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The Mentawai - Behind the Scenes Documentary Video

June 05, 2010 //  News Back to posts

I'm not exactly sure what sparked the video editing rampage I undertook this week. Something deep inside told me it was time to finally edit my video from Siberut, Indonesia. Perhaps it's because my friends Will and Cale took this trip to visit the Mentawai tribe almost exactly one year ago... Or, perhaps it's because I miss Ricky and the medicine men and want to go back. Enjoy this video, running time is 16:54.

To read the original blog/journal entry, with more information and drama that went on behind the lense, click here

Video shot by Cale Glendening
Video Edited by… me!
Lighting Assistant / Translation by Willem Isbrucker
Guiding / Translation by Ricky Vhoetra and Gejeng
Soundscapes by Benjamin Bates
Still camera, abused and muddied, sponsored by Phase One

All the Mentawai interviews were translated on location with Ricky, Gejeng and Will. However later to sync up the words to the interviews, I had to make a few Skype calls to Ricky and play him the audio. It is very hard for me to understand Mentawai and Indonesian. Because of that, some of the words might not be perfectly arranged in the time line, but the content is.


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aradilon // June 06, 2010 00:03

Amazing video, well made and full of good material!

Andrew // June 06, 2010 00:04

Wow. Thanks Joey for documenting the Mentawai. It was really eye opening and thought holy shit, you're crazy for carrying that gear into those conditions! Amazing stuff!

The Mentawai – Behind the Scenes Documentary Video from Joey L: The Blog « Heath Aaron Photo's Blog // June 06, 2010 00:33

[...] June 5, 2010 by Heath Aaron Leave a Comment Check Out Joey L. Blog for information about the video [...]

Kelly Hofer // June 06, 2010 00:36

Joey,What struck me first about this expedition that was personal work, is that you took time to not only shoot a beautiful culture in a beautiful way, with lights ect, but that you also took the time and brought along friends that shoot video. I know well, and they do too, that their culture is a dying one, and recording it was an act that i admire you for. I really like the whole concept of bringing fashion type lighting to what is tratitionally shot with some grittiness. it's valuable.

Jennifer Wolowic // June 06, 2010 01:21

Great doc and a fantastic collections of photos. The respect you have of the Mentawai is present in every moment. As an anthropologist I applaud your inclusion of the shaman at the end who speaks directly to the rest of us and showing the collaboration between the crew and the people you photographed. Thanks

Sebastien G. // June 06, 2010 02:02

Wow... awesome Joey, you've been upgrading a bit since the tutorial DVD you've made in DPChallenge Forum ;) ... Love your work... keep it up

Sterling // June 06, 2010 02:16

thank you

Cory // June 06, 2010 02:35

I love the background information on this video Joey. Making the connection with the Mentawai is very important than just busting your camera out the moment you arrive. Well done and thank you fore educating the world on international people skills.

Brian Dawes // June 06, 2010 05:16

Incredible journey, thanks for sharing Joey...

Tommy // June 06, 2010 06:36

Its nice to see the video that goes along with the journal entries from the trip. The editing was great. I loved it.

Peter Hearl // June 06, 2010 06:59

Hi Joey, what a great video. Love the bit with the tattoo, its a great shame that people like the Mentawai and there culture is disappearing. You are doing a great job to keep there culture alive. Keep up the excellent work, Peter

AntonioA // June 06, 2010 07:06

Absolutely brilliant and sad in a way, to hear them talking about the disappearance of their culture. You had quite a privilege being with them and did a fitting job of capturing them for posterity. I noticed the camera had a filter holder, did you use any filters on this? or was it just a UV or polarizer?Anyways, nice vid, it almost felt Nat Geo!

jayponko // June 06, 2010 08:05

this was an amazing documentary joey! thanks for bringing us closer to the mentaway through your pics and the vid and cales amazing shots :)

Isabella // June 06, 2010 10:25

I watched the whole movie, loved it! awesome.

tomekcm // June 06, 2010 10:28

Amazing! Wspaniałe

Miriam // June 06, 2010 10:52

Absolutely stunning! Love your photograpy, your heart.. (and you got some great legs :) This video was great to watch. Thanks!

Adam // June 06, 2010 11:26

Joey thank you so much for sharing your journey! I hope culture like this will survive!

Levi // June 06, 2010 14:27

Joey - you probably get this alot, but your work is so inspiring. I've been following your blog and adventures for over a year now and your passion for what you do never ceases to amaze me. Thanks for your willingness to share your journey.

cathy scholl // June 06, 2010 16:01

Absolutely beautiful. You guys are amazing.Great to see the team in action.You really do it right and are great ambassadors for photography.Thanks and keep going!

