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Justin Mengere – Filmmaker and Photographer

I think film making is a gift. In a continent where our identity has been limited to so little of what we really are, we need all the films to rewrite our legacy and show the world who we really are. I spoke to Justin to understand how he makes his art stand out.

1. Being an artist what attributes do you think most describe you?

This would be, patient, creative and spontaneous.

2. What does an ordinary shoot day look like for you out of Nairobi (for instance when you worked on Turkana: A journey to remember?)

A shoot day outside Nairobi would depend on the temperature of where we are for example Turkana during the day is very hot, so we shoot early in the morning to around 9/10 am then late in the evening, on every trip I always try my best to catch every sunrise and sunset, so that is where my day begins and ends.

After the sunrise we would now get on to our duties as there are places to visit and shoot everyday of the trip, most times we spend our time in the car and constantly stopping to film something cool or important.

3. Are you a detail-oriented person and planner or do you prefer to go with the flow?

I am both a detailed person and I also go with the flow, I don’t plan my shots in terms of how they should look but in my head I know I want a shot that will fit this time in my edit and so I go with the flow of the day, and through out the shoot I try to get the shots I feel would be great.

I always shoot to edit so I’m always thinking of how I’ll edit when I’m shooting. Generally I think I go with the flow more than planned because I also like to enjoy the moment and if you plan and things aren’t going as planned you’ll get stressed and mess things up.

4. What gear do you use when shooting your projects?

I use a Sony A7III with mostly a 50mm and a 35mm , I also use from time to time a Canon EOS R with 50mm and a 35 or 28mm.

5. What does photography and film making mean for you?

Photography and film making is a God given talent for me and I really enjoy what I do and I believe this is what I was meant to do in this world.

6. Is this a skill you studied in school?

No, I did not study this skill in school unless we consider YouTube university as a school 🙂

7. You’ve worked with a number of influencers including Sheila Ndinda, Sharon Mwangi and Foi Wambui what has your experience with them been like?

Working with influencers teaches you how to handle people with different personalities, they are also really great people individually and they all have a lesson to teach you at the end of the day, it may be about life, creativity or the industry.

My experience has been good and even if there was a bad one I still learnt something but rarely is there a bad experience.

8. You shared a quote on your Instagram saying ‘Creativity is not a competition’ how do you ensure you don’t get sucked into the rat-race of money and fame?

I put Jesus in front of my career, in front of everything I do in my own life. God is front and center of everything I do in life, He guides me on the correct decisions to make, God always has my best interest in His heart even if when I don’t think so.

9. Which project(s), so far have you enjoyed shooting most and why?

The Turkana project was really fun to shoot. It was filled with a lot of adventure and drama, and everyday had something to laugh about and completely new to experience. It was great.

10. Film making and photography has previously been used as a tool of cultural appropriation by the West, how do you maintain the authenticity of cultures as you create?

I listen and take notes to what the true stories are here in Kenya. Before filming, we first listen and watch how our subject goes on there day to day lives, making sure we don’t lie about their culture.

11. Can we expect more projects to be up on your YouTube channel in the future?

Yes for sure, I am working on so much more.

12. Which apps do you use to edit your work?

Premiere pro, after effects videography and lightroom and photoshop for photos 

13. Who has been your mentor in the art field?

I’d say in Kenya the likes of Mutua Matheka of where he has reached with travel. Also Osbourne Macharia.

in videography KG Brian has inspired me with Cj pixels, J.maina and many other videographers that i’ve worked with. Internationally, i love Bryn North from South Africa his work is amazing, Peter Mckinnon is a good videographer and the likes of Sam Kolder who are really great at what they do and original.

14. What inspires you to create?

I get inspired by life generally, individual stories and other creatives, inspiration is everywhere even in movies and by how I feel on a certain topic.

15. What stories do you hope your art tells to anyone who interacts with it?

A story of hope and excitement , when anyone sees my work i want them to feel as if they to can achieve what they want to do in their own life, it’s all possible with God by your side.

Get up close and personal by checking his Instagram here and YouTube Channel here. Want to chat? Don’t be shy drop me an email on info@glynismaina.co.ke. Don’t forget to follow me Instagram here like my Facebook Page here and subscribe to my YouTube channel here

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