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Notch Creator Spotlight: Brian Ceci

Our ‘Creator Spotlight’ series takes a closer look at some of the talented members of The Notch Community, featuring one-on-one conversations between our Community Manager and creators. Read on to learn more about the person behind the camera.

Brian Ceci, Cinematographer + Photographer, Vancouver

Steph Gilman, Community Manager: How did you start out in your field? What attracted you to cinematography?

Brian Ceci: I kind of got romanticized by it in Australia actually. I was there for a year on a working visa and I specifically remember moments of my trip that should’ve been documented. So, I did a bit of research on some schools that do it and applied to Capilano College and got into their film program.

Nice! Were you hooked instantly?

Definitely! I’ve always been a movie buff, but more in a visual sense now that I think about it. I’ve always admired Adrian Biddle, Roger Deakins, Robert Richardson’s work.

On that note, can’t help but ask… what’s your favourite movie?

My favourite movie I think is Se7en. If you’re watching it for the first time, it’s one of those thrillers that really keeps you guessing throughout the whole movie. The ending is insane.

Yes, I remember! Although I feel like it’s been long enough that I’m probably due for a re-watch. Wonder how it holds up once you know what’s coming.

Well, I think that when you’re re-watching it again, you can see where the film actually is quite clever throughout. There’s tons of small hints and nuances of who the killer is, but they’re so subtle that you wouldn’t necessarily pick up on them unless you know the way it ends.

Definitely. Ok, adding it to my very long list. So it seems you love movies. Now tell me something about yourself that most people don’t know about you. 

That’s a tough question.

Your deepest darkest secret!

That could constitute as blackmail.

Ooh. Maybe that will be part 2 of this series. The blackmail edition.

Some people know this, but I am a huge travel freak. I love to explore this giant world we live in.

I definitely get a sense of that from your point of view in your work. Where’s the most interesting place you’ve been to?

By far, the most interesting place I’ve been is South Sudan.

What were you doing over there?

I’ve been four times with an NGO that drills water wells for the people of South Sudan. I’ve been there for some pretty pivotal events in their short history – during the first few months of their independence in 2011, and I also was there during their civil war outbreak in Juba in 2013.

Wow – talk about some life-changing experiences.

Definitely. It’s a very troubled place, but there’s a lot of hope there too.

If you weren’t doing this for a living, what else would you be doing?

Photojournalism. I also think something gritty like Human’s Rights Watch would be amazing/awful at the same time.

Not such a far stretch from what you’re already doing! Seems like you know what your passions are.

[Laughs.] Zeroed right in there.

What’s your favourite thing about what you do?

There’s a ton of things I love. It depends on what I’m shooting, mostly, but when I’m shooting documentary I love capturing small details that are happening that set the tone for the scene. I absolutely love being put in places where the light is different from what you’re used to. I’ve got a project coming up in Greenland in June, and the thing I’m looking forward to the most is that the sun never sets in the northern parts of the country during the summer. It’s magic hour(s) all day up there.

That sounds amazing. Although maybe not so much for sleeping.

Yeah that’s going to be tough.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in your field?

I have a few things:

1. Never stop learning. Constantly research, change and manipulate your craft. Watch other people’s work. Come up with new ideas. Recreate other people’s ideas. Jump on any chance to get a mentor, or mentor another.
2. This one is controversial. The internet constantly blows up about doing work for free. Although most of the time it is not worth doing, there have been several points in my career where doing free work has escalated into adventures or things you can’t possibly get into without doing that in the first place. I’d say that IF you’re going to do work for free, predict the route that it’ll lead, and take risks accordingly. You never know where it’ll take you.
3. Be a good person. Lose your ego. Let it go, and you’ll find yourself with like-minded people who you really appreciate and love to work with.

That’s some sage wisdom right there!


Ok one more question. What inspires you?

Another tough one. You’re killing me here, Gilman.

I’m like Dianne Sawyer!

I get inspired by a ton of things. Amazing work online, people watching on the street, my co-workers, my parents. Everyone inspires me at different times. Sometimes I’m uninspired too, and it takes one small moment to change that.

To browse our creators and see more of their work, check out our website. Want to create a video using the talent found in our community? Send us an email and let’s chat about how we can work together.

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