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Daily Inspiration: Meet Mike Monti

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Monti.

Hi Mike, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I live in Los Angeles, CA. I’ve always had a love for photography since I can remember starting with the old Polaroids and dad cams. Since high school, I wanted to get a DSLR camera and really get into photography. I ended up buying a Nikon D3400 for like $300 at Costco and started shooting my friend’s band’s live shows.

One night we were at the Catalyst is Santa Cruz, CA, which is a venue the size of a closet, and as the last band was getting ready to perform I thought “This thing does video too, right?”. It did, and I managed to get on stage next to the drummer where I filmed some pretty cool stuff. That night I instantly fell in love with video.

Fast forward a few years and hundreds of solo projects later, I bought a ticket to a Matt Alonzo workshop in LA back in 2019 where I met Cassius. Meeting him was a blessing because we both share similar goals and work really well with each other.

In November of 2021, we moved to LA and started The Cinema Junkies, Through the journey, we realized that we love specialized setups, skilled teamwork, and efficiency. There are a lot of custom mods and components in our workflow that allows for a smooth process.

At the core, The Cinema Junkies is a highly skilled camera team, but beyond that, we are a community of humans that love film and love the creative process! We currently run a discord community including educational content, networking opportunities, and just a place to chill.

As we grow, we look forward to finding fellow Junkies that are the ones defining the future of film.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It definitely has not been a smooth road, but I think we would struggle to find someone in this industry that hasn’t had a few bumps along the road. This lifestyle has some of the most draining and fulfilling moments that I have ever experienced.

We work with complex gear that requires many hours of mastering and we also pride ourselves on efficiency and workflow. In order for that to work properly, we have also spent countless hours figuring out mods and customizations that will deliver an amazing result!

Lastly, it has been a bit of a struggle finding people that are the right fit. This has somewhat to do with skill set and experience, but to be honest, it has mostly to do with if the individual has the passion for team-oriented niche workflows. I understand it is expensive to live in LA and we have to pay our bills whether that is a solo shooter gig or a full-scale production, but we all operate differently too! Cassius and I love team-based operations, almost like a Championship Sports Team or a military unit. Zach has been an amazing addition and we have a handful of others that we have grown close to which really excites me for the rest of the year and beyond.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I don’t really think of it from the angle of what I do, rather what we do. The Junkies is our baby and we truly love being able to put the camera in every position you can think of. I feel like a kid again when we are flying down a scenic road and I am controlling the remote operations of the camera, or when we throw on the goggles and get completely immersed in the FPV world.

We specialize in the specialty setups such as the car rigs, the heavy-lift drones, indoor/outdoor crane operations, low-angle RC Car movements, and the list goes on. If we need to throw the camera on some sticks or a shoulder rig we are well versed in that too.

I am most proud of every single person in the crew for having the passion and dedication to be a part of something like this, Everything we do cannot be done by one person, or even a couple, so having amazing people be a part of The Cinema Junkies has been such a blessing.

Efficiency, Quality, and Specialty Setups is what sets us apart from the rest. With the passion and creativity to boost it, we have something special going on.

What matters most to you? Why?
What matters most to me? Safety. Making sure everyone goes home safe at the end of the day is huge. The equipment we work with are not toys and it’s not a joke so that is always at the forefront of my mind.

Not far behind that is happiness. Happiness for our crew, myself, our clients, because if you’re not happy why the hell are you living this crazy life? Making sure everyone is taken care of is huge.

I’d also add that legacy matters. We are all artists whether we are crew or cast, camera or lighting, pre-production or post. At the end of the day, we want to create amazing art and be remembered for it. We value giving back and helping the next generation rise up which is why we hold workshops and have plans to help the up-and-coming filmmakers even more!

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