IWD 2016 – Cristina Patino Sheen – Director / Editor / Self-Shooter
Originally from Peru, Cristina is a bilingual Director, Camera Op and Editor, now residing in London. Creative and with an incredible eye, Cristina captures magical moments and constructs compelling narrative.
My Road to Success
Moving to the UK from Lima, Perú in 2010 was probably the biggest decision I’ve ever made. I left family, friends and a great steady job as a Commercial Editor, to pursue my ambition of becoming a Film Director. There was no relying on anybody but myself – this not only made me more independent but I found in myself the urge to excel and making the films that I wanted to make. I am so grateful for the amazing opportunities my new adventure has given me.
After graduating with Merit from my Directing Digital Film Masters course at Bournemouth University, I went into an intense training and selection process to finally be hired by the Olympics Broadcasting Services as Camera Assistant at the London 2012 Olympic Games. I assisted the renowned ESPN Cameraman Reid Nelson covering the sailing races at the Osprey Sailing Academy in Weymouth. Team work was key during my time covering the Olympics and it was a real pleasure to get to work alongside the BBC team at such a worldwide event. I even got the opportunity to cheer on the Peruvian team at the Laser Radial race on our speedboat, which became our shooting base during my Olympic time. It was definitely the experience of a lifetime!
My Greatest Achievement So Far
Amantani UK is an Oxford based charity that works to bridge the gap between home and school for children living in a remote district in Cusco, Peru. They provide 60 disadvantaged children with accommodation near school and support their education and self-esteem. When Amantani asked me in 2013 to direct their project ‘Meet My World’, I fell in love with it instantly. Twelve children each wrote a script each about a traditional skill from their culture that they wanted to share with the world. The scripts were sent to me and over 3 months created 12 visual treatments. It was a real challenge, because even though I had been to Cusco before, I never had that face to face in-depth experience with people from those communities. I had never been to the places that they described, so coming up with visuals was a bit tricky. It felt like I was working blindfolded at times. I needed to decide what equipment to bring and to figure out the setup at a bunch of locations that I’ve never seen before. So it was really exciting, but also nerve-racking, especially as I like being in control of everything (go figure!). So I had to let go, have plan A, B and C, and enjoy it. Welcome to the documentary world!
After 3 long weeks in Corca, and realising for the first time the real struggles, but the immense generosity and resilience of the amazing children and their families, I went back to London for the post-production part of my journey. After a long editing process, the films were finally finished. They were premiered at the Millbank Media Centre at a really cool cinema theatre. The screenings sold out, the Amantani team and I had an awesome time sharing our journey with everyone, and it had the support of a bunch of well known people, such as Stephen Fry. Meet My World was also part of the Latin American Film Festival and since then have been touring in New York, Amsterdam, Morocco etc.
In 2015 we went back to film Meet My World Season 2. Oh man, haven’t we raised the bar this time. The theme this time was ‘how to have fun in the Andes’. There is so much more storytelling, some old faces are back, and there are a few new ones. Their stories are fantastic and I can’t wait to finally release them. I am in the middle of post-production, and we’re hoping to premiere them in September.
The series has awoken a social responsibility in my work. I’m never quite satisfied, I am always looking for ways to challenge myself and take my work to the next level. So, stay tuned, because there is a lot more to come.
My Biggest lessons in Life and Work
Everything will be ok. Even if you mess up, you always learn. And you’ll never make the same mistake twice. Starting as a freelancer and now becoming the Director of my company Criskcracker Films, hasn’t been easy. Before moving from Peru, I used to have what I would call a “plan of life”. Yes, that’s how I literally called it. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, how to get there, how long it would take me… It was like my life was already written and I was just following the instructions leaflet. Since coming here, I live by the day. It is kind of scary and very challenging, but so much more refreshing.
Being a Woman in This Industry
Sometimes I think that being a woman in this industry is a real challenge. There is a lot to prove. A lot to reassure to a lot of people. But I love challenges. I’m running this marathon and I won’t stop running it. I have confidence in myself and most importantly, I love what I do. I can’t see myself doing anything else. I love telling stories that change hearts. I love making people feel. I want my films to always become vehicles that can take you to different worlds. I want them to create goosebumps on your skin. I feel it is my duty to give voice to the people who should be heard. To make a difference in the world. That’s all.