A former child actor who was born and raised in New York City, Reynier Molenaar made his debut in the entertainment industry as a child actor, premiering in such landmark music videos as KRS-ONE's My Philosophy, and the
Latin Empire's Puerto Rican And Proud, directed by Henry Chalfant (Style Wars). He would later in life attend The California Institute of the Arts, where
he made the switch from acting to directing-producing and began his career at Fox Searchlight Pictures, where he produced original content for films such
as I Think I Love My Wife, Notes on a Scandal, The Namesake, and Little Miss Sunshine, among many others.
Leading up to the release of mega selling multi-platinum metal band Metallica's documentary, Metallica Through the Never, IMAX reached out to him to create a short film 'Metallica – AMPED FOR IMAX' for the fans which was a collaboration with the band themselves. We asked him to share his experiences with us.
LatinoBuzz: How did you discover filmmaking?
Reynier: My dad took me to see E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial when I was about 3 years old. It was my first movie and I was captivated by the magic on the big screen. Pet aliens, flying bikes, kids outsmarting adults -- I was hooked! But when I found out that E.T. had to go home, I had a stage-4 meltdown. My dad carried me out to the lobby where he tried to comfort me. As he wiped my tears away, he revealed that movies were make-believe. He told me that they were all pretend. Somebody just made that stuff up! He even said, get this, a director's job was to make-believe with cameras. ...wait, what? MIND BLOWN. I've been playing with film ever since.
LatinoBuzz: What is the most rewarding thing about film & video for you?
Reynier: I love dreaming up stories and making them come to life. I love shepherding ideas through that creative process. There's something magical that happens when you focus all your energy on realizing your imagination -- life takes you on some incredible adventures. I've bombed around with parkour stuntmen, flown in hot-air balloons, hung off the sides of speeding cars, battled zombies, and most recently, hung out with rock legends. Every project feels like a chance to dream my next adventure into existence, which makes the work a reward unto itself.
LatinoBuzz: When you were approached by Metallica's people, what were your first thoughts and what was the creative process behind the concept you came up with?
Reynier: I was pretty stoked when IMAX contacted me about directing a branded short for Metallica Through the Never. I had just finished working with IMAX on another production (for Disney), so it was pretty gratifying to hear they wanted me back so soon. Not to mention I'm a huge Metallica fan! We kicked-off the production with a screening of Metallica Through the Never in IMAX 3D -- which was a lot of fun! It was all I could do not to break out my devil horns during the film. Then I went home and watched all of Metallica's documentaries. I found backstage footage of the band. I listened to all of their music. I wanted to make sure our short felt authentic to the fans. I wrote four concepts and then designed some visual boards. I always try to put some visuals together when I'm pitching ideas to clients
. On short-form projects, like commercials, it can be hard to convey the proper tone with just a written script. I think visuals can help everybody get on the same page very quickly. Once Metallica and IMAX signed off on the concept, things started to move really fast. Sedna Films prepped our crew in record time, including 2 units lead by my talented director of photography, Spencer Goodall. And after a couple of short weeks, we were filming Metallica, a biker gang and 1,600 screaming fans at a secret show in San Diego. I'm still pinching myself!
LatinoBuzz: I can't imagine what it is like to hang with those guys, how were they to work with?
Reynier: They were all super nice dudes, and such natural performers. I got to film with them individually, so it was cool to style each of their scenes to match their personalities. Robert Trujillo was a lot of fun to work with, since he was just as enthusiastic as some of the fans. He was incredibly generous with his takes, which helped me find some great improvised moments with him. Lars Ulrich had a really strong presence. It was pretty obvious we didn't need to do much more than point a camera at him. So we gave him some bold, dramatic lighting and let his expressive eyes do all the talking. His shots are some of my favorite in the short -- so much intensity.
We shot Kirk Hammett's scenes while he warmed up for the show. It was a pretty incredible experience to hang with the maestro while he rocked his personal axe, affectionately labeled "Kirk's Guitar." At one point my camera team and I broke away for a late bite. Since we happened to be eating an hour later than everybody else, we were the only ones around to find Metallica jamming out in their private "tuning room," next door. When James Hetfield emerged and found us scarfing down our dinner, he apologized for the loud music. We just thanked him for the awesome tunes and said we dug listening to Metallica rock while we ate. James chuckled as he walked off toward the stage, "yeah man! Dinner music!"
LatinoBuzz: What are you working on next?
Reynier: I'm on hold to direct a commercial that involves some spy action goodness... I would tell you more, but then I'd have to kill you. Just take my word for it, as a grown man with a James Bond ring tone: I'm excited!
For more of Reynier Molenaar's work, check out: http://reyniermolenaar.com
Written by Vanessa Erazo . LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow @LatinoBuzz on Twitter and Facebook .