Mon, 10 Jan 2022 08:30:30 GMT
At once tactile, spiritual and enticing, the work of filmmaker/photographer Mauricio Sierra can be seen now in campaigns for Vogue LATAM, Netflix “Narcos” and Sotol Los Magos. The multi-disciplined artist is known for a unique organic-looking aesthetic that reflects a bridge between digital perfection and the imperfection of real life: “My mind is very linked to technology,” Sierra says. “My ‘soul’ is analog.”
Sierra has photographed and directed campaigns for brands such as HBO, Chanel, Dior, Nike, Diesel, Swarovski and many others. Repped stateside by Logan Industry, and working closely with the shop’s Founding Partner/EP José Nuñez, Sierra is focusing his talents on opportunities in commercials and content with automotive, sports, beer & spirits and luxury brands, and is currently in post production on a narrative short film which delves into the world of magical realism. He shares insights about his work, his passion for storytelling, his relationship with the desert and much more, in our Q&A below.
Q> Where did you grow up?
Mauricio> I was raised in Mexico City until I was 19. I knew I wanted to do movies. I wanted to become a director, I just didn’t know how. I came from a family of engineers. They had no idea how to help me. I always leaned towards art, not science, and I’ve always had an ability to draw. That was the easiest path to take. My parents took me and my brother once to Florida to MGM Studios. There was a tour showing artists at Disney working on the feature film Tarzan. I wanted to stay on that tour all day. I had this longing to be on the other side of the window. Eventually I studied Graphic Design at university in Mexico City.
Then I got a chance to meet Paolo Rivera and Humberto Ramo at Marvel Comics. They were the rock star artists of comic books. They encouraged me to build my portfolio. I eventually went to Seneca College at York University in Toronto and met amazing artists there. I started studying 3D animation, then I moved into VFX. I worked in the industry in New York City in post production doing animation for MTV. I also worked on Fox animation for all the sports channels. Then I moved on to doing the packaging for the Super Bowls. Those were big accounts. We were just a team of 4 or 5 people and we were all creating for ABC back then.
Q> How did you get started in fashion?
Mauricio> My brother was doing fashion photography, trying to get into the industry. At that time, SLR camera technology was evolving. For the first time, with a small camera with great lenses, you could actually capture video. I asked my brother to shoot videos and send them to me. I replaced all the backgrounds for everything that he shot, changing locations and looks, all digitally. My brother was impressed, he suggested we propose this process to brands, as well as big photographers. They approached Mario Testino and Mert & Marcus, who were the rock stars of fashion photography at that time. They loved what we were doing. We did all these videos for them, and they projected them as massive videos on buildings around New York City.
We had a tiny studio in New York where we started experimenting with photography and video and we came up with Stills In Motion, aka S&M. We were playing with this idea of images that were moving. We were making them in 3D and other formats. I was one of the pioneers in digital image making. Gifs and cinemagraphs were experiments happening at the time and I was mixing media such as CGI with real photography to make images move in a new way. Soon, we started making a lot of noise in Europe through Nowness because we were creating a lot of videos and showing them in digital publications. We signed with Premiere Heure. In New York we got representation, and our careers started happening.
Q> How did you transition to filmmaker?
Mauricio> Well, it began with post production. I am a generalist in anything that has to do with post production. A generalist touches on many things. Usually they’re versatile artists. They’re plastic artists. We have a clear understanding of the technique vs the art. Intuitively I started learning about lighting, camera moves, framing and photography all done inside the computer. I realized I wanted to try that out in real life. My mind is very linked to technology, my “soul” to analog. That is why the work has a special look to it. It is a hybrid, I would say. The first time I picked up a camera, I already knew how it worked. When you’re creating something in 3D it’s super perfect and what you’re looking for with a camera is that organic look which is very imperfect. In reality a line is not straight. It’s not mathematical. There are many variations. In cinema and photography, you have to work the other way around. You have to make some really unperfect thing look as perfect as you can.
