We had the good fortune of connecting with Indeana Underhill and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Indeana, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I believe that risk = growth and opportunity. Allowing ourselves to take a risk in any area of our life gives us a chance to push past old boundaries and connect with something unexpected within ourselves, our art, or other people. Whether it’s skydiving, trying on a new approach on a film set, or walking up to a stranger at a networking event (which can feel like the scariest one of all), it all equates to growth. You can’t really fail when you take a risk, you can only learn a way to do something better next time, and perhaps even create something new and entirely your own. In the film industry, opportunities for risk-taking are everywhere. We are always working in the mindset of minutes: How many minutes do I have for this lighting setup? For this company move? Until lunch? Into grace? Trying on a new lighting approach is inherently risky because you have significantly less certainty of the outcome. The entire set waiting for you, and the remaining minutes are ticking away, but taking an old and comfortable approach can deprive yourself and your collaborators of an image that is truly special and unique. The key to successful risk-taking is preparation to minimize the number of unknown elements, and building a plan for changing direction towards a different solution if the new approach doesn’t work out. Being well prepared and having a solid back-up plan in place gives you the freedom to take risks, and grants you the chance for true discovery.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I see my work as a cinematographer still in its infancy. There are always so many aspects to dive deeper.I like to think of my approach in three facets: creative, technical, and practical. The creative facet is my vision and how it aligns and supports my director and creative team. The technical facet includes the tools and techniques I use to achieve my creative goals. The practical encompasses the logistics behind executing the creative and technical plan. I love people and I love working with other creatives. I once heard, “film is the only art form that includes all other art forms.” I rely on that idea often, I rely on the people I work with that allow me to do my job better than I ever could of without their collaboration. If you have ever heard, “Be a leader and not a follower”, it is a mindset that if taken literally, sets us back. We need to learn from each other to become better at our jobs in film. Have the final say but don’t say the word until you know what options other people can bring to you. You will never know everything another person could say, so listen. So far, I have gotten to my place in the industry today by connecting with others. Before I had even worked on a film set, I was asking questions, and building a supportive network that I rely on today. I adore my filmmaking community and what they have taught me. Every opportunity came from building those connections and friendships. I always saw my network as a family, no matter how knew the people were to me. Caring about people outside of their work and having an interest in what they are up to is far more important than what they may be able to offer you when starting out. However, like building any relationship, these connections take time. Working with a variety of collaborators now in multiple genres, I see myself as an “adaptor”, adapting my style to each project. Often, we hear, “the best cinematography is where it goes unnoticed.” That doesn’t mean it isn’t visually striking, it means that it has to fit the story we are telling and when it does, the visuals should feel seamless.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a HUGE fan of diners and I am very opinionated when it comes to them. My favourite one is Nick’s Coffee Shop & Deli. It has a huge menu with ¼ orders, to make any conceivable breakfast order possible, and it’s very reasonably priced. It’s not exactly a health food destination, but they do have vegan meat alternatives! For a classic breakfast, either Loupiotte Kitchen in Los Feliz (everything is made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients) or a breakfast sandwich and a latte at The Henry in West Hollywood. Dinner in Venice at Gjusta or Bodega Wine Bar for appetizers and a bottle of wine. Any friend that comes to LA has to try surfing, right? Especially if they are my friends from Toronto or Berlin. I got into surfing during the pandemic and my favourite spots are County Line in Malibu for the early AM and a sunset surf in Venice, with the excuse to get plates of food after at Great White. I will try and get out to a drive-in at least once while they are in town. My favourite spots are Rubidoux and Vineland. $10 tickets for two current features. Each with their own snack bars, tune your radio into the station and enjoy! I have a special love for Vineland before the first movie, around sunset, because the Amtrak rail runs right behind the screen every hour, making for an ultra-romantic Springsteen American feel.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Always in dedication to the support of my filmmaking family and cinematography community.