Being passionate about what you do means that you will go wherever opportunities present themselves—even if that means traveling over 8000 miles to get there or just jumping into a project for a short time. Spanish cinematographer Dani Sanchez-Lopez (MFA/FP ’09) took his talents to Asia when work was limited in Los Angeles. And he took advantage of a brief stint with the Sundance Institute in 2010—both offered learning opportunities.
“One of the best things that happened to me at that time was the access to all contemporary filmmakers,” says Sanchez-Lopez of working at Sundance, “so I understood where the new contemporary cinema was going.”
In Asia, he found connections with fellow alumni that led him from one project to the next.
In India and Pakistan, Sanchez-Lopez had the benefit of working with Ammar Rasool (MFA/Directing ’10) and Mian Adnan Ahmad (MFA/Directing ’09). Rasool and Sanchez-Lopez co-directed a music video by East Side Story titled Qatil Akh (Widow Spider) in 2014. They also collaborated on a documentary for the Coke Studio in Pakistan titled The Journey Within, which brought together Eastern and Western sounds.
Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Sanchez-Lopez to make a name for himself. He directed a music video for the popular Pakistani rock group Noori titled Aik Tha Badshah, which was nominated for a Hum Award in 2015 for Best Music Video. The video “was supposed to be for another song” but the group’s style was headed in a different direction, says Sanchez-Lopez. “They liked the music video so much they created another song just for that, with lyrics that encumber the narrative that I created.”
Recently, Sanchez-Lopez shot a feature titled Mahanati that tells the story India’s first female superstar, Savitri. Savitri rose to stardom in acting, singing, dancing, and eventually directing and producing, before her personal life fall apart. Mahanati is set to release March 29, 2018.
Sanchez-Lopez has since returned to Los Angeles and is preparing to start production on a project long in the making. The MisEducation of Bindu is a feature film that started as a short while Sanchez-Lopez was enrolled at Dodge College. He worked with Prarthana Mohan (MFA/Directing ’09) and Kay Tuxford (MFA/Screenwriting ’08) who created the story about the challenges an Indian-American girl faces as she transitions from home schooling to a public high school.
Looking back on his career, thus far Sanchez-Lopez advises current students is “to create a community for yourselves. Keep working,,” he says. “Create projects with peers from Chapman University if work isn’t out there.”
To see more of Sanchez-Lopez’ work, visit dslcine.com.
This article originally appeared in the 2018 spring issue of In Production Magazine. Find the full issue and past issues here.