Q> Tell us about your work on the Los Magos Sotol film
Mauricio> I had been thinking about creating a piece that would take place in the desert. I had just moved back to Mexico City when the pandemic hit. A friend at VOGUE recommended me to Los Magos Sotol. They were looking for an artist who understood Mexico and who had an artistic eye to create something fresh. The Sotol brand is not Mezcal, it’s not tequila. It’s a plant that only grows in the mountains, in the desert. When Los Magos and I spoke I knew right away this would be an incredible project. They gave me carte blanche, they were so cool to let me create a vision for them, a world similar to perfumes. Perfumes and Alcohol share the same qualities, both of them live in the spectrum of fantasy and luxury. Both of them are spirits, they evaporate. They’re very ephemeral. And they also transport you to places. Smells take you places. I wanted to capture that spirit. I am a fan of Old Legends and a history buff (Los Magos are the three kings) so by mixing those two, Los Magos the film came to life.
Q> Tell us about your Vogue editorial shoot Warrior Akima “Mystical Journey.”
Mauricio> We were going to Chihuahua to shoot AKIMA for Magos. I spoke to Karla Martinez, editor in chief of Vogue LATAM, about the project we were filming and she loved the idea and thought we could make a magazine story based on these incredible locations in the Chihuahuan desert. It was crazy, once we got there. The desert is unpredictable and merciless. And coincidentally, it’s also Narcos land, so it’s very dangerous. We were a little bit skeptical at first. It was a bit nerve wracking. I wanted to tap into all of that unpredictable and dangerous energy in the project. Of course when you really experience the desert, it is also magical. Valentia Collado, the Fashion Director for Vogue Mexico and LATAM, came on board with her incredible ideas for styling and between the three of us we put together a gorgeous story with an incredible look.
LBB> Your recent Narcos work really captures the characters. How did you bring that to life?
Mauricio> Narcos was so awesome to create. Hanifa Harris, a photo editor at Netflix, contacted me. She loved some Day of the Dead pictures and moods I have on my Instagram, and some still life painting-like photos I had been working on at home. When I spoke to them they asked me to do exactly the same thing. They needed something with lots of personality and they wanted a Mexican artist who understood not only Mexico but also the American creative and commercial way of working. And that is what 22 years abroad gave me. I am so lucky to have been able to work in perhaps the most iconic series on NETFLIX. I also had the chance to see incredible directors work on set, such as Alejandra Márquez Abella.
LBB> What kind of work are you focusing on with Logan in the U.S. market?
Mauricio> José is my hero. When I met him I felt he understood me and my work. We appreciate the same things. He is an incredible entrepreneur and a great coach. His experience inspired me to follow him as he knows what it takes to make narrative work and commercials. We are focusing on commercial and narrative projects that will grow our respective reputations. The brands I hope to work with are cars, sports - especially something with boxing because I’d love to make a film with Canelo Álvarez - Victoria Cerveza beer, luxury products and of course spirits.
Q> What or who inspires you as an artist and as a filmmaker?
Mauricio> I think that music is the genesis of absolutely everything. I attended the conservatory of music for a career in piano from an early age. I can’t think of an idea if I don’t have music playing in my head. Pretty much every project that I work on, creative or commercial, I always create a playlist for it. When I am writing or pulling images for references, I am listening to the soundtrack of that campaign or creative piece that I want to create. Music brings order to things. Music gives me the understanding of timing and it has always opened my imagination. All my ideas start in music. My first boss told me when you bring typography into a chaotic image, you suddenly bring order. The same thing happens with music. For me, 80% of success comes from music, the rest is images. If the music is good, you have a successful piece.
Q> What’s next?
Mauricio> A short film called Ciela. It’s a magical realist story about a little girl and an octopus we filmed in the Yucatan Peninsula. We’re planning on a film festival run this year. Stay tuned!view more - Trends and InsightLogan Industry, Mon, 10 Jan 2022 08:30:30 GMT