10 Cinematographers to Watch: Xavi Gimenez

Role model: Roger Deakins
Film or digital: “It depends on the project and the texture you want.”
Favorite tool: “I’m not a very technical d.p. so I don’t use a lot of toys.”
Representation: Sheldon Prosnit Agency

With a gift for dramatic lighting and inventive composition, Spanish cinemato-grapher Xavi Gimenez has quickly become a much-in-demand collaborator for such varied directors as Brad Anderson (for whom he shot “The Machinist” and “Trans-Siberian”), Alejandro Amenabar (“Agora”) and Jaume Balaguero (three feature films including “Fragile”).

“I’ve shot a lot of thrillers and horror films, because you can experiment a lot, and I love working with a director like Brad or Jaume because they’re very free and intuitive,” he says. “You never know what might happen on the set, which can make it complicated, but also magical.”

The d.p.’s latest thriller is “Red Lights,” written and directed by Rodrigo Cortes and starring Robert De Niro and Sigourney Weaver, which played at Sundance. “It was a challenge as everyone wanted to make a big movie with a low budget,” he reports, “but I got to shoot it in my hometown, Barcelona.”

Born in the Catalonian capital in 1970, Gimenez originally went to film school to study sound, but within the first month, he experienced an epiphany: “I discovered the power of images and just fell in love with the idea of creating them and how they can transform you,” he recalls.

After starting as a camera operator and shooting shorts, he graduated to features in the late ’90s, shooting Balaguero’s 1999 thriller “The Nameless,” and has worked steadily ever since — “sometimes in Barcelona, where we did ‘The Machinist,’ but usually all over Europe, so it’s always an adventure with new things to see and inspire you.”

In 2010 he made his debut as a director with his feature “Cruzando el limite,” “a story for teenagers that was really crazy and complicated to shoot, and which I wanted to do more as a d.p. than a director,” he admits.

“So I don’t know if I’ll direct again soon, as I need to learn more about directing first.” In the meantime, Gimenez is focusing on cinematography and recently returned from Venezuela, where he’s been scouting and prepping “a big historical biopic” that will be shot there. “That’s all I can say,” he adds. “It’s a big secret.”

Trailer: “Red Lights”

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