Born in Mexico City, Alexis Zabé, ASC started a love affair with cinema as a teenager, when he would go to local second-run theaters that showed a different feature each day. As a second-generation photographer, the young man grew up around cameras, dark rooms and images. Therefore, he says, his gravitation toward cinematography while at film school was “very organic.”
Zabé graduated from college when Mexico was experiencing “a period of economic turmoil, which slowed the film industry to a crawl for a few years,” he says. As a result, Zabé pursued work in music videos and commercials as well as “a stint in an animation studio doing stop-motion/time-lapse cinematography and motion control.”
In the early aughts, the cinematographer took a year off to study yoga in India, which was “an experience that reshaped my approach to life and my craft.” When he returned to Mexico, Zabé photographed Duck Season, a black-and-white comedy directed by his film school classmate Fernando Eimbcke. The film won several Ariel Awards, including Best Picture and Best Cinematography. In 2007 Zabé shot Silent Light, which also won Best Picture and Best Cinematography Ariel Awards. His work in the 2008 feature Lake Tahoe earned him another Ariel nomination.
The cinematographer then moved to the Yucatán peninsula, where he explored documentary filmmaking, photographing Hecho en Mexico as well as a series of documentaries on Native American traditional medicine.
Zabé has since relocated to Los Angeles, where he has served as director of photography on a number of projects and has received several nominations and awards for his work in commercials and music videos. His music video credits include Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and “Marilyn Monroe,” as well as the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Sacrilege.”
He has also photographed the features The Florida Project, Tyrel and A Fistful of Dirt.
His upcoming projects include the drama Zhai.