with cinematographer

pete warrilow

On shooting with the Island Company® crew in Tulum

How did you and Island Company’s Creative Director, Spencer Antle come to know each other?

I was at a production meeting at Moxie Pictures in Hollywood, this has to be back in ’95, when this ‘kid from the basement’ asked if I would shoot a spec spot with him. ‘Spec Spots’ are what new wannabe directors shoot to string together a reel so people can see if they have talent. Spencer at the time was making $300 a week as a grunt editor in a window-less basement cutting director reels for their sales department. His mouth dropped open when I said sure. I’ve never backed away from a job if I liked the people or the project. That was the beginning! Glad I did.

Director Spencer Antle & Cinematographer Pete Warrilow on the beaches of Tulum.

How was Tulum as a location, and what problems did it create for production?

Looked great on the location stills. Pretty cool place but not ideal for shooting. An eco-friendly, green location caused all sorts of problems. Electricity was turned off early evening and came on sometime in the AM. I think we were spread over 4 hotels at one point just to find electricity. 4am hair and make-up calls with no power and water certainly made it interesting. We just needed to charge batteries, and have a hair dryer – a shower too! Sounds simple but not in Tulum. You forget how much you need electricity until you’re looking for places to charge 20 batteries all at once! Clouds and rain for the first 4 days made scheduling a challenge but have to say I loved the light and dramatic skies. Beaches were covered with washed up dead seaweed – not exactly attractive! Eventually, sun, sea, sand and jungle – great combo.

Your use of the Canon 5D and 7D on this shoot; what was the implications of using this new platform? What did you learn?

The Canon 5D is a great camera, at times frustrating, but great. I bought mine with no intention of shooting spots with it. Originally a Nikon stills gear guy. Canon was the first company to come out with a full 35mm sensor so I changed over. I used the Canon 5D Mark II for tests, color temperature and action sequences on a HD TV series I was shooting in Egypt. Wasn’t long before I realized its capabilities. Its portability, low cost and high image quality on H264, is great for location shooting. In the end, it’s all about the chip and the glass, a bit like food & wine.

Being a cinematographer is tough work.

What was the best part of working with the Island Company® crew?

Working hard and having fun – I seem to remember! These guys are professional partiers! The best part – it felt like a team all striving to create something unique.

How was collaborating with Spencer after not working with him for a few years?

He hasn’t changed one bit! His passion for life and his attention to detail makes him a very special person. Pain in the ass sometimes but usually he’s right, not always! A definite maybe! If ever we argue, it’s out of passion to do something great. Never more than that. And we’ve usually been successful, even in this case with very little. And that fucking hat. I don’t think he’s changed out of his 5 outfits since ’95!

What was the most challenging part of your nine days in Tulum?

Lack of sleep. Lack of crew. Resisting Spencer’s urges to have margaritas in the morning…

Is it true that Spencer started drinking margaritas every morning at 8am?

No, that’s not true – it was 7:30.

view Pete Warrilow's cinemagraphic portfolio