We had the good fortune of connecting with Martin Mamangun and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Martin, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I believe risk is a key aspect of navigating through life. It’s not only necessary for growth, but it’s also natural in the sense that risks need to be taken just as decisions, actions, and sacrifices all need to be made daily. Undoubtedly, taking risks can be scary whether there is much thought and calculation to it or you don’t think about it and you just do it. I tend to go about it both ways given that I’m constantly trying to be one step ahead, but also the fact that I can be very “down” and impulsive. Regardless, I trust my intuition and those gut feelings when it comes to being a risk taker. At the end of the day you never know how it’ll pan out until you try it. I never want to have regrets or hang my head over the hypotheticals of “what if” and “what could have been,” but instead I’ll choose to look back at those instances where I took a leap of faith and no matter the outcome, I can say with confidence that at least I tried and took something out of it.
With that being said, I always try to take away from my everyday life and all of my daily interactions; essentially I view my life and career as one to which risks have played and continue to play a pivotal role in. Growing up, I was a very shy and introverted kid mainly due to the environment I was brought up in. I was this Filipino boy being raised in the suburbs – trying to assimilate to certain standards and the status quo. As a result, I was conditioned to play it safe and all I had known at a young age was to always do things the conventional way. Risk comes into the picture as I took it upon myself to break out of my shell in my adolescence, just as I was entering high school. I was coming in out of district and I basically knew no one, and so I seized the opportunity to put myself out there and take more risks. I used to think I was reinventing my character, but it was more so that I finally felt comfortable to be myself as I was surrounded with like-minded people, many of whom are still a part of my life to this day. Amongst that, I found my love and passion in creating and making art through various mediums – most notably in film, photography, and dance. I probably would not have experienced all of this unless I took these necessary risks and steps in forging my path. Then, my most significant risk and challenge came in college. After my first year of undergrad as a Biology major (again I reverted back to going down the safe, practical road), I switched my major to Media and Cultural Studies and I can testify that this had been the greatest decision I have ever made for myself. Was it scary to do this? 100%. I’d hear how difficult it’d be to make a career out of it, specifically in the arts and entertainment and creative industry. Have there been ups and downs for me since then? Most definitely. But, despite all of the outside noise and circumstances, I embarked on this route towards becoming a director because it is genuinely what I found my purpose to be: creating and making something meaningful and if that elicits a response, good or bad, then I know I’m doing it right. By the time that this is published, I will be a couple months removed from moving on from my part-time job and going full-time freelance. I’m very nervous in all honesty, but also super excited with where this transition takes me. Ultimately, risk has been vital for me as an individual, and as an artist and creative as it’s opened up countless possibilities that have led to life long relationships and lessons, and have brought me in the position I am in today and to exactly where I need to be.
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.
As a visual artist and aspiring director, my art is centered on telling meaningful stories within a diverse space and intersectional lens. My focus and specialization is in narrative filmmaking and film and analog photography, but I’ve also stepped into the realms of commercial and event marketing and branding, music videos and artist relations, streetwear fashion, production design, graphic design, and even a sprinkle of performing, modeling, and acting. Over the course of the past 8 years, I learned many of the ins and outs of producing stills and moving images, constructing storyboards and sets, executing on camera or on stage, and interpreting and analyzing deeper messages. I believe my style incorporates a blend of structured techniques, both old and new, and a think outside the box mindset. For example, my methods of utilizing 35mm and 120 film photography and Super 8 film and Hi8 video into my frames and edits along with the modern practices of shooting digital are a reflection of my style. Overall, I love capturing people and things in the moment; having them exist in their natural presence and really owning the spaces in which they occupy. No matter the medium I tackle or the role that I play, I will always be proud of anything that I put out for the reason that the job gets finished. The feeling of wrapping up a production and sharing it with the world is truly indescribable, especially when it involves such an amazing group of talented individuals. From shooting concerts in the pit and documenting live events to producing visuals and passion projects with the homies and fellow creatives and brands to getting more experience on bigger scale sets in the industry, I’ve been extremely grateful for every single opportunity. And regardless of the outcome being a success or failure from the desired expectation, it is always a win and one for the books because I gained something out of it and learned something new, then go on to ensure that it marinates in my mind for me to apply it to the next venture and my every day. Creating full time is what my life revolves around and I hope to break boundaries and experiment with my eye more while simultaneously sticking to the fundamentals and the roots of the pioneers that came before me. I know there is much more work to be done, but I’ll be sure to celebrate and soak in each moment.
