I catch up with Beau Loewenthal, winner of the February 2012 Reelshow Online Student Film Competition with his film King of Life.
Hi Beau, firstly congratulations on winning the Reelshow Student Film Competition in February. Tell me a little bit about your background. What got you into filmmaking, and who do you draw your inspiration from?
Hi Mary Lou, thanks for the congratulations. Well, during my A Levels in 6th form, I actually aspired to be a physiotherapist, but then something clicked and I realised that I actually really enjoyed doing what I did in Media Studies (we made a few small projects) and decided I’d like to get into the Film/TV industry. I have many inspirations, many directors and films which inspire me. To name a few Ridley Scott, Quentin Tarantino, and for films Gladiator, Man on Fire and many more. But something that I believe has had quite an impact on me in terms of filmmaking is anime.
Where did you get the idea for your film?
Well initially it derived from me wanting to push myself. I had always thought of doing a foreign language film and because we had a 2 minute assignment at university, I thought that in 2 minutes I could probably get away with a WWII on a next to nothing budget. The idea itself had been rewritten and changed a few times and although I came up with the concept myself, I remember watching an episode of Naruto Shippuden and there was a specific line which a character said that influenced King of Life. Also, Letters from Iwo Jima played a very significant role too. That was probably my main inspiration as I got ideas for costumes and characters from there.
King of Life was shot in Japanese with English sub- titles, Yuko Tochii your script supervisor, must have been a huge help with this.
Yuko-san helped me so much. I think that her teaching me a little Japanese awhile back also helped me with my understanding of what the characters might say and in which tone. I doubt I could have done it without her assistance. Another person I couldn’t have done it without is my beautiful wife Runalaila who helped me every step of the way.
Tell me about the casting process, did you just use professional actors or friends as well?
Yes, that’s right. I found the actors via casting site and asked them if they’d do it for free, expenses and food paid for and thankfully they agreed. Both American soldiers were my friends and the one who shoots the medic at the end was my friend James, the sound technician!
What did you shoot the film on, and with which particular equipment?
I own a Canon 600D which I used and a 24-105 f/4 L lens. That was it. All lighting was natural. Oh, and I used a Rode Videomic and another shotgun microphone (a Sennheiser one) for additional audio.
How long was your shoot?
A day. In total, I’d say roughly 6 hours.
Where was it shot, and were there any issues with locations? Did you use University facilities?
It was shot in a wood in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The only issue I can think of was the slightly long trek to the location within the woods. I didn’t use any University facilities on this project.
What did you edit the film on?
I used Final Cut Pro to edit the film and then when I was happy with the sequence, I used a free product called Automatic Duck to create an XML file which was then opened in Adobe After Effects for colour grading and special effects (such as muzzle flares etc.)
What’s your ambition? What aspect of the industry do you aspire to be involved in?
I hope to get into video editing. I’m very keen on being an editor and of course, I will try to take anything what comes, but I am leaning slightly more towards Film.
You graduate from Buckingham University this year. Can you also tell us a bit about your years at university, what course have you been studying and do you think it is essential for your career path?
I’ve been studying Film and TV Production for almost 3 years now and they have been great. I’ve met my wife who also studies the same course and is in my year, I’ve learnt a massive amount of information and through it have been granted many opportunities to be able to begin paid work. The great thing about this industry is that anyone can be successful in any amount of days. It’s about how much effort you put in and how good you are and also about who you know. Unlike other jobs, if you are really good you can get recognised much more easily instead of slugging your way from the bottom and hoping to make it to the top.
Going to university definitely has provided me with invaluable skills and insight, but you can still achieve this without going to university through hard work and experience which is essential with working in the media industry.
Sites like the Reelshow help film students and grads to get their work noticed/showcased internationally. How are you finding things since winning the ReelShow competition?
It’s a real boost! I’ve never really won a competition for a film that I’ve made, but since I won Reelshow Feb 12 it’s urged me to want to enter more competitions! Thankfully, since then I’ve been shortlisted in a few other competitions too.
Who is your favourite filmmaker?..and why
I’d have to say Ridley Scott, just because he stole my childhood away with Gladiator at 10. I probably know every bit of dialogue for that film. He’s made so many other classics too.
Finally, what’s the last film that you saw and the best film that you have seen in the last twelve months?
The last film I saw was Safe House I believe with one of my favourite actors, Denzel Washington and the best film that I’ve seen in the last 12 months? Well, I don’t think I’ve seen Gladiator all the way through in the last 12 months so I’ll rule that out. I’d say Letters from Iwo Jima.
Thanks Beau, we wish you all the best and success with your film career.