We had the good fortune of connecting with Senda Bonnet and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Senda, how do you think about risk?
Most people’s lives, especially nowadays, are filled with fears. Fear of meeting new people, fear of trying something new, fear of succeeding, fear of the future. But that’s when we let fears lead our lives, paralyze us that we cannot achieve anything, that we cannot grow. I am anxious and scared of a lot of things like everyone. But I noticed in my own life that if I put my energy into overcoming it rather than thinking about it, I get rewarded. So taking risks is important, even essential. There is a beautiful poem of Jane Hirshfield that says “There is no knowledge won without sacrifice. To gain anything you must first lose everything.” I left Paris a few years ago, where I had a beautiful life, a big loving family, amazing caring friends, Paris, a city of culture, food, I was working on set… Then, I fell in love in another part of the World, so a year later I decided to leave everything behind, and start a new life in Los Angeles. I was lucky enough to have found a partner who was extremely supportive and who really wanted to build something with me. But starting from zero is really difficult, I had no contact when I arrived who would hire me on set, all the people working in the film industry that I knew of were in France. So, I just put my pride on the side and I knew that there was no turning back, I had to make it work. As of now, I can say that taking the risk of coming in L.A rewarded me, I have been working on projects that I had been dreaming of working on for years. I shot a horror film with Christina Ricci as the lead. I also shot a dark comedy with John Malkovich, these are actors I always truly admired, and who are extremely talented. I don’t do this job to meet movie stars but to do movies that move people in any kind of way, and also for being on set. When you are on set with such great talent, you push yourself, you work hard. My dream and goal is to use film as a true artistic medium and in these last films I did, I found people who gave me the tools to achieve that.
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 am a cinematographer, I am like the translator of the emotions in the film using visual techniques. Cinematography is at the crossroad of Art and Technology. Telling stories is my passion, searching, finding the good way to tell the story with the camera, the lenses, the light, the textures, the colors is what drives me. I like to be challenged by the stories, the directors. I like the use of lighting and scene composition to emphasize emotion and visual impact of characters in turmoil.
This job is definitely not the easiest but I think one of the most rewarding, first you are in the front row with the actors, with the action and then you get to help shape the story visually with the director. As it’s a passion, a lot of people want to do this job, if there is no true passion and almost no need to do that, it will be difficult. Starting from zero was really hard but also a blessing, it helped me push myself even more, and really go look for the opportunities, and do things on my own, and work more, and also shape my own visual style more precisely. I like taking risks, I think that I have seen that taking risks was the most rewarding thing. And also not being afraid of the No, and perseverance is also very important. I would sometimes go on an interview for a job where I would be in concurrence with other super talented cinematographers, it would happen that I did not get the job, but I am stopping there. This kind of moment also reinforces your will to do what you really want to do. We are the actors and creators of our reality. We might enjoy the ride even if it’s bumpy, there is always a way if we really want it. I tend to have the same philosophy on set and when we are making a film.
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 would do all the touristy things that Angelinos would probably not do at all! I love to go to Venice beach for a walk on the beach and on the boardwalk which is always full of crazy things to see. For some fun and tour of the town, I totally recommend a Hollywood tour, even though you know that the driver is probably saying a lot of things that are not so true, it’s a fun moment and a good way to look around Hollywood, West L.A and Beverly Hills. The walking film tour was also pretty cool, I am a film geek and I love to see where the films you watched on a big screen were shot, and it’s a good way to discover downtown L.A.
A sound bath is a very L.A experience as well, I would take them to the tipi of Pamela Robins, a meditation center where she does beautiful sound bath in the heart of Malibu. If it’s the summer, I would totally recommend the jazz concert at the Lacma on a Friday night, it’s always good music and it’s free. Of course if there is a good concert, I love to go to The Hollywood Bowl or the Greek Theater. For a cocktail the Perch is the place to go, amazing scenery, roof top and excellent cocktails. And for amazing Mexican food, I would go to Mercado, they also have the best spicy Margarita you would ever taste.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Recognizing my success, I don’t know if that qualifies, we have small successes in life, the everyday successes are the most important. What does success really mean? Achieving goals, it’s a step by step process that always evolves depending on where you are and I am still evolving. I think that my life took a new start when I arrived in L.A. My husband, Chris really helped and supported me, challenging me, and also helping me to gain confidence when you start from zero in a country you barely know, this is precious support. I honestly don’t think that I would be there without him. My daughter gave me a sense of urgency, her being in my world makes me want to push further, I want her to be proud of her mother. I have bigger goals, and I feel like the time is now. And my friends here in L.A deserve some recognition for bringing love and support whenever I need it: Noman Hosni, Rebecca Berrih, Layla Metsitane, Cecile Tortolano!
Purple Violin The Chariot Adam Sigal John Malkovich Thomas Mann Rosa Salazar Arezou Sophia Kiapos