My name is Jose Prada and I am an independent filmmaker and musician who loves to tell stories. I started in the industry fifteen years ago, working in different areas of filmmaking. I run my own company ByJosePrada working as a director, DoP and colorist. Nowadays I am based in London and travel frequently to Spain where I teach cinematography and color grading.
Over the last few years I have written, shot and directed for clients such as Ford, Red Bull, Loreal, etc. I have also submitted my work to international contests, winning European contests for commercials for Danone, Renault, Ford, Riomare, Brosway… In 2014, I won the ‘Short Film Documentary Award’ in the Alcances International Festival and in 2018 the Spanish Nespresso talents contest with a short film about gender violence.
Name and age: Jose Prada, 39 years old.
Currently based in: London.
Language(s) spoken: Spanish, English.
How did you get started in our industry? I was the kind of child who was always passionated about the different areas of art. I loved films (which I could watch a hundred times), I loved writing, playing music, drawing…
I worked as a language teacher and a musician until 2003 and then decided to change my life and to make a career from my passion: telling stories through images. Since film schools in Spain at that time were either very expensive or not so practical I started to learn by myself through my love for films, books and writing projects that enabled me to put my knowledge into practice with a MiniDV video camera. Being able to understand English opened a lot of doors for me in that sense since we don’t have a lot of resources written in Spanish if you compare it.
I then worked for different production companies along the way, learning a lot and finally opening my own studio in 2008 which made possible to start a webseries, that I wrote, directed and produced with a friend and that became our own film school for three years since we were in charge of all the stages of the production. It was painful and overwhelming but we learnt a lot. Then after the crisis I became an independent filmmaker.
Since the Canon 5D Mark II revolution, the world of filmmaking has changed a lot and has shaped the landscape in interesting ways. The way we watch things as an audience and the way we learn is totally different than it was years ago. I consider myself born in this relatively new era and I am grateful to all of the professionals who share their knowledge and who have shaped the filmmaker I am today.
Current assignments: I have always projects running, professional or personal. Currently I am in the middle of several projects. I am editing a food commercial and about to shoot a fashion/health commercial, both in London. I am also with the preproduction of a video for a clinic in Bilbao (Spain) to be shot in March. Recently, and due to the interest of filmmakers who have approached my work, I am also teaching online, offering my tutorials and custom LUTs. The positive feedback encourage me to continue sharing. Whenever I can, I show my approach in projects from the real world and for real clients.
What types of productions do you mostly shoot? In the last years I have been able to balance two of the fields I love most: commercials and documentaries. In commercials, you have to put attention to every detail in the frame and stick to the client’s brief, which is a challenge. In the documentary world you have freedom to explore other areas, other narratives and other human topics which I am interested in. Magic comes when a commercial client approves an idea where I can give a human point of view.
What is your dream assignment / job in our industry, and what are you really passionate about? I love when a client trusts your creative vision and gives you freedom to propose ideas and concepts to develop together. In fact, I am now choosing these kind of projects where you are valued for your creative contribution and not only for your technical knowledge or gear. I don’t have a special preference about format, but the good thing about commercials and short documentaries is that due to its short form you don’t get stuck in a project for a very long time. I am the kind of creative who need to have fresh assignments running to stay fresh and keep an open perspective.
I have always believed in the importance of having your own signature in your work. I think the way to stay on the path is being faithful and honest with yourself while trying to stay open and to learn from everyone whose work you love. In the end, I try to say something, to contribute something interesting with my work.
I love art, music, cinema and design, and have a deep interest in human and social aspects. This urge for knowledge makes me work hard to find a balance between form and content in every work I do.
In the work that you are presenting us, now that it is done, what would you have done differently throughout the production? Sometimes I am tempted to raise the level of a production in the middle of it just because I love to give the customer the best I can and. You have continuous ideas that you want to share with them. Thinking outside the box is always a good thing, but when you are working with a budget you are comfortable with, it’s better to stick with it.
What current camera, lenses and sound equipment do you use? I use different cameras depending on the project. These last years I have been using mainly Canon (C300, 5D, 7D) but then I could use the Varicam LT for a short film I DPd and I loved it’s options, usability and the color science it had.
Then I started to investigate other options, discovering the Panasonic GH5 which is my main camera nowadays. When you know it, is so flexible and portable that is perfect for the kind of work I do which requires traveling constantly. For bigger projects I always rent. I love Panasonic and Blackmagic stuff.
I have been working with ZEISS lenses a lot, owning a set of Otus which I sold last year. Now I use Voigtländer a lot. I love those little beasts, so well made and such an astounding image. I try to test old manual lenses whenever I can because in this digital world I love the character they give to my projects.
I think we should not be afraid to admit that we don’t always own the last piece of equipment of the fanciest setup. I don’t think we should get obsessed with getting the ARRI Alexa look with a small mirrorless camera because that’s not going to happen. Instead of that, we should care more for the story, test our equipment or the gear available for a project, know its limitations and try to make the best with it. It is us and not any camera or piece of equipment the ones who are going to create something beautiful. To do so we have to stay active, to keep learning, to make personal projects…
You chose to shoot your project with a Panasonic GH5 camera. Can you please describe why you chose to use it, what was your workflow, were you happy with the results and will you ever go that way again? I have all the Panasonic equipment for the GH5 right now so it was easy and convenient to use it given into account that I love its results. As the project was shot on the street and interiors in three days and it was a very casual shooting I needed to move fast. I went with Panasonic GH5, and the 25mm Voigtländer for all the shoot and the SmallHd FOCUS.
What’s your favorite light equipment and why did you choose that kit over other solutions? In the past I used a lot of tungsten lights (ARRI, Lowel, etc) but now as I shoot mainly on location I use LEDs a lot. They are so flexible, easy to set up and lately they have improved their color rendition so much. This commercial was lit by a set of Aladdin lights I own. Aside from that, I love shaping natural light too and mixing it with artificial lighting.
Do you use drones or gimbals in your productions? If so, what is the most effective way you’ve found to deploy them? I have directed commercials and documentaries where we used drones but I always hire a specialised professional for this because I have to be in other areas of the production. I have used Ronin gear for handheld work too. It is very solid and stable. I like to motivate my shots so I choose carefully when to use them.
What editing systems do you use? Now I am using FCPX with color finale mainly, and DaVinci Resolve when I need more flexibility in the grade. I use After Effects too for effects or compositing. In the past I used Premiere Pro, but made the change to Apple and I find its native software works better. I use mainly a MacBook Pro 2017 and an external HP DreamColor Z27x for advanced grading.
How much of your work do you shoot in Log and what is your preferred way of colour correcting? For most of my work I use LOG because it gives me flexibility in post and the majority of work I do requires a polished finish. I am a very intuitive colorist in the sense that I like to try different options when I start a project and feel my gut when starting the grade. In that sense, I switch between Color Finale, DaVinci Resolve or now the new FCPX color incorporation.
How frequently do you travel, and do you have any tips when it comes to packing your gear? I travel a lot by plane (3 times this past month) so I try to keep my luggage with me all the time. I pack everything in portable bags such as the Tenba Cineluxe or the Lowepro 250 to carry them with me. Sometimes I pay extra or even another seat to avoid checking anything in since I have heard many bad experiences about it.
You can follow Jose Prada, his creative work, purchase his self made LUTs or learn from his online tutorials by clicking here