Born and raised in Los Angeles, Anthony Cabaero's creative journey began as a dancer. While performing off-broadway in New York, he started shooting to document his experience and never turned back. From the digital production lab at Industrial Color to producing at Milk Digital, Anthony has racked up over ten years of experience in the industry. Currently, he works as a production coordinator at Rosco Production, and along with that he's constantly collaborating with friends and artists to make work that feels organic and self-reflective.
This interview took place between Anthony Cabaero and Ella Jayes at Milk LA
EJ: Can you give an overview of how you got to where you are today?
AC: In a nutshell - I’ve always really been interested in the arts, specifically performance art and photography. I danced professionally from a teenager to my early twenties and was extremely fortunate to travel at a young age, exposing me to a lot of culture and art. When I was 22 I went to New York to perform in an off-broadway show called Groovaloos. I was inspired to pick up a camera and document our life backstage - that really turned into my first reportage bodies of work. That project was a big turning point for me and shortly after, I made the decision to pursue a career in the photography.
I started interning for a photographer, Patrick Hoelck in Los Angeles. It was a real crash course of seeing how the business of photography worked and I learned so much shadowing his producer and day-to-day team. I think that internship was pivotal for me early on and gave me the contacts to move up in the industry. With that experience, I ended up applying at Industrial Color and luckily got the job.
Tell me about your time at Industrial Color.
They're amazing. I worked there for almost three years. I first started in their print department, then was a digital lab technician/onset retoucher and in my last year transferred to work for GLOBALedit. They were all pretty technical jobs but I really loved getting to work with photography every day. Industrial Color had so many different divisions and so many talented people working there like Andrew Makadsi (Creative Director for Beyonce/Parkwood) and Santiago Gonzalez (DP). I’ve still kept in contact with a lot of artists from IC and still get to collaborate with them today, which is awesome.
So from Industrial Color, you then went to Milk Studios. What was that transition like?
I got brought over to Milk by the cinematographer Alex Themistocleous who I worked with at Industrial Color. Maybe a year after he left IC, I got a call from him saying that he thought he had a perfect job for me. I actually had never been a producer but I was up for the change and challenge. Also, Milk was pretty known to have the best parties, haha.
So then you became a Digital Producer at Milk? What did that job entail?
The day-to-day of a digital producer at Milk is essentially being an agent/producer for the staff digital techs and cinematographers. Managing schedules, bookings, preparing estimates, and working with the entire team so that all the shoots go smoothly. I also produced digital content, short films and music videos with artists like Durimel, Rhuigi Villaseñor (RHUDE), Jerry Lorenzo (Fear of God), Van Alpert, Michel Comte, Kenneth Cappello, among others.
And then you moved to London?
After four years at Milk, I moved to London to enjoy some time off and decompress from a lot of nonstop work. The long trip really helped me to recharge and get re-inspired. I got connected with Rosco Production in London and had my mind set on working for them. Only an internship was available, but that didn’t discourage much. I figured I’d just show up every day and it would eventually lead to a job. The internship was pretty demanding and I learned a lot from a really wonderful group of people there.
It was almost like I was back at my first internship. It was humbling. I just did everything and anything to be helpful. I was assisting the producers, packing jobs, and helping on set. I had to kind of swallow my pride because I came from a really glitzy place like Milk. But I was in London, and I was loving my life, and the people were really great, so I just buckled down and worked a lot of hard hours. I set-up coffees, and did stuff that I normally wouldn't do. I think that’s why travel and getting out of your comfort zone is so important, that’s the only real way to get a new perspective on your own life.
Was there ever a time while you were in London that you thought, "What have I just done?"
Yeah, I thought that a lot. You know, when you're on jobs and they're like, "Hey, take these V-flats up to the 20th floor with the other interns." That was kind of hard because I've been working in the industry for almost 10 years. I think that was the biggest mental battle to get through. But it shows you that you can't be scared to start back at zero, and know that it's going to take you somewhere else. I think that was the hardest thing: to basically have blind faith. And to know what you're doing may not turn into what you thought.
