Words and Interview by Eva Davidová
Andrea Riba a.k.a Miss Cinematica is photographer, cinematographer and creative director currently based in Los Angeles. Her intriguing photographs pay homage to iconic films, characters or eras – a Lynchian nightmare, or nostalgic 80s retroscape on VHS. Her photos are solely taken on Analog that bring us a certain sense of nostalgia, seeping with high-contrast colors, grainy sunbeams and tinges of sepia.
Like vinyl, typewriters and other analog tech, film has an enduring, authentic appeal and through Miss Cinematica we get to go back memory lane and experience this subtle nuance. Along with the creative possibilities that come with films, its low-fi, real-world aesthetic also appeals to photographers like Drea.
In a world where social media mimics analog tech, experiencing analog photos as a viewer has become an occasional occurrence. Many social media filters are based on particular film stocks or photographers. The younger generations who have gone through their middle and high school years using instagram and other image-based social media, want to know where those filters come from – this is why the world is longing for photographers like Drea that show us film is on the come-up once again and how old-school image-making liberates us from algorithms. The dreamy world of analog is helping us pursue an unfiltered connection with our own creativity…
We asked Miss Cinematica to tell us about her journey with photography, what inspires her and got a glimpse into hollywood reimagined.
Where are you currently located?
After living in Europe for many years, I finally relocated to east Los Angeles in 2019. In a city that produces quality film and tv, I feel so inspired here. Everyday I drive by multiple billboards advertising a new show, movie, or album– as opposed to tequila or law firms.
What does the word ‘Cinematic’ mean to you?
A cinematic image evokes an emotional or thought provoking story through various elements. Lens choices, lighting, wardrobe, set design, acting all work together to create a particular narrative. A woman in all black, shot in high contrast lighting with a cigarette in hand will evoke a mysterious, Orson Welles noir atmosphere. A cinematic image will have me looking for a while, inferring a narrative behind the character, the location, or the subject at hand. This is definitely the main goal of mine when coming up with a shoot concept!
Describe your creative process to us?
I’ll watch a film and think, I have to recreate this stunning scene or iconic character. But I’m not only driven by aesthetics, or bringing back the same character to life. I’ll think, what if they’re depicted through a new lens? The controversial Alex from a Clockwork Orange (1971) as a woman, or Bonnie & Clyde (1967) played by the same person. In these two shoots of mine, A Clockwork Orange II and Bonnie and Clyde, From The Future, the goal was to guide the viewer’s imagination into a realm of possibility. A big part of my conceptual process is, not only paying homage to iconic films, but presenting infinite possibilities for the kinds of people who can step into these iconic roles.
“A big part of my conceptual process is, not only paying homage to iconic films, but presenting infinite possibilities for the kinds of people who can step into these iconic roles.”
What are some iconic films that inspire your work?
The classics include: The Graduate (1967) as an iconic coming of age story, Blue Velvet (1986) and it’s lavish, speakeasy aesthetic, A Clockwork Orange (1972) and it’s brutal character study of it’s lead Alex, Scarface (1983) and it’s history of kingpins in 80’s Miami, and The Shining (1980) as a multi-layered horror film. I’m also intrigued by modern films that I believe will age to be classics, such as Ari Aster’s cult horror Midsommar (2019). All of these films tell extremely strong stories, but are met with equally strong cinematography and mise en scène that really inspire me.
What elements do you think make a film iconic?
An iconic film transports the viewer to an alternate reality they believe, and the believability is key. This reality is shaped by all the cinematic elements working together to create a specific world. Every department is working at their maximum potential to make this happen.
Lynch is noted for juxtaposing surreal or sinister elements with mundane, everyday environments, and for using compelling visual images to emphasize a dreamlike quality of mystery or menace — tell us, what drives you about the works of David Lynch?
I am deeply fascinated by a filmmaker who ignites more questions than answers. I love leaving the cinema with something to think about, and that’s exactly how Lynch’s films affect me. Mulholland Drive in particular won me over. In general, the film highlights Hollywood’s underbelly and it’s machinations. And it’s done in such a surreal fashion, yet you believe every second of it. Everyone, from the actors to the crew, are completely on board, and they’re successfully selling you a world, an idea, as a result.
“I am deeply fascinated by a filmmaker who ignites more questions than answers.”
What was a particularly memorable shoot and why?
I shot the incredibly talented recording artist Glüme as Dorothy Vallens from Blue Velvet (1986). I was shooting on Cinestill 800T film for the first time. We had rented a theater, and spent hours on hair and makeup. I felt there was a lot at stake, since I wasn’t exactly sure how the roll was going to come out. But the energy on set was so smooth I knew they had to be right. With her background in acting, Glüme tapped into the drama and desperation of Dorothy Vallens. She posed through 4 rolls, more than I’d ever shot before. I was working at a lab at the time, so I developed the rolls the very next morning. The minute I saw them, I knew they’d be some of my forever favorites. All the elements from the red backlight and mic flares were exactly what I envisioned. They soon became her debut album cover, and were posted across multiple billboards in LA. From the conceptualization to the final product, the project became bigger than I had imagined.
Tell us about your first steps with photography?
I was gifted my first DSLR when I was 12. I grew up all over the place, from Mexico to Chile, Miami, London, Prague and Berlin. I shot candids of street pedestrians and landscapes during my travels. As I grew up, I became way more interested in faces rather than places, and the textures of film. After experimenting and growing into my style, I found a way to combine my passion for film with photography, and that’s when it evolved into misscinematica.
How would you introduce Analog Photography to someone who isn’t familiar with it?
The first steps with analogue are trial and error, I’d say. Discovering which film stock aligns with your vision and story. How to light it properly, and make total use of the limited amount of photos you have on a roll. I’d say this is the opposite of a limitation, but rather, a way to carefully execute a variety of photos, each precise in it’s frame. When I first started shooting analogue, I felt I had little control of how the roll would come out. A lot of it is practice, really.
“The first steps with analogue are trial and error, I’d say.”
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently developing a short film with my sister Sofia Riba, a trained stage and screen actress, called American Girl. The story revolves around Rosario, a 24 hour laundry worker who discovers a portal into a speakeasy style cabaret bar, and gets a taste of stardom. She must find a way to remain in the portal in order to finally be seen and respected. As first generation Mexican-American sisters, we wrote the script to question and reframe Mexican discourse. Thematically, we’re referencing films such as American Beauty (1999), and aesthetically, Blue Velvet (1986).
What camera/cameras do you currently shoot with?
I shoot exclusively on Minolta STR101 35mm, with Portra400/800 and Cinestill 800T film stock. I love Portra for true skin tones, and Cinestill for it’s bold colors and ability to capture tungsten light in a cinematic way.