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Meet Ingrid Sanchez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ingrid Sanchez.

Ingrid, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in the suburbs of LA loving to draw, dance and sing. I would draw cartoons and then add silly voices to my characters, and perform for my adoring family. However, when I got to middle school and started thinking about what I would do when I grew up, I decided making art wouldn’t be a stable job. My family had a lot of financial hardship, so I felt it was important to work hard to become an engineer or scientist. I stopped focusing on drawing and worked really hard in school, but my mom still took me to many free art museum days, dance and singing performances, multicultural events, and she even found a way to get us free opera tickets at the Dorothy Chandler.

It wasn’t until the last quarter of junior year in high school that I took an after school college class in watercolor, and quickly, many things changed. It is all a bit blurry, but I just remember having a feeling of pure happiness with a brush in hand and mixing colors that I immediately enrolled in more art classes and shifted my focus. When it came to applying to college, I applied to all math and science programs, except for one art school, RISD. And I got in! I was beyond happy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford it because I didn’t receive a scholarship, but my mom and sister worked with me to think about my options. We decided that I would go to community college for two years to get all my requirements completed and apply again to RISD with hopes of getting lots of scholarships. I am forever grateful to them because if it was only up to me, I probably would have taken out thousands of loans for RISD, but by saving and going to community college, I was able to find a great local community of artists and then get lots of scholarship to attend RISD. All of this to say, I grew up with passion, determination, and lots of help from my family.

Fast forward to graduating RISD, I had experimented in painting, photography, animation, and motion graphics, and again at very last minute, thought maybe cinematography might be a field that combines my talents and interests. I knew I really liked using light creatively and that I liked to work with people, instead of alone in a dark room, but I was never a huge movie buff. Right after graduation, I was lucky to have randomly found a group of Dutch filmmakers who were making an indie feature in LA, and I quickly hopped on board as a camera and lighting assistant. From there, I moved to Amsterdam, because I fell in love with the editor 🙂 , and started a career in lighting. I started as a lighting intern and moved my way up to being a best girl and sometimes even a gaffer. After a couple of years, I wanted to focus more on becoming a DOP, so I made a film to apply to graduate school, and I got into UCLA, AFI and USC!

Now I am in my last year at UCLA in the Cinematography M.F.A program, and so far I have had no last minute complete career change ideas :D. The film I made for film school got optioned by New Line Cinema, and I have been able to DP many short films, music videos and even some commercials! I love what I do, and I am excited to continue to learn and get better. My next projects are a dark comedy feature film, a short drama focused on climate change and government censorship, and a short drama about a female boxer who deals with her past as she prepares for a big fight. My goal is to bring on talented, diverse, hard working women and men into my team, so please reach out and let’s meet up!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Lots of struggles, but I am lucky to have an extremely supportive family. From imposing my own self-doubt, thinking I could never make money from a career in art to men telling me I need to smile, to constantly figuring out things financially, I have built a strong skin and I am continuing to improve my confidence and communication skills. When I first started interning in the lighting department, the best boy wouldn’t let me leave the truck, and the only thing I could do was hand him equipment. He belittled my every move and made me feel worthless. There were many things that happened on set that really made me feel not welcome, however, then I found a great gaffer to work with, and he taught me everything I know, and to this day supports me. I think finding people who care for you is really important, and trying to stay away from bad vibes. There are so many wonderful people out there, so it is important to navigate to those positive environments.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a cinematography/director of photography. I work with the director primarily to create a visual language for a story and then talk with many different departments, such as the production designer and costume designer, to combine all our creative visions into a cohesive style that the director envisions. I work mainly on narrative shorts, but I am actively working on my portfolio to work on narrative features. I aim to tell stories with a message that are visually and structurally unique and creative. I have found the best job in the world and I am so grateful to the directors and fellow cinematographers that I am lucky enough to work with because they are truly inspiring!

Aside from cinematography, I continue to make film posters, photographs and designs.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would have spent less time on things that didn’t bring me joy. I would remind myself that creating friendships and working relationships with people you admire or respect is important to help you flourish and learn. Lastly, I would remind myself to not judge myself against other people; we all have our own way of growing and there is definitely no set way of getting to where you want to be. What I would have NOT done differently, haha, is listen to your momma. She is quite smart most of the time.

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