From a 2004 interview on IGN, he says this about his history: "I was born in Chile, the third generation of Germans there. And, we moved to Mexico, from Mexico in '73 I moved to Europe, where I started working in film. I started with Arriflex, the company that makes the cameras. I was there for a year and I did kind of a trainee type of year where I was in the sound department, in the lab, in the studio working with the actual productions and also assembling cameras. And then I moved to Europe, where I lived three years, and then, back in '76, I did my first movie as a camera assistant, which was 21 Hours at Munich. And then, I kept on going, I moved up to focus puller or first AC, and then operating and then DP-ing. And then I was DP-ing commercials and then I started directing commercials in the late 80's and beginning of [the] 90's. I was working with Jan De Bont and doing his second unit as a DP while he was a DP. He is the one that really gave me the break on Speed to start directing second unit."