Member of the week: Cybel Martin, cinematographer

Sep 12, 2007

This week we're featuring Freelancers Union member Cybel Martin, a cinematographer working in New York and L.A. (We suspect bicoastalism is particularly prevalent among freelancers, but don't yet have the empirical data to back that up.) She films commercials, documentaries, and even feature films. But that's not all! Cybel is an oil painter, too. You can even see her paintings at Of course, she has a website for her cinematography work, as well: Magic Eye Film. Learn more about Cybel in her Yellow Pages profile and in the interview below.

Cybel Martin

What has been your most interesting project? I don't have one that is more interesting than the rest. It's that whole "each one of my films is like one of my children", each interesting and dear to my heart for a different reason. Certainly the projects that I enjoy the most either involve international travel, as in when I taught Cinematography in Nigeria, or when considerable time and thought is paid to the visual style of a film and I get to collaborate with an excellent team, as in the film "The Gilded Six Bits". Why did you decide to go freelance? With the exception of a three month stint working for a boutique advertising agency, I have always been freelance. It's the normal route for a Cinematographer. What tip would you give to a new freelancer or someone who is considering going freelance? I would definitely say that a freelancer should never be exclusively service oriented. In other words, always have a tangible product to sell as well. If you are a massage therapist, make your own soaps and oils. It comes down to ways to make money when you don't want to get out of bed. And ways for people to give you money who aren't necessarily interested in your service. I think it is better if the product you sell is related to your service (a photographer sells photos etc), but its not necessary. For example, although my primary love is Cinematography, I have always painted on the side. About six years ago, I began to actively promote and sell my paintings and that has proven an invaluable way to stay creative and increase my income. What is your favorite spot in the city in which you live? This is another question like the above...I live in New York City and view it like a member of the family. There is so much to love about living here and so many nooks and crannies, I would have no idea where to begin. I don't have one favorite spot here but I do have a favorite time of the year. When Spring first hits New York, you will never experience such a delicious mix of creativity, power, gaiety, assertiveness and compassion. What is your inspiration? I am inspired by the beauty and magic inherent in all things. Every circumstance, character (both fictional and real), lighting set up or lens choice has the capacity to transport us above the mundane. I am very lucky. My job as a Director of Photography is to be inspired and utilize art, science and philosophy to communicate this sense of lyricism and wonder to my audience.