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"The 33 is the most impressive thing I have done in my life": DP Checco Varese

The greatest challenge of a DP is filming under extreme conditions of light, and Checco Varese knows it.
But best of all, is that the cinematographer has exited gracefully from the most complex project of his career: 'The 33', a movie from Patricia Riggen, where with skill and sensitivity he was able to portray the emotions of the Chilean miners who were trapped underground, as well as their families waiting for them on the surface.
"One of the most complex issues at the time of filming this movie was that we worked in two distinctive mines in Colombia and each one had their problems. One was very small; the other had large spaces and the handling of light was totally different.
"The tunnels where the landslides were filmed were in Zipaquirá. But all the ones inside, when they were in a refuge, when they were dying, their last supper and when drill entered, the rail, everything was filmed in a small mine in Nemocón," related the Peruvian in a telephone interview from Los Angeles.
Checco with his extensive experience and passion for his work, knew that he was in front of one of the most important challenges of his career, and there was no margin for error.
"Patricia (the Director) said to me: 'Look this is the best opportunity of your career, it is a blank canvas, and you can do whatever you want'...that is never going to happen again in my life, never again."
"And to achieve the effect we had to give a hand to all the tools: in Nemocón, the small mine, with an entrance of one meter, 65cm high by 70cm wide, we had to move the 15ft Technocrane inside that EFD had rented us, but before we could do it the crane had to be disassembled, unmounted and taken inside, where it lived for six weeks," he recalls.
Because of the filming conditions, careful selection of the lighting was required, in addition of course, also the selection of the camera and the optics.
"My order for the cinema lighting in the mine was practically non-existent: thousands, two thousand, five thousand and ten thousand, in addition a track of Kino flos that I never used, because everything I basically needed inside was light from the helmets of the miners, their spotlights, lamps, in other words all cabling was used for everything the film needed: the work lights.
"The great contribution of EFD was the cameras and all cabling, we took five Alexas XT, three for the first unit and two for the second, as well as a range of Angenieux lenses," he said.
But satisfaction of a mission accomplished in a film that has touched everyone, has had an unrivaled flavor for "Checco" and all of his team.
"What I enjoyed most was the end" - he jokes - "think it is the hardest film that I have done in my life, but it is what has given me the most personal satisfaction, I have worked 30 years doing this and "Los 33" is the most impressive thing I've done in my life," he concludes.