Ask many cinematographers |to name their favorite tools and you’ll get answers such as 35mm film, the Arri Alexa camera |or a preferred Panavision lens. Ask that question of Azul Serra, and the answer is “a good screenplay.”
Clearly, this Brazil-based DP places storytelling above technology. He says his profession allows him to “dive into the emotions of the characters, live out their love lives and fears. It’s like being on a boat sailing on an adventure to the unknown, surrounded by people I admire and want to be close to.”
Like many DPs, Serra learned many tricks of his trade at film school, but he firmly believes that “the art of cinematography only truly develops with practice and exchange. The experience reveals new layers of what it is to actually make cinema. It’s suddenly no longer about what camera, what lens or lighting. It’s more about people, relationships, listening and intuition.”
Serra is well known in Brazil, where his work spans commercials, TV series and features — and where he’s won multiple awards. He has become known in the U.S. through Netflix’s “Kissing Game” — a series strangely evocative of today’s pandemic that’s set in a Brazilian cattle-ranching town where adolescents panic when they’re threatened by the outbreak of a contagious infection transmitted by kissing. Serra calls the series “a relevant and courageous project.”
Cinematographers whose work Serra admires the most include Roger Deakins, Greig Fraser, Bradford Young, Reed Morano and Gordon Willis. As his career develops, the DP plans to stick to his idealism, hoping to work on films “that make me thrive and transform as a human being, that help me better understand the world around me.”
To help support Brazil’s suffering film business during the pandemic, Serra launched a movement along with other DPs and directors to create a visual gallery.
The group is inviting artists to donate three photographs each. All sales proceeds go toward industry relief.
— Peter Caranicas