Cinematographer from the Bronx discusses new Netflix film ‘The Forty-Year-Old Version’

Bronx native Eric Branco with star Rahda Blank
Courtesy of Netflix

Bronx native Eric Branco knew from a young age the glitz and glamour of Hollywood was his calling. Though he did not choose to become an actor in front of the camera, he found his purpose making movie magic behind the scenes.

Branco, who is a cinematographer, had his film “The Forty-Year-Old Version” come out on Netflix, on Oct. 9. The film follows 40-year-old single, struggling playwright Radha.

“I love telling stories and watching stories,” Branco said.

The film follows Radha’s story as she faces rejections in the theater world while teaching teenagers. Her life changes when she rediscovers her passion for rapping while her play simultaneously gains traction, leading her to compromise her voice for career success.

Branco shot “The Forty-Year-Old Version” almost entirely on 35mm black and white film and was inspired by various New York street photographers. He collaborated with the director, writer and star of the film, Radha Blank and worked closely with the costume and production designers regarding how colors and lighting would show up on the black and white film, as they didn’t have a digital monitor to rely on.

His past cinematography work includes “Clemency,” the Sundance 2019 Grand Jury Prize winner.

Director, writer and star of the film, Radha BlankCourtesy of Netflix

Branco, 35, lived in Pelham Parkway, Riverdale and Kingsbridge until 2017 when he moved to Los Angeles. Growing up in the Boogie Down, he recalled going to museums, taking acting classes and participating in plays.

“I knew I wanted to do something related to the arts,” he explained. “I kind of dabbled in everything.”

He loved Woody Allen and Spike Lee flicks, but soon realized many of his favorites only took place in New York. Branco explained to the Bronx Times that as a kid he didn’t realize there were other places besides the Big Apple.

Branco recalled how he initially wanted to be an actor, but everything changed in high school when he began making short films with his friends.

“As a kid, acting was the only job available to me,” he said

He soon realized his passion was using the camera to beautify the actors and make everyone appealing. He credited a lot of his success to his Bronx upbringing and his mom Elizabeth, a retired history teacher.

“Growing up in the Bronx gave me a great sense of community,” he stressed. “I think people of the Bronx are the best people in the world.”

Watch the trailer for “The Forty-Year-Old Version.”

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