We had the good fortune of connecting with Colin C. K. Njemanze and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Colin C. K., why did you pursue a creative career?
As ridiculous and banal as it is, I didn’t choose a creative career, it chose me. I have always been interested in storytelling and visuals and characters’ journeys. Growing up, I noticed I cared a little more about the plots and character arcs in animated cartoons, books, and movies more than my friends did. I started connecting dots and understanding where characters needed to be and how the story would likely unfold. And took a real appreciation for movies’ special effects work, the behind-the-scenes documentaries and commentaries and DVD extras. When reading books in class, I couldn’t help but visualize what was going on in the stories. I mean, really strong visual interpretations. For the longest I thought I would be a writer. I thought I would write books. But sometime in middle school, I realized that wasn’t the medium for me. I’m a visual person. I grew up watching movies – some of which I probably shouldn’t have been watching at my age. I’m a huge pop culture fanatic and movie lover, so pursuing a creative career was a very natural decision for me. Being a filmmaker is visual storytelling.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Being a filmmaker, a visual storyteller, or whatever it is you want to call this thing I do has not been easy. But it shouldn’t be. It should be hard, I think. If you care about it enough, it’ll be hard. But there’s joy in the challenge. That’s why you do it. If it were easy, I’m not sure how fulfilling it would be. I try to be a filmmaker that challenges himself. Every production I’ve done is different from the last. I’m at a stage right now in my career – specifically, in regards to music videos – where I’m trying everything and making sure I’m challenging myself at doing it. No two music videos are the same. I really want to do something drastically different every time I approach it. I’m most proud of the work I’ve done with Houston’s Tia’ Gold. We’ve done a number of music videos for her that I’m incredibly proud of, but I’m most proud of the last two music videos I’ve directed for her – ‘Answer’ and ‘Cry on Me’. I truly believe that those two music videos are the culmination of the work the two of us have done over the years. And I look forward to working with other artists and challenging myself all over again.
Hopefully, very soon, I’ll get back to narrative work and making films again. The difficult thing is choosing which story to tell next. I’m learning it’s best not to get stuck in this analysis paralysis state and just do it. So, hopefully, there should be word on the next narrative I’ll be putting together. If there’s anything I want people to know about me it’s that – I respect filmmaking. I respect the art, I respect the business, I respect my colleagues and the process. I care about creating work that will last.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a simple man. Midtown, Eado, and the Heights is where I feel most comfortable if we’re talking about areas of the city to check out and visit. But those are the popular choices and everyone knows them. However, they’re popular for a reason. I can walk throughout Midtown all evening and constantly find something to do and people to meet. If you only have a week in Houston, those are the areas you should visit. But Houston has so much more than that. There are these lovely pockets of great communities and restaurants that you just have to get out there and find.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure of working with some outstanding creative individuals and technicians in the film industry. And where I am now is due to their contributions and their belief in my ability, because I assure you, it wasn’t because of monetary gain. I have my family to thank, for being patient and supportive of my pursuits. I have a very strong supportive group of friends as well, some who have appeared in my earliest works and some who even contributed financially. Fellow filmmakers who I’ve had the pleasure of working with include the Briones brothers – Orlando and Christian – who helped me in getting my first short film ‘A Promising Game’ shot back in 2014 and 2015. Rakesh Jacob, a very good friend of mine and talented filmmaker in his own right, who is forever encouraging and provides some of the best insight into some of my rough cuts. Thi Lam, who is a cinematographer I’ve been working with since 2017, has been an immense contributor to my music video work. He’s a real team player and just the guy you want in your corner when you’re tackling how to approach a music video or film. And, look, I have to mention my sister Zoe. She is amazing. She’s usually the first one to see a rough draft or hear my story pitches and give me the thumbs up or thumbs down. Most ideas I’ve had have probably been filtered through her first.
Duncan Johnson Ray Kuglar