The road to now was not an easy one by far. Something I’ve learned along the way is that everyone’s path is not linear and it is not marked simply from point A to point B. We all operate on our own chart and timeline. My journey has been full of progressing upwards, but also falling back downwards and spiraling all over due to a number of factors that included struggles with self-love, confidence, and mental health. I had my battles with anxiety and depression, and I used to think everything was against me. Once I realized that my life and happiness is mine alone to create, I found love for myself and the strength to move forward. These obstacles molded and shaped me to appreciate what I have and what I can control and taught me to not be so hard on myself. I owe all of that not only to my growth from within, but also to all the people in my life that have supported and guided me and always kept it real. Challenges and tests still arise, and that’s just the way it goes as I am constantly evolving and cultivating my purpose. The most important lessons I carry with me are: be nice and maintain your moral fiber, know that your past does not define you, pay it forward, stay genuine and true to yourself, embrace your inner child, protect and value your peace, feed and rest your mind, body, and soul, be patient and trust the process, have a strong support system and healthy balance and lifestyle, plan ahead and be prepared for anything, put in the effort and energy, pace yourself because it’s a marathon not a sprint, remember to have fun and enjoy the ride, and always thank God for the day. With all that being said, I want the world to know my perspective and experience and to be able to feel something from my art. That is the beauty of art; it’s all subjective and we all interpret each other’s canvases through our own lenses. To know that I made something that resonated with someone and made an effect in some type of manner – that is the goal.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Having grown up an Orange County native, attended college in the Inland Empire, and currently finding myself working throughout Los Angeles, there is an endless list of places and things to see and experience that comes to mind. Let’s say we can only fit as much as we can in one day because the world is ending tomorrow. To get the ball rolling, I would take us to Blue Bowls at The Hangar in Long Beach, where we’d build our own customizable açaí bowls. My order will always include their signature blue chia pudding topped off with pretty much their whole variety of fruits, granola, and butters. Assuming it’s a Sunday, either or possibly both Melrose Trading Post and Rose Bowl Flea Market (every 2nd Sunday of the month) would be next on the itinerary. There is nothing I enjoy more than thrifting gems at a solid price and supporting local businesses. This perfect day also has to have the perfect weather – a nice 75 degrees with blue skies, and equal sunlight and clouds – so you already know that I’ll be driving us down Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Laguna Beach to hit Shaw’s Cove and relax by the shore and bask in the sunset. Dinner plans would be set for either the Tonkotsu ramen with pork chashu from Kopan Ramen in the OC, tacos al pastor from Leo’s Taco Truck or the Braindead burger from Burgerlords (vegan), both in LA. Pre-pandemic, I would definitely end the night with a show or concert at the Echoplex. Really looking forward to everything opening up soon, but for now this is your reminder to wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart, and get vaccinated!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First, I have to give all praise and glory to God. I would not be where I am today without my faith and everything that God has blessed me with. Next, of course, is a shoutout to my parents – my mom and dad – for raising me to be the young man I am today, instilling my core values, and supporting me throughout my endeavors no matter what. Thank you to my older brother, Matt Brian, for always having my back through thick and thin. I also can’t forget to include Milo, our shih tzu, who never fails to brighten up my days with his companionship. My family has truly been the rock that has kept me grounded. From there, I want to affirm and recognize all of these individuals and fellow artists and creatives who have impacted my life to a substantial degree and continue to inspire me: Andrew Goldner, Joshua Malilay, Noah Namgoong, Chris Moon, A.J. Lising, Erik Luminarias, Hegi Ombina, Martin San Juan, Matt Mirasol, Joseph Tejano, Sabrina Dagoc, Roy Rutto, and Kyle Lingad. And to those I haven’t mentioned, y’all know who you are and I appreciate you dearly. Lastly, shoutout to the Mamba Mentality; not a day goes by where I don’t think about Kobe Bean Bryant and the legacy he’s left on this world as I strive to honor him with a high attention to detail and dedication to my craft, and to remember to be better today than I was yesterday.
Martin Mamangun, A.J. Lising, Mikael Angelo