The Argentine director reflects on his recent signing to Rocket Film and why trying to understand the world fills up a lot of his thoughts
Joaquín Güiraldes was born in Argentina and moved to the US when he was 12. There, he discovered his love for film while binge-watching old movies from his local library. Joaquín returned to Argentina to attend film school at the University of Buenos Aires where he received a degree in film and sound. He began his career editing at Argentina’s renowned Argentinacine and then went on to edit at David The Agency, where he developed a passion for directing. Joaquín’s background in editing and in the agency world influences his work, which is classic storytelling supported by a methodical planning process.
Since signing with Rocket Film earlier this year, Joaquín has directed for Purina, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and most recently a spot for the Netflix movie ‘Klaus’. Get to know him better below.
LBB> Why did you decide to make the move to Rocket?
Joaquín> I didn't have a US rep and a friend recommended I talk to (among others) Rocket. My first call with Klaus lasted over 40 minutes in which we talked about everything from movies to the environment to life itself. I realised pretty quickly that we shared a very similar view about what's truly important in life and in work.
LBB> What is it about the team there that clicks for you?
Joaquín> There is a comradery that is refreshing. Everybody is genuinely happy when someone in the group does well. I've also found that everyone takes their work seriously, but not themselves. We can be friendly and funny without losing professionalism.
LBB> How did you first get into the industry? What was your very first job in the industry?
Joaquín> My first job was pulling references for treatments. Through a friend, I visited a shoot where Augusto Gimenez Zapiola was the director. I talked to him during a break and he said to go to the Argentinacine (his production company) office, that they'd give me something to do. I went and talked to Federico, who did the treatments at the time and he asked me to look for references. Luckily I was fresh out of college and all I did was watch every movie I came across and I have a pretty good memory, so after a few months of being useless I started finding some good stuff and I was in.
LBB> Before doing what you do now, did you work in any other field/ have any different career paths?
Joaquín> I worked odd jobs until I ‘found’ my career path. I put ‘found’ in quotes because although in retrospect it seems like a natural progression, it felt pretty sinuous at the time. I started with references, then wrote treatments. Then I became an editor's assistant, then an editor for years, and finally an agency producer before getting to the director's chair. At many points, I wondered where I was indeed on the right path, but I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by people who have both inspired and encouraged me to keep pushing forward.
LBB> And which creative talents in your field have inspired you in your own career?
Joaquín> I think there's too many to list. These days I see anything by Edgar Wright, Christopher Nolan, and Denis Villeneuve.
LBB> What was your first creative milestone in the industry – the project you worked on that you were super proud of?
Joaquín> I guess it's the obvious choice, but the first commercial I shot as a director is the one that comes to mind. After many years trying to get to that place, finally walking on to that first set was incredible.
LBB> And what recent projects are you proudest of and why?
Joaquín> I recently shot a spot to promote the Netflix movie ‘Klaus’. We went to a small town in Entre Rios, Argentina to tell the story of Omar, a local bricklayer who had built a movie theater (with his own hands) after the local cinema closed. After the shoot, we had the premiere for ‘Klaus’ at Omar's tiny theatre. When he saw how much care we put, both in telling his story and in renovating his theater for the premiere he broke down crying while thanking us. Having a man that generously thanked us was incredibly humbling and inspiring.
LBB> What really drives you creatively?
Joaquín> Being a storyteller, getting a good script and turning it into a great film, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
LBB> What are the aspects of your work that you really obsess over?
Joaquín> Composition and rhythm in the service of storytelling. I like to understand what each shot does and how it moves the story along.
LBB> How would you describe your approach to your work?
Joaquín> I aim for precision in my storytelling and this means I don't like to shoot coverage. I storyboard with this in mind and then work closely with production designers and DPs to make sure each shot is doing its job. This way we go on set knowing what we need and once we get it we can move on. Ideally, the spot can only be edited in one way.
LBB> When it comes to enjoying the creativity of others, what sort of thing excites and inspires you?
Joaquín> Good poetry and prose. Wit, humour. Hearing a new idea, or an old idea told in a new way. Writing that’s concise, clear, inspiring. I think good writing is the engine behind any successful job.
LBB> Outside of work, what are you passionate about?
Joaquín> Traveling with my wife, getting to know new places, new people, new cultures. I am naturally curious and trying to understand what makes the world go round takes up a lot of my mental space. I do not as of yet have the answer but will keep looking. Also, as a stereotypical Argentine, I have an unhealthy relationship with my soccer team, River Plate.