David Reviews

 "You're not an artist, Peggy. You solve problems." Don Draper.

SPOTLIGHT ON... LORENA PAGÈS
23 May 2023

Lorena Pagès is part of a new wave of talented cinematographers who may wear their ambition lightly, but should not be underestimated. When DAVID met with her a few weeks ago, she described the way she goes about her job, and her hopes for the future with a guileless charm that has you rooting for her success.

Born and raised in Barcelona, she has now lived in the UK for nine years and says she was received with open arms right from the get go. It's obvious after only a few minutes in her company that her own friendliness and warmth has played into this happy situation, and throughout the conversation, her positivity shines like a beacon.

When it's jokingly put to her that the welcome outside cosmopolitan London might not be quite so effusive, Pagès immediately jumps to the defence of her adopted homeland, pointing out that she had a wonderful time making a short film in Scotland.

Ultimately nominated for a Scottish BAFTA, the film in question - 'Groom' - was directed by Leyla Josephine Coll-O'Reilly, and gives its audience a glimpse at the inner life of Hanna, a school leaver working in "a hyper-sexualised beauty salon".


Asked whether this project emerged out of an existing relationship with Coll-O'Reilly, Pagès reveals that it did not, and that "it was their first time working together". They hit it off immediately, and Pagès loved the challenge of reflecting the sensibility of the script: "it was more about feelings than words, and I just needed to translate that into images".

The approach she adopted was to use a lot of close-ups to convey the way the film is looking at the salon through its young protagonist's impressionable eyes. This also contributed to way the film is lit, with a hyper-stylised approach further emphasising the main character's foray into an adult space, "I really enjoyed playing with colour, [making it] something that is more of a memory from this 16 year old girl. Everything was enhanced."

Several times, Pagès describes Coll-O'Reilly as a poet, and this leads to a discussion about the varying backgrounds of directors and how this impacts their expectations of a cinematographer.

For Lorena Pagès, the test of whether to take on a project is highly dependent on the chemistry with the director. She reports that she's had meetings where she's known straight-away that she's not going to be able to collaborate with a director. What she needs, above all, is to know that there's going to be a genuine spirit of co-operation, and that she'll be free to make suggestions.

In 2019, Lorena Pagès lent her skills to Stitch Editing's splendid Homespun Yarns competition by shooting a film with Amelia Dimoldenberg called 'Simon is a Prick'. Charting the comic reactions of people looking at a painting denied the opportunity for the playfulness evident in some of her other short films, but it sets a fascinating challenge for the cinematographer, as she seeks to frame the subjects in a fashion which sustains visual interest, and offers a sense of portraiture.


'The Cost of Living' is another of the shorts Pagès has shot with an up-and-coming director, in this case Alice Trueman. Even from the short trailer below, you can see how much va va voom, the young cinematographer brought to the project. Pagès involvement with each of these films demonstrates a love of experimentation and innovation, and puts her at the forefront of a new wave of female filmmakers.


She is quick to point out that the sensibility she looks for in a director is not the exclusive domain of female directors, and she balks at any suggestion that she's found it difficult to encounter that same level of collaboration with male directors, even though her realm is still hugely dominated by men:

"I've collaborated a lot with women, but also with lots of men. And I think the most, the important thing is the sensibility... as women, we have been told that we are more sensitive, that we feel more emotion, but I've been very lucky to work with very emotional male directors and I've never seen the barrier of sex at all."

She is evangelical about the importance of the ideas she discovers in the script: "For me, the most important thing when I receive a project is the script. And to be able to see it on my first read... to imagine it... and then talking with the director and making sure we're on the same page.

"It's all about the language. How I first started this was in loving cinema... it wasn't so much about, 'oh cool, I'm gonna get to work with cool lights, or I'm gonna get to work with cool cameras', which obviously is also amazing..." she laughs, "But, for me it was more about the poetry of the images and the language and how obviously you can do this scene in thousand different ways, but what's the right way?"

Lorena Pagès's determination to find the right way has served her brilliantly so far, and, as she talks about her hopes for the future, it's clear that she has the talent, the enthusiasm and the hustle to achieve all her ambitions.

She's one of those filmmakers who seems destined for brighter lights and greater opportunities, and DAVID will be cheering her all the way.

To see more of Lorena Pagès work, visit her at the Vision website or contact Michele Gordon at Vision on 020 7439 4657 or via email using michele@visionartists.co.uk.

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