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Life & Work with Justin Knodel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin Knodel.

Hi Justin, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I’ve always loved the movies and knew I wanted to be a part of them since I was three years old. However, the journey from being a kid from Colorado with an imagination to actually being in the industry was anyone’s guess. I suppose I could have put on a tuxedo for interviews with a resume comprised of my top 50 films and in skillset listed fluent in Ferris Bueller-isms, but I don’t know how far that would have gotten me. Like everyone in this business knows, you have to cut your own trail with no clear path to follow. The earliest I can remember becoming aware of cinematography without quite knowing what it was, was when my dad took me to see David Fincher’s Alien 3 when I was about 9 or 10 years old. Beyond seeing a facehugger for the first time in my life and watching SIgourney Weaver throw herself into a pool of lava with an Alien bursting out of her chest leaving me catatonic for days, I do remember thinking to myself there was something special about the way that movie was shot.

From that time, I became a complete cinephile absorbing any film I could get my hands on. Highlighting everything I needed to watch for the week in the Sunday TV guide to being a permanent fixture at the local Blockbuster and making so many silly films with my friends or whoever I could coherse into participating with me. Around 2010 I went to the Art Institute of Colorado where I received a BFA in Digital Filmmaking and Video Production where I learned all the different parts of filmmaking from directing to production to editing. During this time, it became very obvious to me that cinematography was the part of filmmaking that fascinated me most and what I would obsess over. In 2012, I went to New York Film Academy in Los Angeles and received an MFA in Cinematography in 2014. From that point, I hustled every day doing as many projects as I could manage with each year being better than the previous.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I wouldn’t say it’s been a smooth road, but I would say the struggles are what make the moments where you feel you are doing something special all the more special in real-time and so very appreciative of the journey you’ve had to get there. It’s in the struggle that you will find your voice.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a Cinematographer for narrative stories, commercials, music videos and documentaries. What sets me apart from others is how diverse my work is and the ability to adopt a different shooting style or lighting style to meet the demands of the director’s vision. Also, my improvisational abilities to adapt to a situation and freestyle if that is what is being asked of me.

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
Keep working. Don’t stop. Go back to the days when you just made movies with your friends because it was fun. Do that. Remember what brought you here.

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