Alice Song / Sun Staff Photographer

Cinematographer Ivan Rodrigues answers questions about his work and production process at the Q&A session held at the performing & media arts department.

March 4, 2018

Brazilian Cinematographer Shoots Film with PMA Students, Gives Advice During Q&A Session

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Brazilian cinematographer Ivan Rodrigues — who has collaborated with prominent industry figures including Anthony Hopkins, Tyler Shields and Skylar Grey — came to Cornell last week to share his experiences in a Q&A session and work on a project with performing and media arts students.

Rodrigues, originally from a small town in Brazil, obtained his Masters in Film Arts from UCLA. He has worked professionally for over ten years both in Hollywood and Brazil.

As an undergraduate student, Rodrigues actually studied directing, rather than cinematography. As he began to perform more camera work, he found that cinematography suited both his skills and interests.

“I had an eye for the technical side, [a] geeky side of me that loved codecs,” Rodrigues said. “[Cinematography] was the perfect blend of creative and technical skills. My friends started asking me to do some work, and when you start doing something well, people ask you keep doing that.”

When asked about the film process, Rodrigues said that “it’s all about being creative and figuring things out.”

“You often don’t understand the whole message from the dialogue alone, but the cinematography can help give the story some meaning,” he added.

Rodrigues has worked as a cinematographer, director of photography and in the camera and electrical department on numerous projects. His works include TV series, feature films like Singapore Sling, short films like City Bus, produced by James Franco, the Man on the Moon commercial for Tyler Shields’s new series Historical Fiction and a variety of TV shows.

The talk was part of the Directions Series held by the Department of Performing and Media Arts. The series brings industry leaders to Cornell, to share their media careers as screenwriters, playwrights, editors, producers, directors, theatre critics and more.

Prof. Dehanza Rogers, performing and media arts, studied with Rodrigues at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. She invited him to campus so that students can have some experience working with professional filmmaker.

“I’ve been on set with him on a number of occasions and I’ve always been impressed with his skill, creativity and personality,” Rogers said. “Filmmaking is an extremely collaborative endeavor and relies on trusting those you work with, and Ivan instills a deep level of trust.”

The film that Rodrigues and students worked on was based on the script “In the Cold,” written by Sarah Nixon ’18, which just won the Heermans-McCalmon writing competition. In Nixon’s words, the film is about a young woman who must make a decision regarding her child’s well-being.

“[Rodrigues] brought a lot of really great creative ideas to the table that me, with my very amateur eye at this point, can’t come up with,” she said, adding that he was particularly helpful in terms of helping her consolidate several shots into one. “He was really wonderful to work with, it was a great learning experience, and the ability to work side by side with a professional on something I’ve created was a very invaluable opportunity.”

The film based on Nixon’s script that Rodrigues and the students have been working on will be screened for the public on March 23rd at 4:30 pm at the Schwartz Center of Performing Arts.