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Quick Chat: Director/DP Ruben Latre creates Candleosophy spot at home

Unable to travel the globe to shoot his spots and documentary projects, New York’s Hostage Films director/DP Ruben Latre is still working. With social distancing rules in effect, Ruben is still filming, designing and editing… but from his home. His latest spot for mediation candle company Candleosophy showcases some of his in-house capabilities to create new content without cast or crew.

The spot, created for digital and social networks, features macro shots of organic imagery, layered with subtle text, stylized design treatment and a peaceful music track.

Latre on set before social distancing.

We reached out to Latre to find out more about the spot and his workflow:

Was this an existing project you setup and then came up with an alternative on how to do it?
Yes, we had planned to shoot a spot for Candleosophy, showing a candle meditation with a cast and in a nature setting. Once it became clear that involving anyone would be risking the health of cast and crew, production made the decision to shut down the live-action shoot. At that point, we regrouped on how to convey the meditative moment without a full studio shoot, without cast and location — and to have only the tabletop portion — without leaving the house. It was always supposed to be more focused on serenity, and less product-oriented, so I tried to have that play out in this smaller way.

How did you describe to the client what it was going to look like?
I’ve worked with the client before on a really unique wonderful project, The Pioneer, so I think part of it was a level of trust. It was a bit of luck to have a client who believed in me.

What did you shoot on, light with, edit and color on?
I shot on a Red camera that I have at home, and even though I have lighting, the spot felt like it was calling for something more raw. So it’s being lit by natural light, shaped to suit each frame. I edited on Adobe Premiere and color corrected in Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve. Sound design was via Adobe Audition.

Latre’s at-home set up

Did the client provide some of the footage?
They did not provide footage, only candles. All the rest was done in my house.

What were some lessons you learned from the project?
Since the sets were very little, about two feet, I tried to make it feel wider and worked a lot with magnification.

For the whole project, I used diopters and extension tubes to create a shallow depth of field, which was a little bit of testing and playing around to get the look I was after.

What were some of the best and worst parts of working this way?
While I was shooting the spot, I was easily able to change directions. I think when you are able to work alone and see something you as the director are happy with it, it feels easier to stand by the result. However, it’s a lot more work in all of the aspects of making a frame, and there are technical limitations in terms of what you are able to execute.


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