By Daniel Esparza
With more than 23 years of experience in production and distribution of audiovisual stories and more than 35 awards from acclaimed film festivals, Guarango Cine y Video has become one of the leading production houses in Peru, with many of its projects televised on BBC World, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, TELESUR, TV Peru, RED TV and Canal N del Peru. Based in Lima, Guarango offers a range of services including colour grading of films, international documentaries, trailers and local brand ads.
Just over a year ago, Guarango founder Ernesto Cabellos and executive producer Ricardo Cabellos embarked on a mission to write, direct and classify their main project “Hija de la Laguna” (“Daughter of the Lagoon”). The acclaimed documentary is now available on Netflix, and it is about a woman who can communicate with water spirits to prevent a mining corporation from destroying the lake she considers her mother.
The film takes place in the Andes, and its focus was on nature, often becoming a character of its own. To make sure the backdrop was full of life, Guarango relied on DaVinci Resolve Studio 12.5 for the colour grading of the documentary. Guarango cited DaVinci Resolve’s ease of use and numerous tools as part of the film’s success. The documentary took about a year to complete, and Guarango had to make sure that they complied with Netflix’s strict guidelines by delivering the film to them for distribution.
Interview with Guarango Cine y Vídeo
How did Guarango Cine y Vídeo come about?
Guarango was born in 1993 from the inquisitiveness of young filmmakers to tell stories that reflect their feelings and express their views on the Peruvian and Latin American reality. We were fortunate enough to have Stefan Kaspar as a mentor and guide, a Swiss producer in love with Peru who stayed in Lima and made several films in the 1980s that are considered classics of Peruvian cinema, such as “Gregorio” and “Juliana”.
The internet had not yet arrived in Lima, and all we had to keep us connected to the world was Stefan’s fax machine, his subscriptions to film magazines and the stories he told us of his trips to film festivals and meetings of international producers.
Celluloid reigned supreme back then and we, the youngest, had no option but to use analogue video as a tool to express ourselves. There was a marked gap between those of us who used Hi8, S-VHS or ¾ and those who used 16mm and 35mm film, and filmmakers seemed to look down on videotapes with disdain. However, with the appearance of DV in 1995, the gap began to narrow, and in a few years’ time, Guarango was ready to take the plunge into digital video, without having to go through the expensive celluloid.
The audiovisual industry has undergone enormous changes over the last two decades. Which of these changes have affected you the most?
For those of us who had not invested in expensive analogue broadcast video equipment, the fact that the technology to process and store images increased capacity and became cheaper each year represented a unique opportunity. The appearance of DV was also a milestone. Suddenly, it was possible to shoot video at a higher quality at a fraction of the price. This allowed us greater freedom to experiment, to create and develop more complex projects. We shot our first documentary feature films with the DV format, including the award-winning “Choropampa, the price of gold” (2002), which was acquired by the Sundance Channel and was very successful at festivals.
The appearance of the first digital cinema cameras in 2007, bridged the gap with celluloid, and we had the technology for non-linear editing, which became much more affordable. Now, it was us who looked on those who resisted the change in the digital revolution with disdain.
DSLR cameras were also a milestone for budget-constrained productions like ours. Suddenly, you could count on top-quality photo optics to shoot in HD for a few thousand dollars. With these cameras and its optics, we produced “Hija de la Laguna”, a documentary about how a woman from the Andes who is spiritually connected to some lagoons that she considers the Yakumama (Mother Water) defends water.
Which Guarango technical milestones are you most proud of?
In 2009, we made the first DCP for the first commercial public screening of a Peruvian film in theatres. It was “De ollas y sueños”, a film that takes the pulse of Peru’s gastronomic revolution and was released in four commercial theatres in Lima in December of that year. We were given only one week for the exhibition because “Avatar” was expected to come out and take over most of the screens, especially the few DCP rooms available in Lima at the time.
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