New director: Tino de la Huerta

Brought up in a Mexican border town Tino de la Huerta has a bank of stories from the city to draw on to make films for online content, commercials and music videos. Recently signed to The Lift in Mexico City, YDA catches up with the new director.

Food, fashion, music videos … and then you blow us away with your amazing cinematic film for amnesty. They are all different styles, tone and feel. Can you tell us please about your background and what led you to directing?

I was born and raised in Nogales Arizona on the border between the United States and Mexico. I bring this up because there are a million stories that come from there. When I was 17 I travelled around the world. At first I thought my calling was acting, but as soon as I entered into the advertising world, I realized that that was the road I should take. I began working in publicity and later started directing.

Did you go to film school or are you self-taught?

I didn´t study at film school but I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Media. However everything I´ve learned has come from working.

Describe your childhood in one sentence please.

It is difficult to describe my childhood in one sentence, because being from a border city I had to confront many bumps along my way. Nogales is the entrance for narcotics into the USA and the exit for weapons and money from the States to Mexico. I witnessed it all from a very close distance, because lots of people I know, either ended up dead or in prison. On the other hand I grew up with only my sister and mother. She raised us both, and most importantly, she developed our characters and values. I have always said that I am what I am because of her.

You joined The Lift, Mexico last year – which piece of work initially caught their eye and are you shooting mainly commercials, music videos or content films?

To be honest I don’t know which piece was the one that caught their eye. But what I can say is that since the beginning there has been a lot of empathy between both sides and a lot of positivity. I am really happy to be part of The Lift roster, one of the best production houses in LATAM. Nowadays I film videos, content and commercials.

What are you currently working on?

I have just finished two commercials: one for a toy brand and another one for a drinks company. I am currently working on a music video for a Mexican band, and am also finishing the script for the next Amnesty International commercial, coming soon!

Is it a tough market for new directors in Mexico?

Yes it is tough, but only as tough as it is everywhere else. However, there is always work.

Do you collaborate with a cinematographer or do you operate the camera yourself? What’s your preferred camera.

At the beginning I did everything myself. As soon as the projects became bigger, I started to work with my DP Matias Penachino. In my opinion, he is one of the best in Mexico, who also happens to be a very close friend of mine.

In terms of my preferred camera, it is the ARRI ALEXA because of the range that it has, but I also like the EPIC. For practical use I love the Canon 5D Mark 3.

With a film like the Amnesty film did you use natural light more than lights?

I used led lights and streetlight. It was not easy, because it was a very intense video. I had to look after every detail such as the acting, the lighting, and the layout in order to tell the story. And also the fact that there were seven people inside a car, made it very uncomfortable!

What’s your method of developing a script – do you play with the visual narrative by sketching or do you write words and notes? 

The principal aspect is the music. I always create and tell a story based on it. Since a very young age I played musical instruments, but I either never had the opportunity to really dedicate myself to music or I simply never took it. Music is what inspires me and from there, I start writing. I guess I am a frustrated musician.

Do you storyboard in detail or do you work more intuitively letting the film evolve on set?

I almost never use storyboards, generally I have a very clear idea of the layout of the story, and I always take more shots if there is a spare moment. There are however pieces that are very specific and demand a storyboard.

What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learnt about directing?

Getting to know myself more and having the opportunity to explore my creativity are the things that I love and always enjoy!


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