Feature: In Conversation With... Rebeca Durán
Rebeca Durán is a New Mexico-based director, camera operator and cinematographer from El Paso, Texas. Miss En Scene caught up with Rebeca for this Q&A as part of #FemaleFilmmakerFriday.
Clare - Miss En Scene: First of all, can you tell us about what you do as a filmmaker and what this involves?
Rebeca: I am a Camera Operator in Local 600 but have been moving towards directing and cinematography. When hired on a production as a cam op, I am the person operating the camera, framing shots and so forth. One may have a script and shot-list to refer to but you are always in constant communication with the Director of Photography and the Director. Since I am also an UAS pilot, at times I am double-tasked with aerial work, i.e, flying a drone. In regards to my work as a director and cinematographer, two of my primary objectives is to motivate the talent in giving a great performance and to create the "look" of the film through lighting and camera/lens choices. The end goal is to tell a story that is visually captivating while still adhering to my integrity as an artist, as a filmmaker.
C: What or who inspired you to get behind the camera and into film?
R: Fritz Lang's Metropolis is what initially inspired me to get into film. You could ask anyone who knows me on a personal level---best friends, family, ex-boyfriends---I love Metropolis. It is a German science fiction film from 1927 and at the time, it was the most expensive movie ever made. Without a doubt, you see Fritz Lang's genius approach in every scene and I remember being 5-years-old and thinking to myself, "I want to do that. I want to make awesome movies." Few years later, the works of Scorcese, Agnieszka Holland, Wes Anderson and Bergman really propelled me to focus on screenwriting and directing. But you know, music as well has always played in a role in what I do. A good song could really get my mind going. The other day, it was the Marianne Faithfull cover of Cat Stevens' "Sad Lisa" and immediately I began to visualize the plot for a possible project.
C: What's the best project that you've worked on to date?
R: To date, the arthouse film/music video I did for Lindy Vision, Adult Children Part II. The band did not want a typical performance music video but wanted to showcase their entire album through a conceptual, narrative film. I have directed and shot shorts before but never have I done a music video, let alone a project this ambitious. The project got me out of my comfort zone as a filmmaker but throughout pre-production, the enthusiasm and sisterly reassurance from the group eased my anxieties. I will admit---it was a tough shoot, as we had no budget! But the opportunity and experience I would never trade for. Collaborations with other women will always be worthwhile for me because at the end of the day in any industry, we need to have each other's backs.
C: What's the film scene like in New Mexico, where you're based?
R: The film scene in New Mexico is great. Most of the crew I have worked with have been very amicable and supportive. It seems like everyone knows everyone and often than not, you are working with the same colleagues on a string of projects.
C: As a female filmmaker, what has your experience been like in the industry so far?
R: As a female filmmaker, my experience in the film industry has been positive for the most part. There is this gradual yet paramount force across the world lifting women's rights to a higher state of equality, and this very force has been felt and seen in the film industry. More women than ever are occupying all departments of any given production, and so one begins to develop an altruistic bond with her fellow female colleagues. I still experience sexism and as someone who is from Mexico, I do encounter prejudice from time to time. However, I never let negativity and hatred deter me from what I have set to do, and I always encourage others in similar situations to do the same---your time and your worth is valuable!
C: Are there any misconceptions about filmmaking that you would like to erase or set straight?
R: The one common misconception I often hear is how "easy" filmmaking is. I don't know why or how someone could be that assumptive about any field. On bigger productions, we typically have a 12-14 hour work day and most crew positions are physically and mentally demanding. Night schedules are the worst, but they come with the territory.
C: For anyone - particularly women and girls - wanting to get into film, what advice would you give them?
R: There is not a right or wrong approach. I went to New York University and could honestly say I got a lot of technical experience from their film program. So if you want to go to school, I highly recommend NYU - Tisch but one does not need a university program to learn about filmmaking. Read scripts. Watch films. Pick up a camera, even if all you have is your iPhone. I also would encourage young filmmakers to reach out to local creatives and ask to intern because it is bound to happen for someone to take you under their wing. One last piece of advice I want to give---girls, please don't become discouraged and never give up on your goals because your story needs to be heard. No matter how difficult the struggle, always find a way to amplify your voice because the world is listening.
C: Where do you see the film industry going in the next couple of years?
R: I see the film industry as more inclusive to not just women, but to people of all backgrounds. Even though it is 2020, and a lot of progress has been made in the last hundred years, as a society we still have far to go but I am hopeful for the future of film. In regards to the arts, there is less censorship and people no longer want to hear the same old fairy tales. They want to connect to someone who is altogether different from them because learning and growth through the reflection of another person is part of the human experience, no?
C: Finally, what projects are you working on next?
R: I have two projects at the start of fall time. One is a music video for a female hip hop artist out in Los Angeles and I am just beyond excited to be working with her. The other project is a teaser for a scifi-horror feature I'm wanting to get off the ground.