A Filmmaker on the Rise

Goofy, bearded and caring, otherwise known as Etienne Nong-Lambert. Those were the words he chose when asked to describe himself. The name is as unique as the filmmaker, who has started to announce his presence in the Brooks Institute film program in Ventura, California. At 23 years old and originally from Des Moines, Iowa, Nong-Lambert exudes a passionate, unique voice in the film works that he produces both in and out of school.

“I moved [to Ventura] about a year ago,” said Nong-Lambert. “I’ve always had an interest in film and photography but I never thought I could do it, so I decided on studying environmental science, but never found that niche.”

Nong-Lambert didn’t find his niche in environmental science studies, but it seems that he did find it within film. Within his first semester he was already a part of a project written by one of his colleagues, Danny Park. “Clean Conscience” is a film about two young men who work at a pool cleaning service, which is really a business that specializes in cleaning up the murders of criminals. The two main characters’ professionalism makes their service extremely popular, which as a result leads them to challenges that eventually tear them apart. The project was ambitious for a student film with a crew only in their first semester. Nong-Lambert took on the role as the lead editor of the film and cut together a narrative that was just under twenty-four minutes in run time, far exceeding the typical run time of three to five minutes for a first-semster student film.

In addition to being a filmmaker and creative assistant to his peers, Etienne Nong-Lambert is a disc jockey on the side. He feels this extracurricular investment has helped him to discover a different perspective on his unique style of work and short films.

“I usually get a lot of my inspiration from music,” says Nong-Lambert. “Whatever I hear and whatever I feel is something that I think needs to be documented… something that needs to be told.”

When asked about his favorite film at Brooks Institute thus far, Nong-Lambert spoke about an entry-level film class taught by Glynn Beard. Beard had students produce an identity piece that visually showed who each person was through a short film.

“I really liked the way [my identity piece] turned out because it hit so close to home,” Nong-Lambert states. “It just really tells my story of who I am within three minutes.”

The film was entirely his creation (directing, shooting, and editing), all planned out in his head. The planning took just over a week: storyboarding and shooting took two days each, and he had to allow a surplus of time for post-production. The result showed a piece that set itself apart from the others. Nong-Lambert decided to make an appearance so the audience would connect to more than just his voice-over. This allowed the viewer to see his versatility in various films, which he created entirely or at minimum had a hand in.

Nong-Lambert strives for the drive to make films that others find different, unique, and interesting. His most recent film “Speculum” follows that same mindset. The inspiration for the film was derived from Michael Shainblum’s “Mirror City” video. Nong-Lambert wanted to try and attempt the same concept of mirrored landscapes while also adding his own personal style to the film. Using Los Angeles as his canvas, he created a time-lapse of the city at night and incorporated the kaleidoscope effect Shainblum used onto the raw footage. The assignment was for the second cinematography class offered at Brooks Institute and had students put together a 60 second montage of photos and video.

“It took me two days to shoot and several more days to edit,” states Nong-Lambert. “I believe I achieved more then what I sought after when attempting this project.”

The video shown above is Nong-Lambert’s Identity piece “Who Am I.” There is sure to be a day when this aspiring filmmaker is the recipient of a coveted Oscar for one of his films, but for now he is just “trying to escape this labyrinth” and find his name in the film industry.