We had the good fortune of connecting with C.T. Robert and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi C.T., what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
I’ve thought about this time and time again and I’ve realized it’s only a couple few things that truly contribute to my happiness. The first of which is autonomy. It’s why I struggle in 9-5 work situations, it’s why I struggle oftentimes in romantic relationships… it’s the freedom for me to have the space to wander and explore anything that piques my interest. I guess it’s essentially the sort of constant search for new experiences and learning about new things. This is what fuels me in life I think and when I feel the most at peace. In addition to this, I’ve realized the happiness of my friends and family ranks high on the list. I’m the type of person who is very low maintenance in my needs as far as relationships go, but I find I’m over-willing to try and accommodate the needs of my loved ones when they need it. Something about being able to be the answer to someone else’s problems really fills me up.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Truth be told, I don’t think there’s much that sets me apart from others because all of the things I value the most about my approach is rooted in things I’ve seen others. I think what’s most unique about me is the way in which I weave all of these tools together. When I began my filmmaking journey I used it as a way to collaborate with my friends with their music ambitions. Shooting music videos with my handy Nikon D3000 was all I needed for the world to open up for me.

At the time filmmaking was still a hidden passion and I didn’t think much of it outside of a way to express myself; but as I grew older and the looming adult years approached I started to consider what a job in the real world might look like with a camera in my hand. This is how I landed on following my journalistic ambitions. In my eyes, it was a gateway to me having a “real” job while still affording myself the opportunity to keep a camera close by. Through college I studied photojournalism at UNC, learning quickly how to approach storytelling with an objective eye. Telling stories with intention was forever imprinted upon me, and it’s something I still carry to this day.

Upon graduation I started down that path, working at places like the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications before eventually landing at NPR as a part of their video team that specialized in music content. It’s here where my early interest in music videos came quickly into favor, as I began combining both my journalistic approach to storytelling from my schools days with the expressive sensibilities that I picked up in my early days of exploring the medium. The guidance from Mito, my boss at NPR and someone I consider a mentor, pushed me to not limit myself creatively and bring my creative spirit to the more structured and objective approach of storytelling I had been taught in my college years.

As my creative mind began to open up I began to experiment more and more and I kept feeling myself pulled into a world that favored less objective storytelling into one that was more boundless and free. After about two years I then found myself at a new job working at Vevo under the direction of another person I consider a mentor, Joseph Patel. Whereas NPR pushed me to practice my creativity more openly, my time at Vevo provided me the opportunity to put these practices to use with resources I never had access to before. I never went to film school, and since my background was in journalism the types of equipment I was given access to was often limited. Here at Vevo I immediately had access to a studio space that was open to me 24/7 with lights, professional cameras, and the space to bring whatever came to mind to life. I recognize now how rare an opportunity this was, and the fact Joseph encouraged me to utilize these tools and make the most of my time is something I’m forever indebted to him about. In addition to this, he enforced a sense of always doing things with a purpose that a lot of people don’t always abide by when moving into more commercial spaces.

My time at Vevo ended in 2018 and it was the last 9-5 job I ever had. Ever since then I’ve been freelancing full time and I don’t see myself ever going back to that world. While the journey up until this point has definitely been hard, the autonomy I’ve achieved as a result has made it all worth it. I spent a lot of nights in the studio, a lot of early mornings sending emails, and have faced a lot of setbacks on my path, but it was all in service to a singular goal.

My days of being a journalist through college and shortly after left me with an approach to storytelling that always attempts to be honest; my days under the guidance of Mito pushed me in a direction to bend the rules of what a storyteller in that space looks like, and my time working for Joseph trained me to understand fully the tools that I had at my disposal so I could have full creative autonomy and understand how to harness them to tell stories in the most effective way possible. If anything, this is what sets me apart. The mastery of both my creative mind and the fundamental tools of filmmaking (ie. lighting, sound design, editing, etc.) while always being backed by an intentional spirit.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Truth be told I’m not the best person to answer this as I’m fairly new to LA. I’m still figuring this out myself honestly haha. One place that was extremely memorable for me was Point Dume though which sits about an hour outside of LA. It’s a somewhat discreet beach and it has an amazing view of the Pacific that you won’t ever forget.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
These sorts of things always inspire a bit of anxiety within me because I’m truly the result of the hardwork of those that came before me and of those who saw something inside of me along the way. Whether that’s the values instilled in me from my parents Valerie and Curtis, my ability to face problems headstrong from my Aunt Jennifer, the need to question things always from my Grandmother (RIP) and teachers from my grade school days at GDS, the artistic integrity I gained from watching my mentor Joseph Patel, or the confidence in my work that I got from Mito Habe-Evans. The list really goes on and on. I wouldn’t be here without my friends or family who first let me hone in on my craft back when I was a kid; those like Malik Seck, my cousin Osaze or Miles Jackson. I wouldn’t be here without people like Pegah Farahmand seeing something in me when I barely saw something in myself as a director, or without friends like Saba who saw me for the creative, I aspire to be before I’d done anything that was reminiscent of said work. Again.. the list goes on… Jim Czarnecki, Judy Walgren, Jessey Dearing… it continues on and on… I’m only here because of the Tomas Whitmore’s and Vertel Scott’s of the world. It’s not lost on me that I’m leaving out names and I’m mad at myself for leaving them out, but for the sake of keeping things concise, I’ll end it here.

Website: www.camrobert.com

Instagram: @cont4ct

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