Through Motheo Moeng's lens: Cinematographer won awards for his work

27 February 2019 - 10:43
Motheo Moeng  brings the director's vision to life when telling astory through film
Motheo Moeng brings the director's vision to life when telling astory through film

They say a picture speaks a thousand words.

What would films be without the brilliance of cinematographers?

Motheo Moeng has the exceptional skill of bringing pictures to life, evoking emotions like sadness or joy through a camera using lighting, lenses, camera movement and composition. He brings the director's vision to life when telling a story through film.

Moeng's work saw him win a SAFTA award last year for the local film Tjovitjo.

He is also a member of the SA Society of Cinematographers.

"Whenever I watched films and saw ASC or BSC at the end of my favourite cinematographers' names, it made me want to have those letters at the end of my name too. When I received the email in 2017 to be part of this exclusive society, it was a little affirmation that I am indeed on the right track. For the longest time it wasn't reflective of the country and for the first time that year they invited two nonwhite people to join," explains Moeng.

Born in Gugulethu, Cape Town, the 33-year-old reckons he would've been an outstanding soccer player, if he didn't discover cinematography.

"I reckon I could've played in the biggest stadiums and with the best players in the world. For the longest time, I wanted to be a soccer player. Growing up that seemed like the most logical way of progressing and getting out the hood. There was a guy who lived [near my home] called Thobela Bikwana, the star of Gugs, and his older brother owned the football club I played for as a kid. I wanted to represent my country the same way he did."

But always being intrigued by imagery he went on to study photography.

"The term cinematography and the idea of the craft only came to me when I was 19. The college brought in different industry experts to speak about the different types of photography and possible fields we can explore like cinematography."

His very first film was Skyf in 2010 - a story about addiction which started out as a PSA (public service announcement) about anti-cigarette smoking that developed into a feature film.

"A little Canon camera called a 5d Mark 2 changed our lives. We were able to get into small spaces, shoot unnoticed and still get HD footage with minimal lights. We went out into the streets of Yeoville and created a little cult classic," he says proudly.

Moeng was raised by his grandmother and later moved to Pretoria to stay with his mother.

"My gran was extremely strict and noncompromising. Vincent Moloi, a director I worked with, always referred to my sensitivity and personality as amongst the reasons he worked with me. But it's as a result of being raised by my mother and grandmother."

His recent work is the successful local film, Matwetwe.

Moeng and the creator, Kagiso Lediga, also collaborated on Catching Feelings.