Beatriz Sastre creates palpable atmospheres through an instinctive approach to cinematography
The London-based cinematographer who has worked for the likes of Nike, Adidas, WePresent and Valentino, talks us through two of her recent projects.
- 3 April 2020
- Jyni Ong
- Reading Time
- 4 minutes
Born and raised in sunny Valencia, Beatriz Sastre made the move to the less sunny London around ten years ago, where she still currently resides as a cinematographer. With an enviable roster of clients under her belt, Beatriz’s cinematic lens has been commissioned by the likes of Nike, Adidas, WePresent and Valentino just to name a few. And amongst a number of talents, the cinematographer has worked on commercials, music videos, not to mention documentaries in her fruitful career thus far. It’s fair to say, she’s pretty busy.
Beatriz always knew she would be involved in arts and culture. Growing up with a family in theatre, creativity was always a key focus and she remembers being surrounded by conversations of art and new screenplays on a daily basis. “When I was a child,” she tells It’s Nice That, “my parents would always make sure there was a new book or good film to watch at home. My mum started renting Spike Lee movies when I was only 12 years old and she thought it would be interesting for me to start to understand the outside world.”
A lover of cinema and photography since childhood, Beatriz became particularly obsessed with Argentinian movies directed by the renowned director, Adolfo Aristarain. “It wasn’t so much the visual aspect of them that I was drawn into,” recalls Beatriz, “but more the atmosphere that him and his director of photography managed to create.” She remembers the intimacy of the dining scenes in particular, the way the characters would sit around a table talking closely. And from that moment on, Beatriz knew she wanted to do something that would allow her to produce something similar.
Now, she does exactly that. With an eye for detail, the cinematographer creates palpable atmospheres through poignant visual languages, brimming with insight. It was a vision in part achieved thanks to her training. First, she studied media and audiovisual communication, going on to complete a master’s degree in cinematography in London. From there, she worked on several TV series and feature films, honing in her camera techniques while shooting as much as possible to gain further experience. In this way, she developed a style of working that works best for her, one of intuition.
“Whenever I read a new script or a treatment, I approach it with my first instinctive impulse,” says Beatriz on the matter. “I usually go with my guts.” First off, she pinpoints a visual atmosphere or mood that she imagines for the scene, then, pulls together visual references around this vision which are then presented to the director. “We take it from there,” she adds on the process. Over time, she’s discerned what works and what doesn’t while developing a personal preference for a signature colour palette, contrast, angle and so on. “For me, it’s important how the colours are balanced on the frame, I tend to go for slightly muted and mixed colours rather than primary ones,” she continues.
A distinct focus on the depiction of skin can be seen throughout all of Beatriz’s work, as she beautifully showcases the texture of skin with softness, while being true to reality. Camera wise, on the other hand, the cinematographer prefers to keep the frame moving in a constant, smooth movement, specifically when it comes to wide angle shots. It’s a flowing pace exemplified in the new short film Wata for example, directed by long time collaborator Ronan Mckenzie, as well as Joy Miessi, and sponsored by Gucci. Exploring the colour blue, the evocative short brings emotion to the surface through the beautiful visuals, touching on jazz music and its ability to make us ooze with its musicality.
In other work, she collaborated with Azeema Magazine – one of this year’s Ones to Watch – on a Nike commercial hoping to empower Muslim women. Directed by Nadia Amrani who also shot the film, the film was a pleasure to work for its socially impactful connotations, shedding light, and in turn, supporting a marginalised community. “The shoot was challenging from the beginning because Nadira and I wanted to do so many things with it, but the budget was tight,” adds Beatriz. Though they made a lot of compromises, they still managed to showcase the freshness and the energy of the sportswomen – seen through the variety of locations (including underwater), to the variety of shots.
As for the future, Beatriz was planning to shoot a new period drama with the director Laura Mañá in Spain. Revolving around Federica Montseny, an influencer anarchist from the 30s who became the first female minister in Western Europe, without a doubt, we know Beatriz will bring her cinematic panache to this exciting new project very soon.
Beatriz Sastre: Nike
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.