After graduating in 2018 with a game plan in place, Camilo Diaz (B.A.’ 18) worked on numerous film projects and co-founded CineAstra, a film and video production company with fellow film alumnus Aidan Guthrie (B.A. ’17) .
Diaz’s creative talent soon earned him a plum project as cinematographer for “,” a short sci-fi thriller by aspiring 17-year-old filmmaker Zach Breder, a Make-A-Wish recipient, produced by Georgia Film Academy, Trilith Studios and Make-A-Wish Georgia. More than 200 members of Georgia’s film community banded together to bring Zach’s film to the big screen.
Below, Diaz discusses his contribution to “Level 34” and the overall filmmaking experience of working with Breder.
How did you become involved with “Level 34,” and can you give a brief overview of this journey?
I became involved when my good friend and the producer of the film, Dan Kelly, called and invited me to be part of the project. The journey itself was one of great lessons, especially when it was my first time with such a big film in scale and ambition, and being sci-fi.
How was it working with Zach Breder and playing an integral role as film’s cinematographer?
The best thing about working with Zach is that we were both teaching each other throughout the way. On my end, I showed him how to translate the words of a script into moving images, and along the way, he taught me to remember my younger self, that young creative mind that I may have lost. I got that back, thanks to Zach.
The amount of support and community for Zach’s Make-a-Wish project was a pretty impressive labor of love. How was this film collaboration different from previous projects?
This film ran like a professional movie set. That part was not different. It was about the individuals involved who came in to work with a lot of love. You don’t see that often, and having that support from every single person was instrumental to the final cut.
Is there anything you’d like to point out about the film’s cinematography that you hope the audience would feel or see while watching “Level 34?”
Of course! I included a couple of nods to “Star Wars” and “2001 Space Odyssey!” But most importantly, I hope that audiences are able to connect with the characters through the cinematography. For me, when you focus on character and let the spectacle come when it comes, your film becomes elevated. The audience always wants to connect with your character.
While working on the film, what’s one nugget of “lessons learned” that you’d like to share with young filmmakers?
When you have a fantastic crew that not only are your friends, always trust them, they will have your back. Young filmmakers tend to feel like they are the only ones trying to make a movie, but that collaboration is integral. Especially this film, which has all kinds of practical effects, visual effects and built sets. There are a lot of moving pieces.
With “Level 34” garnering a lot of media buzz and now on the film festival circuit, did you attend the 56th Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival?
Unfortunately, and as much as I wanted to, I was not able to attend since I was working on another film.
The first thing we wanted to do was make films that we enjoyed, and making a production company would allow us a certain pathway to that. I love independent cinema because it allows us to make films that perhaps audiences don’t know yet that they want to see.
What’s next on your filmmaking horizon?
I just got done directing a boxing short film, “The Old Lady and The Boxer.” We shot it on 16mm film with a great cast and crew. So now, taking a little break before picking what my next film is!