Chris Wanamaker // June 06, 2010 16:46

Incredible video! Made me feel like I was there myself!

Daniel Zihlmann Photographer // June 06, 2010 17:37

Great video, thanks for sharing behind the scenes and in the video tutorials!

Flemming Bo Jensen // June 06, 2010 17:51

Thanks Joey for this great insight into your trip and the Mentawai culture and way of life. I loved the video and I really loved the Mentawai people, what a shame their beautiful culture is dying.

Sander // June 06, 2010 18:00

Hi Joey, nice film! Very interesting how to see the rest behind it and the interviews. Bravo to your team, well done man!!Greetings, the Dutchies.

Jeremy // June 06, 2010 18:14

This was great. It sure didn't seem like 16 min. passed by while watching it. I loved every minute.

GammaNine // June 06, 2010 19:01

Joey et all, you guys are an inspiration to all of us photographers and adventurers, i am in awe of this journey and the images you've captured, if you ever need a porter, lighting assistant, coffee getter, pant washer on your next travel i would do it in a heartbeat

Simon Cousineau // June 06, 2010 19:27

Joey, this video knocked me right off my chair. It makes me want to visit the mentawai and live there as you did for 3 weeks.Truly a wonderful piece of your work again and I soon expect to see more of it.RegardsSimon

bartekp // June 06, 2010 20:30

You are the MAN!! superb work!!

Geoff Heith // June 06, 2010 21:07

Thanks Joey for posting was powerful and amazing!

Lyudmila Nairnyak // June 06, 2010 23:41

Lyudmila Nairnyak // June 06, 2010 23:45


Heather Strooh // June 07, 2010 01:40

It's sad and scary to think of the tribes and cultures that have already been lost... some we may not even know of. If no permanent record were kept, no tools left... there is no way for us to know. It's really sad. I'm glad you guys were able to go there and document this. Seeing this will preserve the Mentawai in the minds and hearts of all of us who have seen this vid and the photos.

Miikka // June 07, 2010 06:15

Thanks!Well done!

Hung NguyenC // June 07, 2010 06:21

Amazing documentary film. I love the last minutes.

Jason the Saj // June 07, 2010 08:26

This was really fun to watch Joey. Thank you for the very intimate look into where your photos come from, and the people in them.My brother-in-law has traveled to a few places like this. I hear the stories of being covered in leeches and what not. But seeing video of such travels is quite amazing.Plus it's sans leeches. LOL- JasonPS - I love the photo of you up to your shoulders in water holding the camera. Now there's a real photographer.

Filipus Dasawala // June 07, 2010 14:26

Hi Joey! Just watched your video from Vimeo. I'm glad you made this video, which made me more eager to visit every places in my country (Indonesia). In one month time, I'll be visiting one of remote islands of Indonesia. Chances are high that I'll encounter such culture, similar to, and endangered as Mentawai culture I like your photographs very much. I'd like to immortalize it through pictures. Any tips that you can share perhaps? Thank you! :D

Rick Wenner // June 07, 2010 15:27

This is by far my favorite video you've created so far. It did not even feel like 16 minutes at all since I was so intrigued by this. Excellent job man.

Simon // June 07, 2010 15:30

Fantastic film, almost as good as the stills! Cool bunch of people, you did them proud there Joe (

Erin Faye // June 07, 2010 16:43

Amazing!!!!!! I would love to be able to go on a trip like that. Someday.....

Stephen // June 07, 2010 19:23

I think it hurt me more just watching that tattooing.

Mellie Mae // June 08, 2010 01:31

beautiful, had chills watching it....what an experience. thanks

Jenna Julianne // June 08, 2010 03:35

well any more comments and you'll be a famous blogger like Jasmine Star! Awesome video! Thanks for listening to the whisperings of soul and editing it! We as viewers are so thankful to be taken to the places you once journeyed through! Mahalo for capturing the world. What a wonderful vision and passion you have-what a blessing and God given talent. WOW You set your goals at such high standards- and accomplish your dreams and adventures with honor and duty. Now that is EPIC ninakupenda!

Jenna Julianne // June 08, 2010 03:42

shwat? Your video is featured right smack dab on the home page of vimeo! Yay! I was just lookn for my friends video -but your's was right there and its had over 14k views. sickkkk!

Jan // June 08, 2010 05:38

Hi, this is very nice film and photos. Thanks folks :-)

Eric // June 08, 2010 08:00

This is effing spectacular videography and photography. Well done guys.