You're growing in such a different way though.
I always say it's all about friendships. The other intern that I was working with became one of my best friends, and she's now an amazing set designer. It’s definitely not always about the job – it's about the process, the friendships, and the growth.
Then I ended up moving back to LA later that year because of visa issues, but luckily got connected with Rosco Production LA and began working for them here.
So now you're doing still and digital production at Rosco, what does a job look like from start to finish?
Production has a lot of moving parts, especially the larger the shoot. I'm a production coordinator at Rosco. I work under our senior producers on all photo and video shoots. My job is to provide support for the entire pre-production and production process. That includes assessing the given creative and optioning all kinds of artists such as DPs, camera crews, photo assistants, stylists, hair, makeup, etc. I help with estimating, call sheets, art buying research, and reconciling jobs for billing. I really do get to see the entire process which I really enjoy.
As a production coordinator, how do you make it all happen?
I think photo/video production is unique because I get to use my resources and suggest people that I’ve worked with in from different parts of my career. It really takes an army of talented people to get a job done.
I always tell anyone young that wherever they live, you are probably more of an expert on more than you think. You already have the advantage of knowing where the coolest locations are, new creatives, and access to talent through your friends at school. I think that's why our generation and everyone that you interview on your website is so connected because it's all about utilizing those relationships. The internet has a huge reach and if you are doing something cool, some will find you.
Rosco has offices in LA, New York, and London. How would you say they differ?
All of the offices have extremely strong staffs and I wouldn’t say they differ too much. It’s really cool to see how seamless a global company can run and give the same service to clients in multiple countries. There are subtle things that are unique to each office such as London and New York gets a lot of strong editorial/fashion work because of their proximity to the fashion houses. As Los Angeles has more celebrity shoots because of Hollywood. New York is just kind of a mix of the two worlds.
Coming into a new production company, how do you blend your vendors and roster of people with the company's go-to people?
When I started at Rosco I was really respectful of who they worked with, and I made sure I didn’t make a ton of suggestions early on. I think it's really important to respect and understand a groups process before trying to introduce new elements. I worked there for a while before I started to slowly introduce ideas. Being in the industry for 10 years really helped me though because I was able to bring in people that are my actual friends, you know? People that I really trust and respect.
You're working on a project with Red Bull and Van Alpert as well too?
Yes! Van Alpert is a super talented director and artist that I love to produce for. We’ve collaborated a bunch over the years and the projects never disappoint. We are currently working on a short film that is coinciding with the Red Bull Music Festival in LA. It’s pretty full circle for me because I worked with Red Bull when I was a young dancer for events like the Red Bull Beat Riders and Red Bull BC One, so it’s pretty funny to be working on this side of the production now. I can’t talk too much about this current project since it is not out yet, but it has been a really fun film to work on.
And your project, DOGS TOOTH?
DOGS TOOTH is a boutique photo lab for creatives in art and fashion. DOGS TOOTH is for a new generation of film shooters and will be heavily retail focused as well. It’s basically a skate shop for photographers – you can process + scan your film, buy an art book, and leave with a cool 35mm point and shoot camera. We are focusing on cultivating new careers and providing resources to a new breed of photographers.
How did you come up with the name?
I wanted a name that spoke to design, fashion, and photography because that represents the three pillars of the store. DOGS TOOTH is shorthand for houndstooth, for all the fashion nerds out there. Dogstooth pattern also interestingly matches the fine pattern on DSLR sensors. These two overlapping patterns cause moire (rainbow artifacts) when shooting digitally. Film cameras will never have this problem.
Looking towards the future, what do you have in mind?
I would love to have DOGS TOOTH branch out to be a really amazing store that speaks to our generation of artists and creatives and our sensibilities with fashion and photography, which I don't really get to see too much of in LA. I’d love to see a simple idea to grow into something that can inspire others.
What advice would you give to someone that looks up to you?
Have some perseverance and appreciate where you're at. Be humble and don’t be afraid to ask for an opportunity, work your ass off, have fun and you'll get exactly where you want to be.