The Mexico City native became obsessed with movies in his teens, attending local second-run cinemas that ran a different feature every day and frequenting film festivals. While studying filmmaking at the Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos, he gravitated toward cinematography, serving as the DP on friends’ projects. Unfortunately, when he graduated, Mexico was experiencing a period of economic turmoil, “which basically killed the film industry,” he says. Undaunted, he worked on commercials, documentaries and short film projects, finally scoring his big break in 2004 with his Jim Jarmusch-influenced black-and-white photography on “Duck Season,” directed by film school classmate Fernando Eimbcke, which earned him cinematography honors at Mexico’s Ariel Awards. He earned another Ariel Award for “Silver Light” (2007) and a nomination for Eimbcke’s “Lake Tahoe” (2008).
For the past three years, Zabe has been living in Los Angeles, working on a wide variety of projects, from the Adidas-sponsored short film “Original Is Never Finished” to writer-director Sean Parker’s upcoming “The Florida Project.” He has also shot music videos for the Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and “Marilyn Monroe,” plus the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Sacrilege.”
The Variety Magazine selected him to be one of the 10th cinematographers to watch in 2017.
“I evolved and developed in Mexico, but it opens up a whole new universe to live in the U.S.,” says Zabe.