An in depth interview with our videographer Matt Engelking
This week we had the privilege of interviewing Matt Engelking on the Art of Storytelling. Matt not only captures all of our stories for We Are Unveiled, but also works full time for Right Now Media where he has worked directly with a variety of people, including Francis Chan and Jen Hatmaker to capture stories.
Matt truly has a gift and a passion in video and aspires to use this gift by developing a mentorship business through his trade. In every story he captures, he hopes to equip and train a new generation to do the same.
WAU: Matt, we know you have a heart and true passion for storytelling. What we have seen working with you is that videography almost comes second to that passion, which has been amazing to watch. So tell us, why is storytelling so important to you?
I've always been fascinated with people and adventure. In a roundabout way, that's what got me into portrait photography years ago and what ultimately got me into filming stories. Everyone has a unique journey to which they've been called, and it's a beautiful and humbling thing to join them in that adventure and share their story from an artist's perspective. If we're image-bearers of a creative God, and if He's written the greatest story of redeeming humanity through His son, and if we all somehow get to play a part in that, then what a privilege and what a joy it is to tell an individual's story and help point us all to something so much greater than ourselves.
WAU: That’s so good and true. It’s so easy for us to forget about the correlation we have as image-bearers of God, joining in the redemptive story. As you capture stories in light of God’s image, how do you prepare to authentically capture a story and make it personal?
Actually, I just read an article last week by one of my heroes Ryan Booth that really resonated with this. He said, "The stories we're supposed to tell are already out there, waiting to be found." I find myself at times wanting to put my own words/vision/ideas in the mouth of the storyteller, and I'm really just learning to sit back and listen before I ever put the pen to paper. I'd say 90% of the work is done well before the camera is ever fired up. It's the questions, conversations, coffees, and hours of brainstorming that really make the biggest difference. I'll be honest, not every shoot is as planned out as I'd like, but I try to make every effort I can to get to know the subject well... And I really like coffee, so it's a win/win.
WAU: That’s so eye opening. So if knowing the subject is so important to you, then how do you choose a location for your shoots?
Well when I first started (doing video), I remember how wrapped up I was in getting the coolest shot I could imagine. I'd search for hours scouting locations and trying to find something unique and edgy, and that might work well for Instagram photography, but when you do genuine portrait work and more authentic storytelling, I feel like it has to go deeper. The strongest pieces I've ever seen weren't shot at the seven wonders. They were shot in locations that had some type of humble significance in the life of the subject - the attic of an old barn, the driver's seat of their beat up car, inside their favorite coffee shop - and you don't find out those things until you start asking good questions.
I was planning a recent shoot with a good friend, and I asked her about some of her favorite childhood memories, and she began to tell me stories of this old cabin in Colorado that she and her family frequented when she was a kid. We started brainstorming and ended up putting a team together to go shoot her entire piece near this cabin in Colorado. Literally no one else will know the significance of that (those comments don't even end up in the dialogue of her story), but it added a depth and meaning to her and really allowed the team to connect on a different level. So I think finding the right location has way more to do with digging deep and asking the right questions than it does scouting cool locations. Save those for your Instagram feed.
WAU: Wow we love it. People are craving authenticity but you’re right, those seven wonder photos don’t always tell an authentic story, it's definitely those personal captures that the world can connect to on a deeper level. Well our time is coming to an end and we could ask you 100 more questions, but we will leave it at this.
What do you identify as a win in story telling?
I'm always my biggest critic and probably don't focus on this question enough to be completely honest. When it's all said and done, if i've truly given my heart and soul to my work and captured something real, something that encourages or challenges or deeply moves the viewer, I'd consider that a win. It's not nailing a shot. It's not an incredible location. It's not the perfect light. Those things are great and praise God when they occur, but my goal is really for my work to reflect the great God that we serve and the life, the joy, the struggles, and the beauty that's found in that. For me, if I can do that, that’s always a win.
To see more of Matt's work check him out here.