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Discussions About A Career In Cinema: Ray Garcia, Key Grip

In the span of three years, key grip Ray Garcia worked on Inception, Moneyball and The Dark Knight Rises with Wally Pfister, ASC; The Descendants and The Ides of March with Phedon Papamichael, ASC, GSC; and In Time with Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC. In this interview on the set of Nebraska, which would bring Papamichael an Oscar nomination, Garcia talks honestly about his career and home life, and about the insights to be gleaned from his experience by up-and-coming filmmakers. He returns often to the importance of listening, being honest, and building trust.

0:00 – Ray’s first career choice – doctor – and his subsequent move into filmmaking

2:30 – Meeting Phedon Papamichael and getting into the union

3:20 – The upside of starting in a smaller market – doing a bit of everything

3:50—Moving up to key grip

5:23 – What does a key grip do? “The existential cowboy.”

7:15 – Relationships: Forget the bad and remember the good

10:10 – How on-set monitors have changed the job

10:45 – Collaborating with PP and gaffer Rafael Sanchez

11:05 – How have digital cameras changed grip work?

13:12 – Working with color on a black and white movie (Nebraska)

14:06 –Every project is unique; constant learning

14:35 – Hiring and running a crew – what makes a great team?

17:17 – Valuable career advice to filmmakers not in LA

21:48 – “Ears and eyes open, mouth shut.”

22:24 – Taking the next step in your career

23:41 – Balancing work and home life

27:45 – Dealing with the pressure of moviemaking; worrying about the next gig

29:35 – Why not move up to DP?

30:20 – Handling the financial ups and down of the filmmaking lifestyle

31:49 – Choosing the next job; loyalty; living frugally equals freedom

33:59 – Adapting to different DPs; the advantages of working up the ladder

36:55 – How to get recommended

37:41 – Starting fresh with Roger Deakins on In Time

39:38 – The importance of listening; staying a step ahead; building trust; honesty