Kerwin is a Salvadoran who dreams of working in the film industry in the United States.

The young Salvadoran studied film in Houston and in his professional practices he has participated in several important films, now he dreams of working in the film world and raising the name of the country.

When Kerwin Eduardo Escobar Rivera had just turned 14 years old, his parents gave him an action camera. That was the gift that the young man, a native of San Salvador, wanted the most, mainly because of his interest and love for the wonderful world of images. It was his first camera.

From that moment, Kerwin began to make his first videos and photographs. She recorded everything: the movement of the clouds, family walks on the beach, in the volcanoes, school projects and any scenario that she considered attractive and worth documenting.

A few months later, he began editing and posting videos of his own on digital platforms such as YouTube and, little by little, his interest in technology linked to photographic imaging and, above all, in high-end cameras grew. Through tutorials and educational videos, he learned, from his home, its use, characteristics and operation.

The Salvadoran studied Film Applied Sciences in Houston and has collaborated on different film projects. EDH Photo/ Courtesy

Kerwin considers himself an autodidact and, for this reason, he began to investigate, at that time, what interested him in the world of photography, until his interest in cinematography grew. In his last year of college, he still believed that his taste for image and video was for fun.

But, during his vacation at a Summer Art Fest, in the state of New Mexico, United States, he produced his first short film: from pre-production to the final product. There, the young man was convinced that his passion for the image could go beyond a mere hobby.

The Salvadoran continued studying photography courses and dedicated time to watch documentaries and everything that involved his passion for videography. Years later, Kerwin made the decision to study film.

However, in El Salvador the possibilities of studying film were very few and that is why he decided to look for scholarships and opportunities in the United States.

With the support of his parents and family, Kerwin was able to study and graduate after three years from Houston Community College with an associate’s degree in Applied Science in Film.

Now 22, Kerwin is interning in the American film industry as a first assistant cameraman, also known as a “focus puller,” his primary role is to control the focus of the lens, based on the distance the actors are from. meet in front of the camera.

“As a camera assistant it is very important to have all the technical aspects at their best and see that all the main settings, such as exposure, recording format or lens aperture are in order for the cinematographer to carry out. out the filming, according to his vision”, explains the young man.

You are also assigned other tasks such as changing lenses or batteries and moving the camera between angles within a scene.

“On the filming set I have previous experience working as a gaffer (illuminator), grip (responsible for the camera on set), digital image technician, camera operator and production assistant. Each of these positions is important to the production of any production, but what I have specialized in the most is being a good camera assistant, a very critical role, since the focus of the lens guides the audience’s eye to what you want to show within the frame”, says the professional.

It works with German-made ARRI Alexa Mini and Alexa Mini LF cameras, which are among the most widely used in Hollywood and the film industry in general, due to their advanced technology and high dynamic range, more than any other production camera. These types of cameras were used in the production of 12 films nominated for the 94th edition of the Oscars in 2022.

Among the most prominent projects Kerwin has been a part of is “Truffle Sauce,” a short film that raises awareness about the traumas of sex trafficking. It was exhibited in seven performances throughout the city of Houston.

“For that short we worked with Isaac Yowman, with multi-platinum records and a Grammy nominee in the music industry, he was the director of photography to achieve each scene that we had to shoot per day,” he says.

Isaac Yowman is a film director who makes documentary films and has worked with Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner.

Another outstanding project in which Kerwin has had the opportunity to contribute his knowledge is “Armstrong”, a drama film focused on the life of a boy and the problems he finds between love and gangs, upon being released from prison.

This feature film is directed by Trayvon Williams, who has won recognition for “Best Feature Film” at the “Critics Choice” International Film Festival and at the Art Film Awards.

It has also been a finalist for Best Feature Film at the New York Cinematography Awards and a semifinalist at the Robinson Film Awards. In addition, it is nominated for Best Feature Film at the New Creators Film Awards.

Likewise, the young Salvadoran participated in the filming of TIME, directed by Maurice Elrod, winner of Outstanding Narrative Short Film at the Cleveland Urban Film Festival.

Kerwin lives in the city of Houston, since he considers it a city where there is enough commercial work and many opportunities to make music videos.

“There are a couple of independent production companies that record feature films around the city. Bigger productions have come for Netflix, Paramount and Disney+ in the State of Texas, Austin is where there are productions with better budgets and more incentives,” he says.

I want to be a filmmaker and raise the name of El Salvador

As a Salvadoran, how difficult is it to study Cinema?

Since my passion for cinematography was born, I knew that my best option was to study abroad, since the degree as such is not offered in the country. With the support of my parents and other family, I decided to study in the United States because of the opportunities in the middle and because of the cultural diversity.

I had the privilege of studying Film in Houston and being one of the best in my classes, but much more important than what I achieved studying were the connections I made with people of the same interest, who ended up being part of my work team regularly after months. .

Houston is a city famous for its diversity and as a Salvadoran it was not difficult to work with others on this. A good education is important but where you learn the most in this industry is on set and meeting people who are passionate about the same thing.

It is about taking advantage of theoretical teaching to develop your natural talents. Try to perform your position in the best possible way so that the people on your team realize what you are capable of regardless of where you come from.

What do you think of the little film production in El Salvador, do you think that field should be opened up because it is a high-income item?

I have seen some very good commercial work come out of El Salvador for Latin America and a couple of short films. The technology to do it all has always been a bit hard to come by for the cost but it’s becoming more and more accessible. Something that I have always heard in the industry is that the best camera you can use is the one you already have, I have seen good stories recorded with cell phones or DSLR cameras.

I believe that in El Salvador more spaces should be opened to publicize Salvadoran talent and support it. Encourage organizations that can finance these projects.

What is your biggest dream in the workplace?

My biggest dream in the cinema is to work in large and important productions, filming in a studio with a led screen, like where the filming of “Mandalorian”, a Disney+ series, took place.

This screen allows the change of scenery at the moment without having to transport or travel with equipment to another place, it works similar to how it would create landscapes or structures for video games but with the help of sensors mounted on the camera, more realistic effects can be achieved as it is actually the depth of field of a lens and the movement of the camera translated also on the screen.

This has been a game changer for the industry and I would like the challenge of working with new and cutting edge technology.

Who do you admire the most?

To cinematographers like Marcell Rév, for his work on HBO’s Euphoria, the 2022 Emmy-winning series for Best Cinematography. Seeing this in its first season in 2019 at the beginning of my film classes inspired a couple of works we had of these . Their way of working with colored lights throughout the series is something very impressive and adding to it the camera movements and the characteristics of the lenses they used.

Mention your best movies and why?

Among my favorite movies is “Her”, directed by Spike Jonze and starring Joaquin Phoenix. I feel that this story captures you very emotionally, following the relationship between a character and an operating system. A very original and different romantic science fiction.

A very interesting cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema since on several occasions the main character was found talking with the operating system that is in his ear, it is not another person who would have to be recorded with other angles to show the conversation so he opts for close and intimate angles with the lead actor to show more of his emotions.

Another of my favorite movies is “Dunkirk”, directed by Christopher Nolan and like “Her” the cinematographer is Hoyte van Hoytema. This was recorded with very large and very heavy IMAX cameras compared to other common ones used in high-budget movies. These cameras were challenging to mount on planes and boats but more surprisingly they also used quite a bit of hand holding in the cinematographer’s hands. All this effort transferred to the screen with this format creates a more impressive and exciting image.

Kerwin is a Salvadoran who dreams of working in the film industry in the United States.