Interview with Filmmaker Daniel Lowenstein (EGO)

EGO was the winner of BEST PERFORMERS at the September 2020 Dance & Music Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Having the opportunity to work with Northern Ballet on this film was a real opportunity to use movement to tell a narrative. I have always been interested in the ego We all have, and how it works within us. We all have one and it can be positive or it can be detrimental. I found that contrast really interesting and the perfect platform to tell this story. So we decided to use ego as the backbone of the film.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Kenneth Tindall from Northern Ballet, and I met for the first time in August 2019 and we signed off on the final film around 6 months after that.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Contrast / Unpredictable

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The biggest challenge for us were the location logistics, as we shot in so many different places with a fair amount of travelling between them. We started close to Leeds where Northern Ballet are based on the beach. The weather wasn’t our friend that day, and neither was the tide. We planned to shoot in the morning catching the tide when it was in, but it was pouring with cold rain, which delayed us and meant we lost the tide.

Most of the scene was on steadicam, which wasn’t ideal. But due to the passion and determination of 84 films we pushed through and managed to get the images we wanted. The team, kenny and I were knee deep in the sea while the dancers were pushing themselves in the cold weather. I’m eternally grateful to the team for their dedication to this film!

You can see clearly in this BTS film what went down –

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

This was just amazing. Such an invaluable experience! To hear your audience members conveying their opinions on this film. It was so satisfying to know that they understood the vision and that it translated clearly to them. They were of course a very educated audience and their feedback was fantastically delivered. Most of the comments highlighted on the visuals which was lovely to hear, as we all put such an effort in pushing the boundaries on the imagery.

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I have always loved collaboration and the fusion of styles of dance. I approached this commission in the same way, when working with Northern Ballet and Kenneth Tindall on the
concept. I always work with darkness and light, I love contrast as I think its true to life. We started with thinking about ideas that would give us a foundation to base the story on. The idea of Ego came quite naturally because to be a professional dancer you need to tap into your ego to successfully perform on stage and push through the adversities of being a performer. So I thought all the dancers involved could relate to this feeling, which to me is very important. I want all characters in my films to have a hook and be able to personally relate to the foundation of the film.

Then to put Ego in the context of a relationship made sense as their were so many options and was relatable to the audience. I wanted the viewer to be able to get an inside the psyche of a relationship. Showing us scenes that we wouldn’t usually be able to see.

Northern Ballet and Kenny were so open to ideas and concepts and were really up for pushing some boundaries. They are predominately a ballet / classical contemporary company but they were open to using other styles in this film. I cant thank them enough for their open minds.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I actually can’t answer this, there are so many… I have recently been very inspired by ‘Homecoming’ (sorry I know its a series)

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I personally think Filmfreeway is a great platform, very convenient and easy to use.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Due to my Breakdance background I must have listened to Jimmy Castor Bunch, It’s just begun over 1000 times.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I am currently in post production on a narrative short called Becoming Everything which focuses on the story of a man who unexpectedly loses his wife and becomes a single father. It’s the story of how men try to pretend that they are fine when a lot of the time they are far from it. We see his journey through mental health, where ultimately he finds hope through the support of his daughter.

I’m also in pre production on I Thought I Knew You… which focuses on Martha and Esther, they have everything behind them.
– 13 years, friendship, love and understanding but when Martha gets fed up with taking care of Esther she finds she is struck by her sudden feelings for a man. This short film is an exploration of what happens when a long term relationship is hampered by vulnerability, need and power.

I thought I knew you… stars UK Pop Star and actor Pixie Lott, established actors Marie McGonigle and Anthony Kaye. I’m also in pre production on PILL an online series and 1 large feature film based on a female war correspondent.

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