Doing what he does best: Lawson Lewis puts film on the front burner

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By Theresa Gordon Goodwin

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 From as early as he could remember, Lawson Lewis has been fascinated with graphics and the creative way in which advertisements are produced and packaged to tell a compelling story in as little as 30 seconds.

 Today, he is on a path that will take him one step closer to achieving his goal of becoming a filmmaker.

 The Antiguan native has an extensive background in art, more specifically visual art, which he taught at the secondary school level before eventually launching his career in motion graphics and video production.

Lewis is among 30 professionals from within the region who are participating in a virtual script writing and film production programme sponsored by the Caribbean Export Development Agency.

 The intense sessions cover areas such as story development, screen writing, film scheduling, film budgeting and pitching.

 “I remember coming through secondary school, Antigua State College, I use to work with a couple of my friends to come up with ideas for television ads. We watched the Super Bowl and other programmes just for the commercials,” Lewis said.

 “Nobody was doing those type of commercials and I thought, let’s try and start to do something different here. After that I started working with a friend of mine doing motion graphics on the screen and my first commercial was through motion graphics.”

 He said that once he got his feet wet, he then added video production.

 This is where the cinematography was born. Cinematography is essentially art of motion picture photography and filming, either by means of an image sensor, or by means of a light-sensitive material such as film stock.

 “I then approached a business friend at the time and acquired a loan to purchase a particular camera,” Lewis recalled.  “That camera is where I developed my love for cinematography and shooting video, and once I got that camera, that’s when my entire world opened up as to what was possible and what I really wanted to do as a profession.”

 The 44-year-old also laughed when he recalled signing a contract for his first video production advertisement for a now defunct clothing store days before the camera arrived on island.

The camera arrived on the Friday and with the help of video tutorials, he was ready for his first day of shooting the following morning.

 During his career as a video producer, he has worked on over 200 commercials over the past few years, building a name for himself on this tiny island paradise, Antigua and Barbuda.  

 Lewis now sees this 10-week training exercise as an opportunity to put into practice some of the techniques that he has already learnt and a way to generate new skills to assist in his goal of becoming a filmmaker.

 “We are focusing on short films because of the length of the workshop which concludes in December, so we are sticking to what will be a short format,” Lewis said.

 “The workshop goes way beyond filmmakers having a story and wanting to develop it into a film. I think more so, it is going to form a network of regional filmmakers that will be able to collaborate because this is the essence of the entire process.”

 In addition to technical skills, the workshop will also build a network of regional film producers who will be able to collaborate on different projects and share best practices.

The enthusiastic father of three believes the establishment of a core group of filmmakers will further propel the talent within the region, thereby creating a greater appreciation for the creative arts.

Lewis aspires to create compelling stories with his own interesting twist as he looks to take his career to the next level.

The intense 10-week programme concludes on December 13, 2020.

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