Cory Martin’s Cinematic Voyage Across 70 Countries

Through innovative storytelling, Cory Martin challenges preconceptions and introduces audiences to new perspectives.

Cinematographer Cory Martin

Emmy®-winning cinematographer, director, and storyteller Cory Martin has traveled to over 70 countries, documenting everything from luxurious resorts to everyday community life. Read his interview to learn about what keeps him inspired, his favorite projects, and how he uses Musicbed in his work. 

Musicbed: What sparked your passion for filmmaking/storytelling?

Cory Martin: I didn’t really grow up with the arts at all. I only first picked up a camera at the end of my college career when I was majoring in education, so when I first picked it up, it felt more like a hobby rather than a career path. However, I think what sparked my true passion for filmmaking/storytelling was when it allowed me to interact with people on a deeper level. It felt like a gateway to learning more about the world and cultures that are so drastically different from my own, and then, in turn, I learned a lot about myself. I think through that passion for telling these untold stories, I also developed a passion for the cinematography aspect of it. I felt way more conscious of my place and privilege in telling these stories, so then I developed a desire to make them look as beautiful and inspiring as I could.

What keeps you motivated and creatively inspired?

The simple answer is life. I feel fortunate to be able to experience and travel the world, so through that, I’m exposed to so many different cultures and environments that keep me motivated. Every experience/culture is unique and requires a different approach to how to tell the story.

Cory Martin on set in Antartica

What makes a story visually appealing? What role does music play in storytelling?

There’s a lot that goes into making a beautiful image such as composition, color, and subject matter, but for me, lighting is always the key. With good light, you can make anything look beautiful. Music, for me, is the key ingredient to creating the emotion and tone of the story. If you have beautiful images but don’t have the right music for them, you’ll end up changing the entire emotional response.

What elements do you think are essential for crafting a compelling story?

There are tons of elements that are crucial to telling a compelling story. From character development to the story arc, visuals, music, and sound design. I think all of these work together to create a story that elicits emotion, which ultimately is the end goal of storytelling.

How important is music in your work?

I think arguably it’s one of the most crucial. I try to create a mood/emotion with the work I do, and truly the only way to achieve that is through music and sound.

What advice would you give other filmmakers/creators who are just starting their careers?

Find your niche. I think in a heavily saturated world of filmmaking, there are too many people recreating others’ work. So, if you’re able to distinguish yourself with your style or type of content, you can go much further. I also think you need to live. All of us are unique and have distinct lives, so find inspiration by enjoying and living your life.

How do you find the balance between pushing boundaries creatively and delivering what your client wants or audience wants to see?

It’s definitely tough to balance what the client/algorithm wants vs what pushes you creatively. I think it’s just important to make time to do both. I think a lot of people get wrapped up in what the audience wants to see and forget to grow and push themselves creatively.

Cory Martin on boat filming with crew

What is the most challenging aspect of being a filmmaker/creative?

For me, it’s sharing your work. All art is subjective. Some people will like your work and some people won’t. That’s just how it is. Once you get over that fear, that’s when you can really push more and just create.

What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?

There are tons of projects that I feel proud of and are my favorites for different reasons. However, the top one is a full-feature film I Directed and shot called Project Iceman, where I and a team captured the first person to ever complete an Ironman in Antarctica. It was the most logistically challenging doc I’ve worked on, a story that’s never been told before, and my first full feature, so it feels special to me. The next top one is a short film I did on the Honey Hunters in Nepal. One of the most unique and culturally interesting pieces I’ve been able to experience.

How do you search for music on Musicbed? What are some tips that you’d give other filmmakers to search on Musicbed?

I usually find a song that I like a lot through the curated playlists, then search for similar songs to make a collection of compositions I like. Then, I keep doing that for every song I enjoy to build a massive collection. My advice to filmmakers searching on Musicbed is just to listen to a lot of work. The library is so expansive and has so many hidden gems that you can only find by really listening extensively.

Why do you utilize Musicbed in your work?

Simply put, I think Musicbed offers the highest quality music that you can license. I also love the way that they set up their business. I’m an advocate for the arts in general and I love that they work directly with the artists, so they can get compensated accordingly.

Explore an exclusive playlist of Cory’s go-to music for elevating his films—available to license only on Musicbed.