He is the Cinematographer of Joshua Lozano‘s Rest Stop Dollar Baby film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Luis Moreno: My name is Luis Moreno Ramirez, I’m from the City of Juarez, Mexico and I have always had a fascination for storytelling! Apart from considering myself a director of photography, I also deem myself an editor, as well as a director, and on good days, a writer too!
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a cinematographer?
Luis Moreno: I can’t identify the point in my life when I decided I wanted to become a cinematographer, instead it just feels like something I’ve been doing for as long as I’ve been a filmmaker. Like with many aspiring artists, my earlier work consisted of me directing, shooting and editing whatever I was creating. So as I’ve continued to explore the different aspects that compose a film, I have also become increasingly comfortable with expressing my personal style through various cinematic tools.
SKSM: How do you communicate with a director to design a visual strategy for a film?
Luis Moreno: The director and I will discuss the screenplay very early into the pre-production process of the film. We’ll discuss how to properly translate aspects of the script onto the screen, as well how to give the photography a unique aesthetic that also remains faithful to the tone and direction of the movie.
SKSM: You worked with Joshua Lozano on this film, what do you think the relationship between a director and a dp should be?
Luis Moreno: I believe the relationship between the director and cinematographer should be one of trust! Film sets can often be hectic, so it is very important to have someone by your side whose artistic direction you trust.
SKSM: You worked in a Dollar Baby based on a Stephen King short story. It was your most challenging film?
Luis Moreno: I definitely think that it has been the most challenging movie Josh and I have ever set out to make. Most of the issues arose from our inexperience as independent filmmakers, but because of it we completed the movie having learned important lessons about the process that is filmmaking.
SKSM: When you’re going to shoot, what are your favorite lenses? formats?
Luis Moreno: Due to my limited sources I haven’t been able to experiment much with different lenses! However, because of Rest Stop I was able to shoot with a Nikkor 18-300mm lens which I really liked because of its versatility. In terms of aspect ratios, I’ll often work with whatever the director may suggest, and as for my own projects, I’ll choose according to what I believe is fitting for the overall film. For instance, because of my upcoming project I’ve grown an interest in variants of the 4:3 aspect ratio.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Luis Moreno: A moment that stands out to me from production was when crew and cast members decided to go to a diner after an exhausting, night shoot. We had rigorously prepared for the scene and were quite nervous approaching it, so celebrating after a successful night of filming was almost necessary! We all decided to stay up a couple more hours after eating and drove up to high terrain to watch the sunrise as we listened to music! Overall, it was a wonderful experience.
SKSM: Who are some of your influences (favorite dps/films)?
Luis Moreno: For Rest Stop, Josh and I thought the movie would benefit from Roger Deakins’ cinematography in “No Country for Old Men” and “Sicario” so we strived to portray a level of realism and grittiness within the aesthetic of the movie. Personally, my influences vary depending on what sort of film I may be making.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Luis Moreno: I haven’t had the chance to dive deep into his body of work, although I recognize the immense amount of influence his writing has had on film and literature. I have enjoyed most mainstream adaptations of his work though, such as classics like Brian de Palma’s “Carrie”, Frank Darabont’s “The Shawshank Redemption” or recent adaptations like Mike Flanagan’s “Doctor Sleep”
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Luis Moreno: I’m currently in the pre-production phase for my upcoming film “Thelem”, which I’m very excited for as it will be my return to the director’s chair! In preparation for the upcoming project I’ve made an effort to study films that have inspired aspects of the movie, such as Paweł Pawlikowski’s “Ida” and Denis Villeneuve’s “Arrival”.
SKSM: What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Luis Moreno: I’ve gotten many comments of people thinking I’m older than I actually am!
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Luis Moreno: Of course, I really appreciate the opportunity! I want to thank every single person that has supported Rest Stop, the cast and crew highly appreciate the words of encouragement we have received from you all.