Camaras y Luces – Buenos Aires

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Camaras y Luces lives up to its reputation as a rental house and studio to which most others should aspire. The attention to detail, quality of service, and condition of equipment is matched by only a few other companies worldwide.

The main offices are in the “Hollywood of South America” section of Buenos Aires — an area of production companies, studios, motion picture services and restaurants. Camaras y Luces reminds me a little of ARRI’s complex of offices and studios on Tuerkenstrasse in Munich. Both companies occupy almost an entire city block on a residential street. C&L  grew from a small office, where cameraman Jose Maria Pagazaurtundua began renting out his first Arriflex 2C and Eclair Cameflex cameras. Today C&L is a small cinema city with studios, offices, a large fleet of cameras, grip, generator, and lighting trucks — and well-stocked camera, lighting, grip, and repair departments. Jose Maria’s son Jonas presides over the camera department.

Well-stocked may be an understatement. This is the largest rental house in South America.

In the accompanying slide show, there’s a series of pictures of Arriflex cameras from 2C to present. The cameras were set up in the C&L studio as part of our lecture. It may be one of the best collections of ARRI history anywhere–and is like a time-travel refresher course of camera design.

C&L’s Studio City is about an hour away in the nearest industrial park of Buenos Aires’ suburbs. It’s in a nice area, near a fancy golf course and residential communities. There’s a Hollywood studio style water tower,  9 massive sound stages, and plans to add more. Production offices, make-up, hair, wardrobe and dining rooms are conveniently located next to each studio. A large polo-field size back lot and lawn served as the setting for a delicious barbecue a la parrilla, tended by Jose Maria and the studio manager, accompanied by a superb Foster’s Malbec.

Jonas told me a story about his father that epitomizes the company’s attention to detail. I commented that the downtown C&L offices were among of the cleanest and best organized I had ever seen — and Studio City had the most impeccably maintained sound stages and grounds I had ever set foot on. The only place cleaner might be Singapore airport. Jonas replied that if his father sees a crew member dropping a cigarette on the ground, he stares the person in the eye and calmly picks up the butt and throws it away in one of the ubiquitous cigarette/trash receptacles. They quickly get the message.

I think producers have already gotten the message about this major company with superb facilities.

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