Aimee Galicia Torres is a cinematographer whose upcoming documentary John deals with the sex trade industry; here is a link to her website:
Q: What made you interested in cinematography?
A: I became interested in filmmaking ever since I was a kid. In fact, when I was a child, my parents got me an agent, and I did commercial work and acting. However, I knew from the very get go, that being in front of the camera was in fact not for me. I fell in love with cinematography in film school, and being able to transfer a set into a whole different world, became fascinating to me. In hopes of becoming a better director, I set myself, working myself up as a cinematographer, in order to be able to work alongside other directors while I developed my craft. In turn, it has made me a better all around filmmaker. Not only am I able to visually tell the story thru application of light, shadow, and framing, I can do in a matter that is cost effective and visually captivating.
Q: Who are some of your influences?
Q: What made you interested in making a film about the sex trade industry?
A: I became interested in making a film about the sex trade industry, because I myself, am an abuse activist and survivor of sexual abuse. I recently formed a nonprofit 501(c)3 called the Majestic Dreams Foundation, an organization that provides exposure and awareness of ALL forms of abuse through various mediums such as film. There in particular, I became an activist against human trafficking and sexual exploitation, where I have been feature on Al Jazeera English, as well as CNN’s Anderson 360 show. Through my activism, I met real-life human trafficking survivor and activist Michelle Carmela, and became good friends with her. Through our friendship, we developed a very close bond, and I decided to help Michelle, with her life-long dream of creating a documentary based on her life’s story. The title of our upcoming feature documentary is called “John,” in which we are actively seeking donations and investments at this time to bring this film into completion. In this film, we interview real-life human trafficking/abuse survivors, Michelle Carmela and Nick, as they share their stories of abuse, survival, and recovery. Despite growing up in two very different parts of the United States, Michelle and Nick later uncover the truth to their captors and their direct link to organized crime. http://www.gofundme.com/47msdw
Q: What kind of research did you do for the film?
A: We did a lot of various research for the film, such as digging thru our list of resources from various human trafficking organizations such as our own. In fact, Michelle Carmela is an expert in her own right through the human trafficking community for both sexual exploitation and organized crime. She has been speaking for over 30 years, and educating some of the top organizations in the business.
Q: What sort of visual effect are you looking to achieve in the film?
A: The kind of visual affect we are trying to achieve in the feature film, “John,” is to transcend a visually empowering film that will inspire audiences world-wide. Using my skills as a cinematographer, I am going to shoot this film no different than I would for many of my clients.
Q: Do you think things have gotten better or worse for female crew members in Hollywood in the last ten years?
A: I think that things have changed drastically for female crew members in the industry within the past 10 years that I have been it. One thing is for sure, there are a lot more females wanting to pursue positions in the camera, electrical, and grip departments. When I started, I was usually the only female on set behind-the-camera, now there are a lot more. However one thing that has definitely not changed in this business is the lack of respect for women behind the camera. Unfortunately, women do not make as much as men in this industry despite having more if not the same experience in that given category. Women are not respected behind the camera, and are expected to not know as much as the men. Women are very much babied on set, and sometimes it can be very frustrating. I worked on nearly every department, as a Gaffer, Key Grip, 1st Camera Assistant, and I never thought I was any different. I worked my butt off, to prove my worth, that not only could I excel, but be better than most of the men on the sets I’ve worked on.
Q: Have you ever had a difference of opinion with a director; how did you deal with it?
A: In my career, I have had a series of disagreements with many of the directors I’ve worked with. But that is all in a day’s work. My job is to bring the director’s vision to life, by transforming it into light, shadow, and composition. So in the best interest of the film, I always manage to ease the director’s mind, that I am there to help see their vision through. That usually ends the dispute. Given the fact most of the directors I work with are first time directors, there will be a share of disputes and disagreements, but at the end of the day, I am there to do my job and do the best work possible.
Q: What’s your strangest LA story?
A: I wish I could pinpoint the one strangest LA story, but there are simply too many to just write down. I can however name a very recent memory. When a couple of us were out in April, we were obtain b-roll footage for my documentary, “John,” it was around 4am in the morning in Western Ave in Koreatown. We were driving by, and on camera, we saw two men having sex literally in broad daylight at the curb. As we drove by, they made eye contact with my driver, and still continued to have sex. That was one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen.
Q: What film do you think had the best cinematography in the history of film (why)?
A: One of the best films up to date that I personally feel had the best cinematography up to date would be, “The Prestige.” The colors and framing was so beautifully captivating. Also, another favorite of mine was “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Another great example of great color.
Q: What is the most common mistake young filmmakers make?
A: The common mistake that young filmmakers make is the lack of production value and planning they make on their beginning projects. A lot of new filmmakers overlook these details that might seem minor, and it ends up costing them at the end. For example, a lot of new filmmakers try to skimp out by hiring a Cinematographer or Gaffer only based on the fact they have the equipment, when in fact they should be going by the person’s reel. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make something look great, but you really should invest your time and research to make your film the best that it can possibly be. Most people who come in this business want to come in and think they can make their way into the director’s seat right away, but people need to know, that sometimes you got to start from the ground up, and work your way from various departments to become the best director you can be. Learning more, and getting experience in as many departments, will make you a better director, a better filmmaker. There is so much to making a great film than simply turning on a camera and shooting. What makes a great film is the attention to details, and sure application of it.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)