“EXPO” is the latest film by independent screenwriter, filmmaker and cinematographer Joseph Mbah realised he wanted to be a filmmaker when, at the encouragement of his mother, he decided to write and direct a short film. Years later, he’s one of the busiest movie-makers in town, serving as DP, writer and director on numerous projects – including the new action-thriller “Expo.”
Filmmaker Joseph Mbah recently granted an exclusive interview where he discussed the movie and more.
Meagan Meehan (MM): Tell us about your beginnings, Joseph – where did this all start for you?
Joseph Mbah (JM): It all started senior year of high school. we were working on a project about point of view and my English teacher wanted us to get creative with how we submit our presentation. This also happens to be a time when you are being told to make a decision regarding what you want to do for the rest of your life. Up to that point I was set on going into the Air Force as a pilot, so I was going to go to college and continue ROTC. One day my mom pulled me aside and told me to rethink my decision, because she does not really see me in the military. She told me to look within and find something that comes natural to me. When I gave it some thought I realized that art runs in my family, and my older brother used to be an actor. So, for my English project I decided to write a script and make a short film. I had so much fun making the short film that I was hooked.
MM: And are any of your family in the business?
JM: I am the only one in my family who is in the business with the exception of my significant other Amber Thompson who is one of the producers of Expo. She has produced most of the films that I have made.
MM: do you recall your parents’ response when you told them you wanted to be a filmmaker?
JM: My dad still does not understand fully what it is that I do. At first my mom was happy for me, until she realized that I could end up a broke artist, then she began to worry, while still remaining as supportive as she could be.
MM: has it always been about doing your ‘own movies’?
JM: Absolutely, but I have taken on films that were not my own stories, and I am still open to do so, but my passion is in crafting my own stories.
MM: how does Expo compare to the first film you ever did? How do you think you’ve improved as a filmmaker?
JM: Expo is an exponential improvement from my first feature film. My first feature film was an incredible learning opportunity from start to finish. I learned and improved in many areas as a filmmaker.
MM: Any action movies you sat down to watch before writing the script?
JM: While I do draw influence from other films as a filmmaker, I tend to not study other films while I am writing. I actually try to avoid seeing films similar to what I am writing, I do it because I want to be as true as possible to the film I am writing.
MM: the film has been compared to Schwarzenegger classic ‘Commando’. How much of an influence on you and your script was that film?
JM: I loved commando as a kid, but I was not intentionally trying to draw inspiration from commando while I was writing the film.
MM: At any time did you consider starring in the movie yourself?
JM: NO! I have a small cameo in the film but my acting life started and ending with my first student film.
MM: What do you think are your strengths are as a filmmaker?
JM: I think that my strength is in being a good student. What I mean by that is that I am constantly open and willing to learn from each thing that I do, and by learning and improving I am becoming a stronger filmmaker.
MM: What would you say to those considering making an action movie?
JM: Safety is the most important thing on any film set and more important on an action film set. So do your best to be safe, but above all just go out and get it done.