-Who is Isaac Lawrence?
I am an award-winning British writer/director specialising in low-budget short films.
In 2020, during my graduate year in Film Production at the University of Portsmouth, I wrote and directed ‘The Village’, a horror film collaboration with the amazing Prop Box Youth Theatre, which went on to win Best Horror Short in London, Ottawa and Campania, Italy and Best Male Director in Berlin. ‘The Village’ has since gone on to become a trilogy.
My day job is editing and assisting in the production of TV shows for Ustreme, a small streaming site started by comedian Jim Davidson, specialising in comedy programmes and military Veteran chat shows. I also run Prop Box’s weekly filmmaking academy with regular cameraman and sound recordist on my films, Charlie Lubbock.
Other ventures of mine outside the horror genre include comedy, drama and experimental films, all of which can be viewed for free on my YouTube channel: Isaac Lawrence Films or website: isaaclawrencefilms.co.uk.
-What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
As cliché as it may be, I’ve wanted to make my own movies since I was a child. I was really into model trains and would use a home camcorder to make my own Thomas & Friends-style films, so it’s something I’ve been destined to do as far back as I can remember really. Then, in the early teenage years, myself and Hayden Davey, who now works with me on many projects in the sound and music departments, made our own comedy web series we both starred in way before we knew what we were doing, but that’s how I learned to edit. My dad was a great sport at that time – we’d always rope him into giving some over-the-top performance the minute he’d get in from work when all he’d want to do is nap.
As I grew from a boy into a man, I began to watch a larger variety of films spanning numerous genres. I always knew I was going to make films, but it was the art of constructing a powerful narrative, atmosphere and often message in so many different ways that made me realise what it was I was going to put on the screen. There were serious hard-hitting films that really made me think about things we take for granted – the last line in Ruggero Deodato’s ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ has and always will stick with me. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Edgar Wright’s ‘Shaun of the Dead’, which I remember made me belly laugh for hours, but also brought up some great points about horror tropes – why do we never use the term zombie? Those two films are very different, but they both get messages across and both tell a good story with very emotional moments – it’s this craft that inspired me to put my own imagination and thoughts on screen.
I am also hugely grateful to my parents and late grandparents for contiually giving me the inspiration to pursue my dream as a filmmaker and to never quit in times of uncertainty. Also to Prop Box’s Caroline, Sarah and their phenomenal young actors and actresses who if they hadn’t trusted me with some of the crazy ideas I bring to them, we never would have been able to pull off the award-winning films we created together – they inspire me everyday.
-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in society?
Absolutely, one hundred percent cinema can bring changes in society. With technology at our fingertips our attention spans are diminishing and cinema’s a unique and entertaining form of delivering and hearing out issues and ideas of how we can improve upon society, let one know they aren’t alone or just allow one to get the healthy dosage of escapism we all need.
It’s also really interesting to see the reactions of an audience – we can understand what makes certain people excited, scared, tense, sad and compare that to real world situations. The invention of cinema really is extremely powerful.
-What would you change in the world?
As a night owl, I wouldn’t mind coffee shops staying open later. I get caught up writing late into the night and they’d probably make the budget of a short film out of me in just one evening.
On a more serious note, I think the rise of social media has made it a little too easy for people to take sides on various issues without much room for debate. We’re long past the days of only a few channels on television where everyone saw everything, everyone saw the political debate on the six o’clock news and everyone came to their own conclusion based on that information. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that people are rather militant with their views these days and, as a young filmmaker, it can be difficult to suggest an alternative viewpoint without a lot of backlash, but I don’t blame the people themselves. Nowadays, people might see another’s one-sided ideal online, agree with it and pay little to no mind about alternative ideas and solutions or whether or not there are downsides. There’s a great documentary on Netflix called ‘The Social Dilemma’ that demonstrates the issues really well. So I think if I could change one thing about the world, it’d be that people would be less idealistic and more open to debate. Perhaps I’d close down social media sites for a day a week or something – it’s a difficult solution.
One of my upcoming projects will be delving deep into topics like these such as cancel culture and free speech in a rather unconventional way, so it will be interesting to see how those who watch it react when it’s eventually out.
-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?
There was a little panic during the pandemic when it looked like people were never going to return to the cinema. Thankfully, we’ve seen recently that cinema is still in demand with major hits like ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, which has grossed over a billion dollars at the box office so far or the latest ‘Scream’ film, which had a much lower budget but made a profit of over one hundred million dollars. So, luckily I don’t think the big screen is going away anytime soon, but it certainly has given way to more home entertainment releases, which may be really good for indie filmmakers since streaming services are much more likely to pay attention to projects that are fantastic and unique, but their low budget may show a bit too much to go onto a cinema screen.
I think we’re going to start seeing more independent films and shows on on demand services, especially since almost everyone can make a movie with a six inch mobile phone they carry around everywhere in their pocket. Perhaps that will make it more difficult to stand out from the crowd, but on the plus side it wouldn’t surprise me if it created more jobs and therefore more opportunities for up-and-coming filmmakers in this very competitive industry.
It wouldn’t shock me to see virtual reality films becoming more common too, which would be great considering how easy it is to be distracted by a phone or other such item; removing the option to get distracted and actually in the film’s world will bring back the immersion it’s too easy to break out of nowadays.
Whatever the case, cinema isn’t going anywhere and people will always be starving for more.