*Originally published by Little Black Book (lbbonline.com) on March 1, 2023.
Diego Cacho, raised in Mexico City, is a cinematographer in the Nashville area. At the young age of 12, Diego had a clear vision for his future. Ever since he has worked his way through the ranks - from an unpaid intern, to PA, to 2nd AC to 1st AC to now a Cinematographer. Some of Diego’s work has been featured on Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, Amazon, Good Morning America, and more. Now with three feature films under his belt, Diego looks to the future to centre his craft in the commercial and narrative world.
Diego> I love film making. As far as a niche thing, I would say cars. I love cars, I love car movies, car anything. I think that’s come from being a kid, and playing with toys. Now I get to do that on a bigger scale and play with $100,000 toys. It makes me feel like a kid again and it makes me feel like I can handle that kind of responsibility as well. Not only that, the possibilities are endless when it comes to car to car kind of stuff. I also love working in teams, and it's the ultimate teamwork. Its such a collaboration between the stunt driver that is driving the picture car, the precision driver that’s driving the car that I’m that I’m handing my life to, the arm operator, who is swinging the camera that we are trusting won’t ram it into a tree or off a bridge. My AC who is keeping me on point. And obviously myself and just being the orchestrator of all those people.
Diego> I think I’ve always known about the cars from the behind the scenes videos on DVDs or whatever. The first time I stepped on one was in 2016. I was coming in as an AC, probably the most flexible of roles, so I was able to jump in there and got a chance to operate the wheels and mount the camera to the car, and learn how the communication works. It was a Gear Seven car whenever I first was exposed to it. Thankfully I got into it early enough where we were all figuring out how this new toy worked together. Based off of that, I have had good growth with the whole team.
Diego> It was absolutely an obsession straight-away. As soon as I stepped in the car and saw all the things that were in there, all the communication that takes place, and the capabilities of what you could do with that, it just blew my mind. I’ve always had an affinity for car commercials, car chases, or whatever it was. I knew straightaway that I wanted to put the time and effort into learning all about it.
Diego> The most interesting thing that I have found, mostly from my director friends, is that a lot of people are wanting to get into this. A lot of people want to shoot cars or shoot a crazy car commercial that ends up as a super bowl ad or something along those lines. A lot of the directors that I work with, even though they are perfectly capable of doing it, unfortunately don’t get those opportunities because they need experience. There are a lot of people fighting for those jobs and so they get asked “have you already done it?” It's one of those things where you need experience to get experience. It is a lot harder for those directors to be able to dip their toes in and have someone be able to trust them.
Diego> I think the obsession is there and everyone wants to do it. However, the amount of people that get the chance to do and are trusted to do it is small. Even then, when you do one, they say you need at least three. So you get one but then how to get the second one, then the third one?
Diego> I was doing a music video where the main concept of the video was cars. It was a guy and girl chasing each other in a car and they were performing. We knew we were going to do a performance at the end, not car related, they were just going to perform. The car came in handy because I thought “what if I just parked the car and used the arm as a jib to elevate the performance. If I didn’t do it, I would have been stuck with hand held or ground shots. Now by adding the car I can get high shots, low shots, tracking shots, stuff like that. So I think knowing how the tool works, helped me elevate that specific project and ultimately made the video better.
Diego> Learn to trust your team. If you do get a chance to be in a car and do a car commercial or whatever it is, trust the team that is in the car with you. Trust the arm operator and don’t feel like you have to micromanage them. Rely on their experience of knowing the safety measurements and that they are going to give you the shot that you're looking for. Trust the driver to do his job and coordinate his side of things. If you get lost in that, you're not going to get the shots you want and you’ll lose valuable time trying to communicate that with your team. So just trust the team.