We had the good fortune of connecting with Justin Crowe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Justin, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Even from a young age I have always felt a sense of fulfillment from being creative. Whether I was a kid building with Legos or a cinematographer shooting a commercial, any form of creative thinking gave me joy. I believe what it really boils down to is this sense of fulfillment from taking an idea in your head and seeing it come to life as something physical that you can share with others. I started shooting and developing 35mm film in high school and fell in love with capturing images. That quickly lead to me borrowing my parents video camera and I started learning to make short films. At the time had no idea I could make a career out of it, I just truly loved creating in that medium. Artistic and creative careers can be really tough. There’s no set hours and no guarantee you’ll find work. To be completely honest I didn’t know half of the challenges I would face taking a creative career path when I decided to pursue becoming a cinematographer, but ultimately it was that love and fulfillment from being creative that outweighed the challenges I’d face.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started working as a production assistant on various projects back in 2012, all the while filming weddings and small corporate projects on the side. I continued to learn from other cinematographers while ACing commercials and features. Now I’ve been lucky enough to travel across the country filming a wide range of projects. I believe one of my greatest strengths is my continued love for learning. The film industry is ever changing and you are consistently working with new people and new equipment, you have to be able to adapt. I keep an open mind and I’ll continue to learn how to be better at my job each and every day. It’s far from an easy road to become a cinematographer. I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished whilst also barely scratching the surface. Despite our current pandemic I’ve been lucky enough to stay busy and continue to make a living, which is more than I could ever ask for and I feel incredibly lucky as I know others have not been as fortunate.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When friends come to visit usually our first stop is straight to Tacos el Venado in NoHo. Their pastor is next level good and the line down the block speaks for itself. Then what better way to work off all those tacos then with a nice hike up to Wisdom Tree. If our guests for up for it we’ll continue our hike through to the Hollywood sign. A metro ride down to Grand Central Market is usually in order. With so many food options there is bound to be something for everyone. Then we usually continue on to Olvera st. for some cajeta filled churros from Mr. Churro. Hopefully our guests are in town during hockey season and we can head to Staples Center for a Kings Game. Go Kings Go! My wife and I enjoy the great outdoors, so visitors are usually in for multiple hikes. For a quick trip we will head out to Vasquez Rocks, but if we have the time we will make the drive to Joshua Tree National Park. Scrambling up all the crazy rock formations makes you feel like a kid in a jungle gym again. A trip up or down the cost is always in order. Santa Barbra is always a great place to visit. Breweries and beaches what more could you want. We usually stop in for a cold one at either Figueroa Mountain Brewing, or Lama Dog before hitting the beach. If we have extra time we like to side trip to Ojai to taste some olive oils and bring a bottle home from Ojai Olive Oil. Another great beach destination we like to bring guests to is Huntington Beach. Although we find the beaches to be more crowded here, we more specifically come for the acai at Banzai Bowls. If a giant serving of acai and a healthy dose of freshly cut fruit sounds good to you, then Banzai bowls is a must. By now our guests are probably rubbing their soar feet so we will take it easy with a scenic drive up to the Mount Wilson Observatory. You can hike to the top as well, but most guests probably aren’t looking for that extreme of a hike while on vacation. On your way back into town it’s worth a stop at Lincoln Beer company in Burbank. They have great beer, friendly service, and it’s usually not too busy even on a Friday. If you want to indulge in some dessert, my go to spot is Lilit Bakery Cafe. They have an amazing selection of cakes and pastries, all of which are delicious. My favorites are the Almond Roulette and the Opera. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. 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?
An artist is nothing without their family, friends, and coworkers who support them on their journey. I have been incredibly lucky with the amount of support and encouragement I have had over my career and continue to receive. First and foremost, my parents have been instrumental in my success. They gifted me my first video camera as a kid and countless other pieces of gear. Despite a brief initial push for me to become an orthodontist, my parents quickly understood my passion and drive to work in the film industry and continue to encourage me to this day. I feel so lucky to have had them in my corner, as I know that may not be the case for many artists pursuing their passions. I would be nowhere in my career if it wasn’t for my wife Sydney. Her unwavering support has been such a blessing during the many ups and downs that come with being self employed. I think we lean heaviest on those closest to us. Before we were married, she packed up and moved to Los Angeles with me so I could pursue being a cinematographer, almost single handedly taking on the brunt of the cost of living in California. Our studio apartment was now three times more expensive and three times smaller than our previous place. She worked incredibly hard to keep us afloat as I began my journey up the film industry ladder. There were many days, weeks, and even months where work seemingly dried up for me, but she never stopped encouraging me to continue to fallow my passions. Without her I’d be in a much different place and I’m so thankful for her. I also owe gratitude to anyone who’s ever hired me, or recommended me to be hired. Artists rely heavily on connections and word of mouth for work. In the film industry it’s rare to get a cold call for a job. Your hired by someone you know, or someone who knows someone you know. So I’d love to shoutout anyone who’s passed my name along or given me a chance based on a recommendation. I’ve slowly grown my network and I’m so appreciative of all those people who took a chance on me.