Ernesto Pletsch describes his childhood as being a full-time observer. He didn’t talk much, but he was always aware of the small details around him. He was always fascinated by art and photography, taking time to study every part of an image. These habits have stayed with him since that time, and are part of why he is an extraordinary cinematographer today.
At 14 years old, Pletsch got his first real camera. He would shoot and edit videos of whatever he was living, earning the reputation of filmmaker from a young age. There was never any doubt about what he should do with his life, and this passion translates to all of his work.
“I love cinematography. It is all about the visual, and I have a visual mind. It's easy for me to recreate scenes in my head and play with them. My visual memory is also very strong, most of the times I bring references that I see in daily life. The small details make the whole difference to me. I love cinematography because it is a job that never repeats itself. You can be in the craft for 30 years and no scene will ever be the same. There's always something you can change and improve. There's no monotony and you'll never know everything. It is always developing,” said Pletsch.
Throughout his esteemed career, Pletsch has had many achievements with every project he embarks on. The film Pumpkin went on to be officially selected for multiple international film festivals, and Pletsch was recognized on a world stage for the film when it won the Award of Recognition for Best Cinematography at the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival. He impresses all those he works with, and has a reputation as one of the best.
“I worked with Ernesto on multiple short film projects including the cinematographically challenging Back to Buxton Boulevard, the comedic yet dark themed RIP Samantha Green, and the horror/comedy hybrid Goal to Perfection. Ernesto took on the role of main Director of Photography for all three of these ambitious projects,” said Director Steven Jay. “Working with Ernesto is incredibly easy. Not only does he understand the vision and tone I wish to portray in the piece, but he also adds to it; making appropriate suggestions and succeeding in capturing visually stunning frames, while maintaining an innovative approach and going the extra mile to gift-wrap the film in a fresh manner. He never loses his temper or gets stressed, he's incredibly patient, and he clearly enjoys what he does. Not only is it a pleasure being on set with him, but he also makes you feel peace of mind that you're creating something fantastic.”
“He's incredibly knowledgeable and talented in his field, more so than any director of photographer I've worked with, but another reason that makes him unique is that he doesn't have an overpowering ego like most cinematographers. His modesty allows him to fully collaborate with the director and his gaffer without putting a spanner in the works. That, combined with a keen eye and impressive passion makes him a darn good cinematographer,” Jay added.
This pattern for success started from Pletsch’s first project as a cinematographer, the short film Dry. Dry depicts the drama of a couple living in an era of scarce water, and is a science fiction film, one of Pletsch’s favorite genres.
“I was anxious to have a taste of the narrative format,” Pletsch recalled.
The film is a dream and reality mix, causing Pletsch to use his cinematographic creativity to perfectly capture the images of both. There were two different looks that were established through lighting and filtration. The reality was hazy, desaturated tones, low ambient light and cold colors. The dream look had warmer light, brighter overall and has a softer image because of a 'classic soft' filter that was used in front of the lenses.
“It's a photographic language that anyone can understand without the use of a single word. This is just a minimal sample of what cinematography is capable of. Our mix turned out well and played an important role for the end of the story,” said Pletsch.
Dry premiered on October 2nd, 2015 at Treasure Coast International Film Festival at Port St. Lucie, where it was an Official Selection. It went on to be an Official Selection at LA CineFest, III Festival de Cinema de Pinhais, and 9o Festival de Cinema da Lapa, seeing success in both the United States, and Brazil, Pletsch’s native country.
“It feels great to know that many people have appreciated the movie as much as we did making it. I feel grateful for being part of it and making a point in my career as a cinematographer,” said Pletsch.
While the film saw great success, it still came with its challenges. It was filmed in a small space, creating a physical limitation on location as they couldn't reach the windows from outside, creating the need for a haze machine to create a dusty, misty atmosphere. For Pletsch, there is always a solution.
“Dry expanded my horizons on my craft. It made me see what I could accomplish. I think this project was a great introduction for what my life would be from there on. It motivated me on my first steps through narrative photography,” he concluded.