Medicos Del Mundo - EVA Virus

Sometimes you stumble upon projects that are really really rewarding and where you can express yourself as an artist. Médicos Del Mundo is one of them. Chema Sayago, a producer friend of mine, gave me a call last November and asked me if I was available to shoot a really small project for a NGO called Medicos Del Mundo… I obviously said yes!

He told me that the director was going to be Borja Larrondo, whom I didn't know at the time. I was a bit nervous about that because from what I gathered, I saw that he was a really good director, an amazing photographer, and his work was always extremely impressive. On top of that, he had a couple of awards like a Lion from Cannes and a Clio... so yeah, saying that I was nervous is an understatement!

Anyways! We met through a Skype call on the following day and we connected straight away.. he is such a humble person! and super open to ideas from collaborators! It was like if I had been talking to a friend of mine whom I had known since we were kids! Hence, I took the first plane from Dublin to Madrid that day and we started doing our location scouting the following day. We had 10 locations to shoot in just 1 day (12 hours) so we went to the locations two or three times before the shooting day to make sure that we knew what we wanted to do, how we wanted to do it and what kind of things we could improvise.

Regarding lighting those 10 locations, we had a set of rules that Borja and myself established in our conversations:

1. No mixing colours
2. Create an imperfect lighting yet very natural
3. Be humble and invisible so our characters didn’t feel intimidated by the lighting set ups
4. Lighting from outside letting the light create natural shadows and contrast
5. Shoot at 3200 ASA to have a lot of noise
6. Build the world where our characters live from the locations and capture the truth of each space.

At some point, we started to think that it would be interesting to mix formats and create the sense of despair and loneliness through different empty shots and close ups of the locations with a different texture. So, we decided that for those shots we would use 35mm (Kodak Vision 3 500 T pushed 1 stop) in order to get a rougher image than the one that the Alexa was going to give us. We shot on 35mm also, which added a bit of pressure (as if we didn't have any!) to our schedule... mainly because it had to be edited and graded 3 days after the shooting day and there was a weekend in between. The cost of processing and scanning in Cinelab was astronomic for our production, so we decided to not process the film during the weekend and wait for them to process it during the week. They edited the project leaving empty spaces for the 35mm shots and the producers convinced the client to wait for those shots because they were going to make the project way better. When the shots came in, Borja chose the ones that he liked, Nuria (our editor) inserted them, and I went to the colour grading place for 15 minutes to make sure that they looked exactly as we wanted them to look.

All in all, I reckon that our trips to the locations, our conversations and the magnificent team that Chema was able to put together gave us all the freedom we needed to create something memorable for a really important cause.

About the Artist

I came up through the ranks working for 10 years as a camera assistant under distinguished cinematographers like Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, Janusz Kaminski, Rodrigo Prieto, Mikhail Krichman, David Devlin and many more.

Working on films such as Iñarritu’s BIUTIFUL and NIKE: WRITE THE FUTURE, Soderbergh’s GUERRILLA, Almodovar’s BROKEN HUGS, Mangold’s KNIGHT AND DAY or Sheridan’s THE SECRET SCRIPTURE and TV Series such as PENNY DREADFUL and VIKINGS allowed me to learn the craft of film making from some of the best cinematographers in the world.

Thanks to Chivo’s way of understanding natural life and to Janusz Kaminski’s creativity, who showed me that narrative and light is all about emotions and personal choices, I started to create a characteristic way of looking at life and now I work around the world shooting commercials, short-films and features.

More of Miguel’s work can be seen on his Website and on Instagram

Short FilmsRyan Berg