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The Directors: David Tembleque

The Directors 79 Add to collection

The Spanish director at The Brownie Film Co reflects on stunning aesthetics alongside human performance

The Directors: David Tembleque

Born in Galicia, Northern Spain, David graduated from Madrid’s EFTI Film School with a Masters Degree in Film Direction and worked as a fashion photographer for four years before becoming a director and shooting fashion films and ad campaigns for international clients such as Vogue, L'Oreal, Vanity Fair, Bvlgari, Lancome and Zara. 

His work combines a stunning aesthetic with real human performance and emotion.  

His short film ‘Dear Tom’, part of the official selection at Sundance, along with his other short, ‘Wonderful People’, share shortlists in over 60 international film festivals, as well as awards and special mentions, and have been featured on Nowness and online film publications like DSLR Cinema. 

David is represented worldwide for commercials & content by The Brownie Film Co. 

What elements of a script make it stand out against another for you, and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them?

Since I started my career as a fashion photographer, I love receiving scripts from creatives that show that they don’t box me in to that one particular genre, but rather give me the chance to deviate and make something original…that’s a great boost!


How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

I generally like to think about how my favourite directors would interpret the film: Spike Lee, Gordon Von Steiner, Gustav Johansson for example...Then imagine and visualise the film in my head, the shots, the framing, the rhythm, the edit.  The tough part is making that vision 'seen' by the agency and client. 

If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with, or you don’t have a big affinity with, is for a market you are new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand the strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

It can be important, but often I’m invited to pitch a project to actually break with the past, tradition. To bring a fresh, new perspective and added value to the brand’s communication. 


For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person when making an ad? And why? 

I’d have to say the most important relationship, the one you have to work at the most is actually the one you have with your sentimental partner!  If you don’t have a good, strong relationship with your wife or girlfriend then it makes our line of work next to impossible because who can possibly understand the hours we spend working to make a 30 second film?!  

Although affairs of the heart do often inspire me during the creative process: when my girlfriend left me a note to break up and say that she was returning to China, that served as inspiration for my short film ‘Dear Tom.’ While the relationship was a bust, the film was fortunate to be selected at more than 40 festivals, appeared on Nowness and was shortlisted to screen at Sundance.  For me, this was the indication that when you do something of your own, something original, it does get to people because they immediately connect to the truth in your work.


What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

To be honest, no matter what genre the film is I always try to make it mine…make something that inspires me. That generally means making beautiful images, with my point of view, so that even when directing comedy, for instance, maintaining a great aesthetic is really important to me.


What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter, and why is it wrong?

People believe that if you’re director, all you do is shoot, all the time. Surrounded by celebrities, having a great time with the camera. That’s what you see on Instagram… And to a certain extent, it can be true. 

However, what people don’t see are the countless hours of work behind the shoot, the often challenging pre-production process, and above all, the number of pitches we do as directors and don’t win. 


Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been? 

Unless that’s what you’re calling my producer when he says I can’t have a new gadget on the shoot, then no!


What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

The list is infinite, but I once shot with a celebrity who came to the set after three hours of lighting prep, sat down at the shoot, and said “I cannot have the light on me from this angle, it has to come from over here which is my good side”… So, we had to change everything around last minute.  


How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client, whilst also protecting the idea?

As a director you have to understand that ultimately, it’s not your film but the client's. But what’s important is to make them see that what the agency and yourself as a filmmaker are trying to contribute in order to make their film great, is always to their advantage.


What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

I think it's great that there’s a greater diversity of directors on set, more and more women, LGTBI etc., but I also I recognise that it requires an effort to change things...  We can get comfortable shooting with the same talent pool, and in order to open up to a greater talent pool we often have to really stop ourselves and think "OK, could we give someone else an opportunity here?”

How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work in the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time?

Washing my hands until they fall off, not being able to whisper in my DoP’s ear before each shot, having to shout over to each other during lunch, not being able to have that celebratory hug with all the crew when you wrap a shoot.. the list goes on… what can I say? I really think that if we don’t die trying, we’ll all come out of this stronger! 


Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)? 

You have to prioritise. I think that these days, trying to achieve perfect 16:9 framing that also works perfectly in 9:16 Instagram, when we have ever less time to shoot, isn’t really feasible. One of the two formats will always be less interesting because you’re shooting wider to leave enough space for this new vertical format.

Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why?

‘Nosotras’ (Us)

A piece that I directed for Netflix to promote ‘Cable Girls’. I really love this piece in so many ways, and I’m honoured that it won several Lovie Awards.

‘The Campamento’ 

This spot features the brand’s new kids collection. I always love shooting with kids as they are so spontaneous and free, allowing for a certain level of improvisation, which I love. 

‘Dear Tom’ 

I met a girl a year ago. We dated for three months and I filmed our private moments together. One day, I woke up and she was gone, leaving a goodbye voice message on my phone. The girl in the film is the narrator herself. There are no actors and no budget. It was filmed with a camera the size of a hand and a lot of love. What you see is our real story. 

Vanity Fair ‘Broken Queens’ 

I love this spot. It’s so different to the rest of my work, with a dark and mysterious production design. Working with the photographer Erwin Olaf was an amazing experience.

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THE BROWNIE FILM Co., Mon, 11 Jan 2021 14:47:13 GMT