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Filming Fashion – An Interview with Mario’s Film First Assistant

Filming Fashion – An Interview with Mario’s Film First Assistant

Victor Bastidas, Film First Assistant at MARIOTESTINO+, is briefly in London, amid a typically active shooting schedule. Mira Mira sat down with him to talk his shooting style, working process, and the constant adventure of a fashion shoot.

How did you get into this job?

I met Mario through my friend Sasha Howard, who told me, “Mario likes to discover talent around the world you know, he might like you and bring you to work for him here in London!” I thought, “yeah, sure, sounds nice,” – but it actually happened! You know it was funny how I arrived to this job – before here I was in China, and I used to do all sorts of videos as a part time job. I graduated from University in Chinese and Business, but I liked films a lot, so I tried to get gigs and start filming things as an AD or cameraman – or whatever came to me, really!

On set, in Cusco or Capri or wherever, do you still arrive on set or on location and have something that makes you go wow?

Yeah, it does happen, the more we travel. We were in India this year, and that was one the the most beautiful trips that we’ve done. I was more surprised that Mario and everybody was loving India more than anything else, because I thought it was going to be so different to what the team is used to in Paris, LA, New York, Tokyo. And suddenly we’d gone to the depths of India, and it was so messy, chaotic and loud, with smells and colours, and things you see that you’d never see in those other places, so it can be hard for some people to adjust, but I was wrong. Everybody loved it. Indian people were so nice, that was another thing – to get to know locals is always an amazing experience.

On set at the British Vogue September issue shoot, Port Eliot, 2017

Do you have a favourite camera to shoot with?

I’d always choose an Arri Alexa. It’s the best camera in the world. I’d always use that, unless it’d be completely impractical to do so.

What’s changed about your role?

I’ve gone back to liking editing films. I always liked it, but there was just so much to do that I thought I would burn out – and I did burn out.  But now I edit, because it’s the only way to look at what you’ve filmed and get better at it, you get to see all of your mistakes. I also have been grading a lot of the films, which is another way of checking out all the mistakes, colour, balance, and what you did wrong, which lights shouldn’t have been there, etc.

What are some of the weirdest briefs you can remember?

Almost every brief is weird – in an extraordinary way. Because you’re there, and you go “wait a minute – we’re filming two models skiing down a mountain, and they’re the most ridiculously good-looking people ever, and they’re kissing!” Then the next day, you’re in Capri, where you’re just filming this guy’s ass, and he’s standing on the rock, and down in the water there’s a girl looking at him, desiring him, and you’re just thinking ‘wow’. Everyday is an adventure and it’s fun. I love it.

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©Alex Waltl, 2017

Film: ‘Run Wild’, British Vogue, 2017

Cover photo: Gigi Hadid, Mario Testino and Victor Bastidas, New York, 2017. © Barwerd van der Plas