We had the good fortune of connecting with Alvaro Manrique Iribas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alvaro, what do you attribute your success to?
The work we do requires full commitment and a lot of hard work, but everybody in the industry or pursuing this career already know that. As Director of Photography, it is necessary we play the role of an artist, a manager, and a technician all at once. With time these are skills we manage to acquire and improve. But to me what makes an artist truly successful is the love and care we put into our work, and since filmmaking is a collaborative process, that care needs to extend into the relationships of those we work with on set. I’m not talking only about the crew in the department we lead but to every person we interact with on a daily basis. Eventually we all find people we click with, and those become our closest collaborators. But sometimes we are brought into jobs where we encounter people we clash with for various reasons. It’s up to us to figure out a way to be respectful and manage to finish the job avoiding incidents, not giving into the stress that this beautiful job we perform carries.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What makes me different from other cinematographers is my personality and style. I am a very caring individual and very passionate about my work. With all the pressure involved in filmmaking, I think this allows me to stay in control and focused on the goal, doing some of my best work when I am under pressure. I also see myself as a pretty resourceful person when it comes to problem-solving, one of the most valuable skills to have in this business. The beginning of my career here was rough and slow. I started working on student sets since I didn’t know anybody in America. I made really good friends during this period. Some of these relationships expanded and led me to professional opportunities as a gaffer. From there, it is the same story as everybody else, mouth-to-mouth recommendations. After I finished my college degree and I had a working permit, new people started giving me a chance to work on bigger productions, acquiring more experience. Eventually I started trying to transition into working as a Director of Photography; it wasn’t easy, to be honest. To help me in this transition, I decided to go to grad school at Chapman University under the mentoring of some of the best Cinematography professors in the world. This ended up being one of the best decisions of my life. The easy access to equipment and the opportunity to shoot a lot of projects has allowed me to find a workflow that I feel comfortable with, therefore improving the quality of my work. Being able to explore so much here has allowed me to find my voice, bringing me closer to the artist inside of me.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Great question… I would fulfill my duty with the “famous places” showing the hike that takes you behind the Hollywood sign, the wealth of some of the Beverly Hills mansions, or the beautiful Concert Hall in Downtown LA on the first day. Then I would spend the rest of the week on what for me makes the essentials: Day 2 for the drive around Palos Verdes and RAT Beach’s peaceful environment. Day 3 to explore Long Beach enjoying the sunset and blue hour admiring the LB Pier lights. Day 4 driving through PCH crashing Santa Monica and Venice Beach and stopping to admire some of the more hidden spots in Malibu and farther north. Day 5 dedicated to Art: LACMA, The Getty, Griffith Observatory, The Huntington Library are my top recommendations (definitely more than 1 day needed to hit all 4 places and enjoy them as deserved). Day 6 down in the beautiful San Diego’s Downtown and popular beaches, without forgetting a mandatory meal in any of the sweet spots in the Little Italy near the Waterfront Park. Day 7 I would definitely insist on driving towards Palms Springs to spend the day at Joshua Tree climbing the rocks to find some of the most beautiful horizon lines I managed to find in California. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The list of people that has have something to do with my success is pretty long. I believe that my family’s moral support has been a blessing, and what has made possible to stay on track with my goals. In addition, I’ve been lucky to cross my path with incredible people like Kevin O’Brien, Laura Almo and David Waldman, who in the early stages of my career here offered me the chance to grow and prove myself. Last but not least, a shoutout to Johnny Jensen ASC and Bill Dill ASC for their mentorship and guidance, bringing me closer to the artist I aspire to be.
Images from “On A Tuesday” short film, directed by Matt Jones and staring Elise Berggreen and Jenna Herz.