The man behind the cameraBy Laura Tomassini, Eric Engel Switch to German for original article
As if it were the most normal thing in the world, Helder Loureiro Alves Da Silva tells of tango dancing with Emma Watson in Argentina, drunken nights with Scarlett Johansson at Melusina and football kicks through the studio with Sophie Marceau. The cinematographer and lighting technician worked on over 50 film productions and has a story or two to tell.
"Filmmaking is really something cool!" With a mischievous grin, bright beret and casual flip-flops, Helder Loureiro Alves Da Silva sits on the terrace of Bouneweger Stuff and revels in professional memories. The 47-year-old has been working for over 20 years in the film business, because image and sound have always been his passion. The Luxembourger with Portuguese roots shot his first photos with his father's old Pentax camera, and when Helder held a video cam in his hands for the very first time later, he was immediately convinced.
"I just filmed everything and since I was told I also had some talent, I decided to participate in the video course at Lycée Michel Lucius", says the cameraman. After high school, he moved to Brussels to study psychology – a subject that at first glance has little to do with Hollywood, but in retrospect helped him through many a situation. "In film, you meet many special characters, and you have to know how to behave on set. Especially towards the actors, discretion is important", Helder says.
From trainee to lighting technician
In evening classes parallel to university, the student learned the craft of filmmaking with a focus on camera work and lighting. But before the young film enthusiast could gain a foothold in the milieu of cinema, he first had to get a "real" job: as a substitute teacher in Luxembourg's schools. At 25, Helder finally made it onto a film set for the first time: "They were still looking for a trainee for the Luxembourg-Dutch co-production Moonlight, so I applied and was taken on for the job." The behind-the-scenes gig wasn't enough for the big time yet, but Helder consistently submitted his candidacy to new projects and made the jump from intern to first lighting technician.
"I started at the bottom in the classic way and worked my way up", says the cinematographer. His tasks included jobs as a "best boy", i.e. first lighting technician and assistant to the head lighting technician, known as a "gaffer", as well as the latter himself and as a cameraman. "Getting jobs as such has always been more difficult, though, because many directors bring their own teams and among them are many cameramen. So, if you want to work on several films a year, the best option is to sign up as a lighting technician", Helder explains.
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