USA Network’s Queen of the South Uses Blackmagic Cameras to Capture Grit

Blackmagic Design recently announced that USA Network’s ‘Queen of the South’ used Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema Cameras extensively, and URSA Mini Pro, to capture a wide range of imagery for season three of the series. Director of Photography Abe Martinez, who started with the show as 2nd Unit Cinematographer, took over reigns as first unit DP this season, and immediately brought his passion for innovate camera work to the show’s main unit.

Queen of the South tells the story of Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga) and her beginnings in Jalisco, Mexico, where in an effort to escape her life of poverty, she begins to date a member of a successful drug cartel. But when her boyfriend is murdered, she must go on the run to save her own life. Escaping to America, she teams up with an unlikely partner to take down the leader who took her boyfriend’s life, and in the process creates her own rival cartel.

Shot entirely in practical locations for season three, production started in Malta, and moved to Dallas, Chicago, Bolivia and Arizona throughout the shoot. “Since we used practical locations,” said Martinez. “We had to be quick, on the move and squeeze into a lot of tight spaces.”

He chose to rely on the Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema Camera for its high quality and compact size. “We had many rigs that spanned from car work, boat work, plane work… actually, if it moved we had a mount on it with our Micro Cinema Cameras.”

As for the URSA Mini Pro, Martinez found it provided a high level of flexibility over other solutions. “Some of the other cameras out there require a lot of moving parts to be attached. What I love about the URSA Mini Pro is that it has a high level of tactile manoeuvrability for me. I can get it into tighter spaces as is, and grab it at the last minute if I need it. I can jump into a point of view that normally it would have been hard to get.”

Traditionally, the series has shot using a variety of cameras, but Martinez wasn’t worried about matching the Blackmagic cameras to them. “We had a great team at Light Iron ensuring all the cameras matched seamlessly,” said Martinez. “The thing we like about the Blackmagic cameras is that they could hold their own against any camera. It never worried us to mix up footage.”

Martinez loves working on the show not only because it offers challenges in its photography, but also that the show is shot much like the main character lives in the story. “We actually live on the run just like our main character, which means moving fast, serving a lot of international looks. Our sets and locations are diverse, and so are our shooting methods.”

The show also has a large appetite for stunts, but Martinez is always ready. “We had mounts and rigs for every setup, lots of stunts, explosions and chase work,” said Martinez. “I actually had a full time crew member, Scott Reese, assigned to handle the URSA Mini Pro’s, gimbal, jib and all of our Micro Cinema Camera needs.”

His rigs were extensive, including pole cams, rear view mirror cam, pogo cam and crane cam. “We were always looking for that extra tight angle or perspective to serve the story.”

The Micro Cinema Cameras also served as the main camera for certain car work. “The European car we had for our hero actors was too small for two operators. So we rigged two Micro Cameras on a bungee, with adjacent video assist monitors, and shot them simultaneously. Having one operator shooting with two cameras at once was quite unique.”

Martinez loves working on the show, not only for the challenges of the shoot, but also for the team around him. “I’m thrilled to be part of a show with an amazing cast and crew,” said Martinez. “But the real fun is in the style we shoot with – loose and on the go. We are always looking for ways to make the most of our locations, and having the flexibility of Blackmagic cameras gives us that extra push over the edge.”

Visit https://www.blackmagicdesign.com


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