Picture shot by: Anya Hankerson-woods (Left), Olivia Aquilina. (Right)
As a multi-talented filmmaker and crew member, it will come as no surprise to see Kemi as the Cinematographer on set for day one, and the next day she is pulling focus as the 1st AC. You will also catch her creating dynamic lighting diagrams as a DP or Gaffer. She truly does it all. Our February Artist Spotlight is a personal friend, family, and freelancer for Camera Ambassador, Kemi Mayomi. Kemi is known in Chicago’s indie film scene for her creative flexibility and talented eye.
“Legacy? I'm just trying to make cool videos that I can be proud of. I don't really care if half of my work ever sees the light of day, to be honest [...]”
When discussing Kemi's inspirations she says, "I'm inspired by practical situations and challenges. I've designed elaborate video shoots and camera tests based off of typical inconveniences that I've experienced while working on separate shoots.” For insistence, she mentions, “Once I was asked to film a short scene, but the budget didn't allow for much lighting equipment. I designed the scene that was lit with only two Tungsten heads and didn't utilize any rigging equipment for shaping the lights. I wanted to see if I could acquire a well-balanced image that served the story while also working with limited resources." Kemi likes to use her technical know-how and resources to best serve the project. Creativity is about figuring out how to problem solve effectively, for that situation. It’s not about the long itemized list of things you CAN’T do, it’s about what you CAN create from that same list. This also comes into play with Kemi’s favorite part of her creative process. Troubleshooting. “Every project I work on has some type of (predicted or unforeseen) obstacle that I must overcome or solve for. I love the moment when a plan I've implemented to combat the obstacle works out or when I'm able to find a solid workaround for the potentially crippling problem.”
Photo by: Anya Hankerson-Woods
“I like to believe that people see me as their personal cheerleader. I love when people have the courage and confidence to try new things or techniques that will enhance the craft/work or whatever endeavor they hope to achieve. I just want people to feel supported in their goals.”
When talking and expanding on creative blocks, “I reflect on the source of lack of creativity. I believe creativity is based on experiences. If I'm having a block, it usually means that I have fallen into a routine of generating the same experience over and over again. I try to put myself in a new situation or try something new so that I have the opportunity to do or learn something thus gaining a variety of experiences to later influence my work.”
Photo by: Greg Stephen Reigh
When reflecting on the most memorable response she had as a reaction to her work, it came from a professor she had in college. For a school project, Kemi had to create a short film based off of a simple interaction between two people. “It seems to be a relatively easy project” she mentions, “but I struggled to find a consistent crew to help me film. I had actors bail on me the day of the shoot and I had to use my siblings as the actors. The two other students who were supposed to help me run the camera and set up lights never showed up! It turned out to be a huge ordeal just to film a 3-minute scene.” With all the mishaps on her mind, she was a nervous wreck when it came time to present to the class. “After the presentation, my classmates gave such positive feedback and reactions, but all my professor said was, "not bad." There was no further discussion about my project and no negative comments. I don't know why, but this two word syllabic response, "not bad", nearly brought me to tears.”
Photo by: Calvin Patterson.
Wanna work with Kemi on your next set? Contact her at, firstname.lastname@example.org