David Vargas has a front row seat to all of HBO’s star-studded premieres and events. The 2008 Film grad works as a freelance cameraman and editor for HBO Latin America, capturing all of the footage and celebrity interviews that end up on “VIP Pass,” the network’s original segment that airs between programming. It’s a pretty cool gig – frequently traveling from his home in Miami to New York and Los Angeles to hang out with the casts of shows like “Game of Thrones,” “Silicon Valley,” and “Girls” – and it’s one that David was assertive enough to land for himself.
David started out as an intern at HBO Latin America in Miami in 2008, which he landed after attending a Career Development presentation with the company on campus. He shadowed the network’s editing department, learning how to cut together movie trailers and promos, and when a full-time editor needed to take a leave of absence, he stepped in and “piloted the seat” until she returned. When his three-month internship was finished, HBO continued to call him back to work as a freelance editor on a number of projects, one of which was “VIP Pass.”
“What’s always made me a strong camera operator is my work as an editor and that I’m always shooting for the edit,” says David. “When I started editing ‘VIP Pass’ I saw that the producer wasn’t happy with some of the shots. I told her that my camera work would benefit the show since I knew how it was edited and what kind of shots were needed, and that I thought she should give me a chance. And she did.”
He covered the Brazilian Film Festival in Miami in 2009, and after that, headed out to Los Angeles to cover the season premiere of “Entourage.”
“My first trip ever to L.A. was with a camera on my shoulder, which for me was a victory, a huge personal accomplishment,” says David.
Working at HBO Latin America has opened dozens of doors for David, who also works as a cameraman on PBS’s medical documentary show “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind,” and owns his own production company, Penilican Pictures. His promo video for the non-profit I Have a Dream Foundation recently nabbed him his first Telly Award. He credits HBO for helping him establish the connections with pretty much every important person he knows in the industry.
This summer David will start shooting his first feature film in Miami, Love and Hostages, thanks in part to a Kickstarter campaign for the project that was successfully funded last month. It brings him full circle back to the original goal he had set for himself when he was at Full Sail – to make movies.
“It boggles my mind that this all started with a a Career Development presentation at Full Sail,” says David. “And now, the fact that everything has fallen into place [with Love and Hostages and the successful Kickstarter fundraiser] says nothing else to me other than I’m doing the right thing and following the right path.”