Guillermo Garza is no stranger to success. In both his native country of Mexico as well as internationally, he has been recognized as an extraordinary cinematographer.
In 2013, Garza shot the television program Alguien Mas, which premiered on Canal Once TV and has now made its way to Netflix Latin America. Viewers now can see the character of Arturo Meyer, a young architect who is dumped by his girlfriend Irene Cardenas, while both were studying in London. This destroyed his life and turned it upside-down. Upon returning to Mexico, Arturo not only decides to avoid any formal relationship but gradually discovers that he no longer fits in anywhere. His friends have formed their own families. His work begins to seem boring, routine and uninspiring, with no opportunity to express his true desires. Above all, getting over Irene is not so easy, especially when she returns to his life remorseful and determined not to lose him again.
“This was a very interesting project to work on because it meant taking over the cinematography of three episodes in an independent television series, which is a very new format for TV in Mexico,” said Garza. “I had to give it a cinematic aesthetic with very limited resources.”
The series was produced by Canana production company owned by Mexican actors Diego Luna and Gael Garcia who were executive producers on the show and whose recognition allowed for the series to have an independent and original feel even though it was released for mainstream TV.
“I liked the challenge of working within the constraints of a pre-established cinematographic style. You’re working on a story that has already had other cinematographers and respecting the original vision of the series, but actually giving it my own voice and finding new and creative ways to give life to the scenes,” explained Garza. “Collaboration and a good working relationship with the director are a vital part of the positive result of a production. Being able to maintain a high quality cinematography in a project with limited time and resources is something that requires a great deal of experience.”
He definitely has the experience. Garza previously was the cinematographer on the film Flores Para El Soldado, which won the Mexican Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature a few years before. It premiered at the 2010 Monterrey International Film Festival winning best regional feature film.
Flores Para el Soldado tells the story of a young man´s search for information regarding the tomb of Edmond William Quear Jr., a World War II American Veteran who died mysteriously on June 3, 1946 in Monterrey, Mexico. A family tradition was started by the young man´s mother twenty years before, consisting of laying flowers at the unknown soldier´s lonely grave every week as she visited her own mother’s tomb, which was beside the American’s in the Mexican cemetery. After a Google search of the soldier’s name, the young man finds some of the relatives of the soldier and begins a journey across different countries retracing the steps of the soldier to uncover why this American man´s tomb lay abandoned in a Mexican cemetery next to his own grandmother. He finds a heart- warming story of honor, tradition, cultural approaches towards death, love and loss.
“Working on Flores was a very interesting experience because this was a documentary film and we were figuring out where the story was going as we were shooting it,” said Garza. “We would follow storylines that would take us to very interesting and personal places.”
Garza worked with Daniel Galo, who was a co-director and producer on the project, and Ivan Garcia H., the other co-director, who believes the film would not have achieved the success it did without Garza.
“It was a pleasure to witness Guillermo´s creative process. The way in which he sees and understands light and knows the perfect frame in which to shoot each sequence, his skillful use of natural light to capture the very essence of the characters involved in the interviews, he has a superb problem solving skills that proved very useful in moments of haste and always maintaining the planned visual aesthetics,” said Garcia H. I can tell you first hand that his style, creativity, experience and all he has to offer take any project he is involved in to a great level. Besides being a great professional, Guillermo is an excellent person, mentor and friend.”
The film was Garza’s first feature out of film school, and was a new experience for him at the time, especially never having worked on a documentary.
“I learned to be quick to be able to capture fleeting moments with the camera because sometimes you never get the chance to shoot something twice,” he said. “But mostly, I learned that the most important thing is the story, and that you have to be aware of the subtleties of character that are revealed in the environments where people live.”