Cinematographer Matthew Ballard ’17 lensed short film “Nada De Todo Esto,” which premiered at the 76th Festival de Cannes and was one of eleven short films in contention for the coveted Palme d’Or, Cannes’ highest honor.
Ballard’s second narrative collaboration with the directors collective Pantera, takes place in Buenos Aires and observes a strange relationship between a mother and daughter as their seemingly harmless drive through a wealthy neighborhood slowly turns into a suspicious engagement with a homeowner.
Ballard says it was challenging to shoot the film on 16mm with no handheld, and he emphasizes the significance of the position of the camera. “With little time and trying to keep things as simple yet engaged as possible, you really have to think about where the camera is going to go – what does this mean about the perspective and our relationship to the characters, the power in the room, and how we choose to relate to the audience.”
Ballard considered how to engage the audience differently as the film progressed, asking questions like: Are we letting the story unfold for the audience in a non-bias observational way, or are we choosing to show our role as an active storyteller? What is the pace and or danger involved? Who exactly is the protagonist and whose side is the camera taking? “All of these questions made for a really engaging shoot that was extremely rewarding,” he says.
Though he describes the look of the film as natural, he admits there were many difficult lighting situations involved. “The home we chose to shoot in was quite dark and had to be lit completely in order to shoot with the 200T I chose in order to keep a cleaner image.” He notes working with the team to achieve lighting for a day scene that had to be shot at night: “This is always one of the most rewarding things for a cinematographer – when the AD calls the last shot, and the gaffer turns off all the lights, and everyone realizes for the first time that it’s not actually day anymore.”
Ballard began working with the directors of the film a year after graduating from LMU, and he says their collaboration across various projects has been very rewarding. “I think this friendship is really key and it has made me realize why some cinematographers and directors stick together and have their most notable collaborations together. It’s really important to nurture and take care of. These collaborations also seem to happen when you’re meeting at a somewhat level/mutual place. Then you guys want to learn together and feel comfortable taking risks and expressing yourself honestly while sharing your enthusiasm and dreams together.”