Matt Murphy // June 08, 2010 09:15

Joey - just happened upon your Vimeo feed whilst 'Working at Home' ... and clearly not really working :)I was in Sumatra, back in 1997 - and never made it to Siberut. tho heard lots about it. I did spend 8 weeks on the rest of Sumatra, however, and fell in love with the culture and the people.I am very much a keen amateur photographer - but today you have inspired me to dust off my DSLR and get back shooting. I might even scan in some old film from Sumatra.. good luck. // June 08, 2010 10:02

[...] [...]

Behind the Scenes mit Joey L. | // June 08, 2010 17:46

[...] Joey L hat bei seinem Besuch der Mentawai nicht nur Photos gemacht, sondern auch eine Dokumentation [...]

AndréG Blog » Die Mentawai – eine Dokumentation // June 08, 2010 21:24

[...] folgende Video ist augenscheinlich eine Dokumentation der Reise von Joey in eben diese Region, um die Mentawai und ihre Kultur kennen zu lernen und für die [...]

Gary // June 08, 2010 21:47

beautiful and inspirational!.......keep up the good work!

Amy Heiden // June 09, 2010 16:37

This video is incredible. I felt such a connection to the tribe, though we've never met. You did such a fantastic job capturing the culture and the moments between you, the crew and the tribe members. Thanks for sharing this vanishing culture with us.

bobby // June 10, 2010 16:30

wow..thats in my country,,you are my favorite photographer..ahh snap..if i know you in Indonesia i glad to see you ...great...

He’s young, succesful, and I’m not envious at all… ya right. // June 12, 2010 05:33

[...] Photographers, video [...]

Ricardo // June 12, 2010 19:21

excelente video y fotografías, siempre he visto tu trabajo desde tus primeros videos tutorialesahora eres todo un profesional en la foto, felicidades saludos

Rozzy // June 14, 2010 03:58

J ~ what a fantastic tribute to some truly amazing people. You've just made the world a bit smaller by sharing your experience..and you've given the Mentawai such a clear voice. Its beautiful work and I'm moved. Thank you.

Chad Pennington // June 15, 2010 04:42

Joey , I am really felling the story - where he said after us there will be no more and then you showed the younger generation that look so different from them. what can I do to accompany you on your next trip there?

your welcome » Blog Archive » Von einem Openbook von Galileo Design // June 15, 2010 23:21

[...] mir heute auch sehr gut gefallen hat, war ein Behind the Scenes Video eines Documentary Films Namens „The Mentawai“ von Joey L. Ist wirklich nicht nur etwas für [...]

Ginte // June 16, 2010 13:19

i like your site, very interesting stuff...thanks a lot for sharing....

yuna // June 29, 2010 09:47

that's interesting thing man.. love ur story.. i've not been there yet even i'm indonesian..

Debbi S. // June 29, 2010 21:27

Wow Amazing Video Joey! You will be on National Geographic channel soon!Debbi

Jared Rey // June 29, 2010 22:28

amazing video. that is all I can say. what a great look into the lives of these people.

lizet // July 05, 2010 12:47

a-ma-zing. i truly love the little film pieces in between - that real Cale style (i saw some other vids on the internet, love his way of filming) and the photo's... yeah they are gorgeous!i could whatch this for an hour or more! :D

Heinz Schmidt // July 05, 2010 23:41

Hi Joey,Your work with the Mentawai is really awesome. We so desperately need to document and preserve the culture and ways of life of these people and other tribes around the world before they are all westernized.The Levendu tribe in South Africa even know of a tree, called the Masetado (elephant bush) that is a cure for Malaria. Great work, keep it up.Heinz

Allison // July 07, 2010 05:31

Joey, thank you for working to preserve this culture. It's hard to think that the Mentawai could be forgotten someday, and that so many cultures have already been forgotten.

Sören // July 10, 2010 08:36

Very interesting...!!Since I saw u're first pics, I was interesting in that.Thanks for sharing.Good luck und best wishesSoeren

Precocidad | Mácula Lútea // July 13, 2010 05:10

[...] Esta fin de semana charlando con un buen amigo sobre fotografía, me recomendó echarle un vistazo al trabajo de un “chaval” (no se me ocurre otro calificativo) llamado Joey Lawrence. Este precoz fotógrafo de tan sólo 20 años, me ha dejado sorprendido por su talento y sus recursos. En su web se puede ver unas excelentes galerías de fotos, que no te dejan indiferente. No obstante añado a esta entrada un vídeo que corresponde a la explicación de lo que se puede encontrar en uno de sus tutoriales, para hacerse una idea de lo que se lleva entre manos y de cómo se busca la vida en esto de la fotografía. Por cierto su blog tampoco tiene desperdicio, al igual que este vídeo. [...]

