May 11, 2012
Update on Alum Justin Gamboa
Justin Gamboa, who is an Air Force vet and recent grad, took a moment from his busy schedule to come down and chat with us about everything great that’s happening for him post-grad. He’s been working non-stop and learning from some of the best DPs in the industry. His most recent job was working on a series from Jon Avnet (Black Swan), Rodrigo Garcia (In Treatment, Nine Lives) and Marta Kauffman (Friends), titled WIGS. WIGS is an innovative digital channel producing high-end, original, scripted dramatic series and short films about the lives of women. The series will have a female lead character in each episode including actresses like Jennifer Garner, Caitlin Gerard, Virginia Madsen and more.
Justin worked as 1st and 2nd AC, depending on the episode, but nonetheless learned so much from great cinematographers (like Tony Richmond) who have been industry vets for 20+years. The way they constructed shots and brought life into scenes was inspiring and opened his eyes to new ways of working. Justin has been busy shooting the series since last November and explains that the great writing and acting excites him most about the project. To him, if there’s great writing and acting, then the cinematographer’s job is much easier and enjoyable. Without it, he says, he’d rather not have his name on it. Justin mentions that one of his career goals is to be able to choose projects based not just for the money, but rather for the idea behind it. With so much experience and ambition, we’re sure that won’t be a problem for him.
He also was 2nd AC for an Adidas commercial featuring Katy Perry that was shot on 35mm, as well as a new show on Vevo.com. He also worked on a pilot for BET but couldn’t really disclose what it’s about except for the fact that it features the second generation of the Wayans’ brothers’ family.
Justin’s goals for himself are to build a good reputation, work on big projects (in addition to well-crafted artistic ones), meet and work with awesome DPs and make movies that affect people and invoke thoughts. Great storytelling and composition is important to him, too. Matthew Libatique (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan) is his favorite director of photography and he is really drawn to his artful style of storytelling. Some of his favorite films are Requiem for a Dream, Ghostbusters, Midnight in Paris, Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind, Tree of Life and Black Swan… he couldn’t pick one all-time favorite!
His advice for current and future film students:
"Work all the time. Work on weekends and do as many internships and free jobs while you are in school, because now you have the time. Once you’re out of school you can start taking the paying jobs since they are mostly 12-hour-a-day jobs, and you’ll have all the experience you need to back you up. Don’t worry about your free time, just focus on gaining the knowledge and experience you need to make it as a professional. Everyone who graduates from film school wants to be either a writer, director, cinematographer, or whatever, but they should also realize there are stepping stones that need to happen in order for you to get where you want to be. If you want to be a set designer, work as a prop master and build a good reputation so you can work your way up there. Learn and watch what the pros do, because then you learn how the best do what they do and then you can put your own spin and interpretation on it."
As a camera assistant, he worked directly with the pros and that experience is priceless.
His thesis film, Fixation, won 1st place in the San Francisco Frozen Film Festival. Watch the trailer here and make sure you “like” the Facebook page.