out, but then you need to shoot a lot and learn again with experience. Whatever you do, you do it with goals. And with teamwork. You need to be self-critical and humble. This is a long-distance race and experience comes only by watching, learning and shooting.