Where are you currently employed?
I was employed at the Photo Lab on the lot of Warner Bros.Studios in Burbank, and retired in July of this year.
At the time of my retirement, my job was to digitally scan black-and-white and color negatives and transparencies of different sizes for archiving and uploading to servers.
Describe Your Job.
I was responsible for processing all aspects of still photography coverage for feature films, including color-correcting, numbering and assigning copyright information to all images, in addition to adding visible and invisible watermarking.
I handled all orders submitted through our Media Asset Retrieval Service (MARS). This included downloading and uploading files to MARS, burning files to CDs or DVDs, e-mailing files to clients, creating basic comps in Photoshop and adding captions to files. To fulfill the MARS orders, I also scanned film and artwork, uploading all images to create catalogs in our online system, Global Edit, to be sent to talent for approval. All the material was then archived in secure servers.
Among the wide range of equipment and software I used were Epson Professional flatbed scanners, the Kodak Professional HR 500 Plus Film scanner, Fuji Frontier Laser printers, large format Epson Professional printers up to 60 inches wide, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, and Quark.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
I have been a professional photographer since I was 21 years old. I even had my own wedding photography business here in California for about 12 years. I got my first job in a photo lab in 1974 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I was born. I worked for a company called Flash Color as a color printer. They later sent me to the Kodak Company in Whittier, California, to train for a new machine they purchased called the Kodak Color Video Analyzer.
Who gave you your first break?
When I moved to the US in 1980, I was employed by Spectra American Color Lab in Sun Valley as a video analyzer, and later became supervisor of its entire printing department, with around 20 people working under me. In 1986, after working as assistant production manager for Laursen Custom Color Lab in Irvine, I worked for Pacific Studios in Hollywood, where we printed huge photographic backgrounds to be sold or rented to all the major studios, including Fox, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. These were huge, backlit backgrounds that were an average of 40 by100 feet in size! The images of these backgrounds were shot all over the world for our clients with an 8 by 10 view camera. I was in charge of printing all of the backgrounds; they required a high level of technical skills to produce.
What was your first union job?
In 1993, I landed my job in the Photo Lab at Warner Brothers. It was my first union job, at that time under Local 683, the Laboratory Film/Video Technicians and Cinetechnicians. In 2010, Local 683 merged with Local 700, the Motion Picture Editors Guild. I stayed with this job at Warners, until my retirement.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
Because of the highly specialized skills required, I am proud of both my feature film processing with Warner Bros. and the background printing with Pacific Studios; the background printing probably more so.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
Printing huge color backgrounds was very challenging. The light-sensitive material called Kodak Duratrans was 6 feet wide by 100 feet long, and a 40 by 100 feet backdrop required printing in panels that were seamed together after processing. The raw, light-sensitive material had to be handled in total darkness, and color matching all the panels precisely at the seaming point required extensive testing and using all the tricks in the book to achieve.
Each panel that ran through the processor used a large quantity of developing chemicals which disturbed the balance of the solution enough to create a mismatch on the next panel if not carefully monitored. There were also optical imperfections I had to deal with due to the extreme pushing of the lenses on the huge 8 x 10 feet vertical enlarger that sat on tracks I used. My darkroom was the size of a movie theatre!
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
As far as fun goes, it would have to be my work at Warner Bros. I worked with an excellent staff and that made the job fun.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Enjoying my retirement. I plan to travel as much as I can. I really want to see more of this beautiful country. The United States is the best country in the world and I am proud to be an American citizen!
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Photography has been, and will always be my passion. I also enjoy watching good movies from the golden years of Hollywood.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
The Godfather, which I consider a masterpiece; Casino with Robert DeNiro, one of my favorite actors; The Time Machine with Rod Taylor for the kid in me; and Soylent Green, with Charlton Heston, another one of my favorite science-fiction movies.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
The Big Bang Theory, great acting and very funny, I love it! Mom I also like very much.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Have a true passion for this type of work, and...connections!
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Yes. In 2009, management decided to apply a “cutback schedule,” forcing everyone to take two days off per week, regardless of seniority! This was in violation of our contract, which specified that in cases of a slowdown, management must lay off employees based on seniority, starting with the least senior staff first. This was an arbitrary decision, which I fought and won, thanks to the quick action of then Local 683 to preserve our rights.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
Never give up on your dreams. Persevere and you will succeed!
Compiled by Edward Landler
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