Alyssa Barajas // July 14, 2010 20:43

Joey, this video is great, it's so inspiring to see you guys out there travelling the world and meeting such fascinating individuals. The still images you have contributed to this video are phenomenal. The lighting is so subtle but adds so much to each shot. Looks like you are shooting with a Mamiya, are you using a digital back or are you shooting film as well? Great job!

Emilie White // July 14, 2010 22:29

Hi Joey,This video is amazing. From the story, to the images, to the editing. It must such an amazing, eye opening experience. We learn already so much in the photographs you took of the Mentawai, but this video allows us to discover more about this community. Amazing work. I am a huge fan.Looking forward to the next travels.All the best, Emilie

Michael Schmidt // July 15, 2010 21:22

Wow! Very cool journey and very touching video. It's crazy how we go about our normal everyday lives and luxuries and take for granted what we have. Thank you for allowing us to learn about the Mentawai tribe and their culture. You continue to impress and inspire me with each and every one of your videos and images. Keep doing what you are doing because its not only making you feel good but it is educating others as well. The tribe seemed very happy to have your company.

Elena Hernandez // July 17, 2010 06:36

Simply Amazing Joey!... the amount of work involved in creating the art you want to portray...Truly gorgeous work

Lain Ewing // July 18, 2010 23:36

Your video is amazing. It is an inspiration

Cynthia Moore // July 24, 2010 06:00

Amazing work Joey! Everytime I "check in" I am amazed at what you are up to. Your talents are endless. You are an inspiration as an artist and a human being.

Ed Stone // August 13, 2010 10:33

I love this. What struck me the most actually was the photos of the older shaman and then younger generations. It really shows how the western world is influencing and destroying cultures. I think this is something your should pursue further.

Joey Laurence on location video — Photo Accessories The Phottix Journal // August 15, 2010 22:08

[...] – he’ll go the distance to get a shot. Trekking through a rain-forest in Indonesia? Humidity, untold pounds of gear, poisonous snakes – I have a new-found respect for Joey L. Given the fact we are both [...]

kevin r. ramos // August 20, 2010 01:34

joey keeping doing it brother. thank you for the insight and intimate exposure to cultures many of us will rarely encounter in person. you're an example of inspiration for all photographers in the art of immersing and deeply connecting with ones subject matter. truly strong imagery can be the result with such passion and devotion. thank you.

Mathew // August 27, 2010 21:15

The video is great for what it is and about. I admire your drive and enthusiasm. Best!

Bsmyth // September 02, 2010 04:48

Joey sorry i havent been around but I'm still following your work. Thanks for having your blog, such great inspiration to keep moving forward.

Cathy and David // September 08, 2010 14:50

Stumbled across your site via Flosites. Absolutely love your work and the video. Very cool. :)

Amish // September 29, 2010 23:55

That was pretty darn amazing. Keep up the amazing work you constantly prove to amaze us all with.Yup the word amaze was used 3 times.

Ifan Febriadi // October 28, 2010 12:39

Hi Joey love your work, just heard from the news, Tsunami just wiped out the whole mentawai island, 313 died, 500 missing

Jayne.M // February 01, 2011 17:53

I could watch this on repeat all day. The (please excuse the use of the word) 'banter' between you all is so refreshing, and then the deep words from the Shaman is so, almost shocking. It's so unfortunate to think that the modern world is somehow managing to demolish such a culture rich clan despite them living almost hidden in such a small part of the world. Can't help but want a Mentawain tattoo on my spine.

fotograf osnabrück // March 16, 2011 02:33

Im a photographer in osnabrueck germany and I really like this video. thanks

Quincy // March 18, 2011 20:13

I don't even know who you are. I just stumbed accross this blog looking for info on stick and poke tattoo methods. But this is incredible work. I'll be perusing a lot of this website from now on. Very touching image of one of many dying cultures. What I find especially interesting, is that they guy in the end invites the worlds to come see the culture while it exists. Usually the arrival of others from around the world is a main contributor to cultural erosion. He must be resigned to say that.

The Mentawai – Behind the Scenes Documentary Video from Joey L: The Blog « Heath Hurwitz's Blog // July 25, 2011 07:09

[...] Check Out Joey L. Blog for information about the video [...]

David Lara // July 09, 2012 21:10

Hey Joey, awesome the DVD with you and Lara Jade. I just recently purchased a Mamiya 645AFD's my first exposure to MF, well film in general and I'm having a blast. Question on the bellow hood that you have shown in this video... what brand is that? I'm looking to purchase one similar to the one you have. Thanks in advance. Your work is amazing.

Konrad // April 15, 2013 22:28

Hi Joey,

this was truly one of the most touching documentaries I have seen in a long time. Preserving this is very important. I also very much liked your choice of music.


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