That is what the well-known film director and cinematographer, Joseph Mbah revealed in an interview during the release of his exceptionally directed film, EXPO. Directed by Joseph Mbah himself and produced by Amber Thompson and Nick LaRovere, EXPO is an action-thriller, a tribute to the action movie classics of the ‘80s.
Before EXPO took the movie world by a storm, Joseph Mbah built a reputation for himself in the horror genre. However famous the talented superstar is known for his unique and outstanding films, very little is known about how Joseph Mbah struggled and paved his way to success.
“It’s definitely been a very slow process. I know if I stayed in California and been in LA I think it would have been faster, but I actually did prefer it this way because it wasn’t like beating me on the head, it would give me time to really figure out what it is I’m trying to pursue.”
Joseph Mbah was born on October 12, 1990, in Nigeria. Still pretty young, he moved with his family to the US, where he studied at the Cathedral City High School. With the help of his English teacher, who encouraged the students to create projects, Joseph Mbah designed an assignment that pushed him past his limits, but he loved every moment.
During that time, the director’s brother was an actor as well, and he brought home lots of scripts for rehearsing his role in different film projects. Paired with the interest in creating and the scripts that were read more by Joseph than his brother, he fell in love with filmmaking during his senior year in high school.
But, the director had other plans too. Enrolled in the AFJROTC during high school, the young boy decided on joining the Air Force once he finished his ROTC in college. But of course, he needed a little help, and that he got! From his mother, who said, “You really need to rethink; I don’t really see it this way. I see you doing something that comes more natural to you.”
Clinging on to his mother’s words, Joseph Mbah was forced to think about his dreams. “I’m just going to make a short film for this project; then, if it goes well, I bet this is what I’m going to do.” So, he decided to make a short film as part of his English senior year project.
Joseph Mbah spent a whole lot of time writing his first script, and after he had finished, he borrowed his friend’s dad’s camera and ran outside to shoot the script. Realizing how much he loved just doing the project, he took the decision to pursue a career in filmmaking, even if he never got paid for it.
After he graduated high school, Joseph told his mother, “Okay, I wanna go to college for real. I want to actually learn what this filmmaking thing is.” A resident at Cathedral City, Joseph Mbah, conducted a search for finding an affordable college that was offering a filmmaking course, and he found Paradise Valley Community College in Arizona. While enrolled in the program, he spent a lot of time going out working for people to gain experience from shooting different projects.
Deciding to stay in Arizona even after he graduated, Joseph began shooting videos and putting them on YouTube alongside doing little after effects projects and short films. But that was short-lived since he couldn’t find high-end and consistent projects.
So Joseph Mbah then took a leap and began working in the IT and call center world. Still, he didn’t let his passion die, and he wrote scripts and shot films side by side.
Eventually, he began reaching out to local artists who were looking to shoot music videos, shooting their music videos for free. After which, he began his “$50 music videos”, where he would call out to people saying, “Hey, everybody needs a video these days, just come out, and we’ll figure it out. All it will cost you is $50, I know your struggle with money, it doesn’t matter.”
With this, his skills were polished, and his experience was brightened. And pretty soon, he got landed with his first cinematographer gig on the feature film Krampus: The Reckoning. In 2014, Joseph got a gig as a camera operator on a traveling reality TV show, the first-ever gig that offered decent money.
Hard work and dedication gave Joseph the idea of directing Genesis: Fall of the Crime Empire with Nick LaRovere in 2015, which was followed by two short films and the horror film, Krampus Origins starring Maria Olsen.
That is how Joseph became able to shoot EXPO, last year, a movie about an ex-military guy who had troubles in the past with the law and is trying to get his life together.
“Growing up, I watched movies starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jackie Chan. But the one movie that made me realize what a movie is and how it can make a person feel was Christopher Nolan’s, Dark Knight. I understood the power of the camera through Dark Knight.” –Joseph Mbah