Simon Levene


Talks to us a little bit about your background?

At 19 I was lucky to be offered a full time job as a runner working in TV commercials, my salary was £7,000 a year. After 6 months they upped it to £7,500! From there I progressed to film editing, and after a few years I went off and shot a test directing showreel and was lucky to be taken on as a director.

How long have you been interested in Film and how did you begin to persue a career?

Truthfully, before landing the job as a runner, I had no real idea what I was going to do. I was very lucky to be given the chance. However, I have always had favourite films and directors. Woody Allen is my hero. However, I’m not sure I would have made it without landing that running job. I was turned down 2 years in a row by a film school!

What group of ideas and people are behind ‘Shoreditch Slayer’?

Quincey Cassel Williams contacted me after seeing one of my other shorts, Tube Poker. From there I met Bosola Ajenifuja and we started to talk about collaborating on a transmedia project surrounding Vampires. The trailer I shot is just a small part of a much bigger project they are working on called Shoreditch Slayer.

What sort of equipment did you use, it has a gorgeous horror film bleak aesthetic?

That aesthetic is actually a combination of many different things including some excellent sound work. However, I will say that in preproduction we were stuck as I had way too many locations scripted than I could shoot in our 2 scheduled days.  The location manager suggested a disused set in Wimbledon where they used to shoot the police drama “The Bill”.  Amongst other weird stuff they have a working hospital, a morgue, a whole enclosed street, all now completely disused, all right next to eachother. It is a pretty weird and eerie place but great for shooting a horror.

What are your current and future projects?

My day job is TV commercials and that takes up lots of my time. However, I am working on a promo for the charity/fashion organisation, Bottletop. I am also collaborating on another short film, and I have two feature film projects I am developing.

How do you feel about the lack of funding for film graduates, do you think this holds us back from developing promising film directors who don’t have access to finance?

I am kind of split with my answer here as technology has improved so much that even my iphone has good enough video to shoot a film on, so in that sense it is much easier to make stuff and therefore chances are more readily available. However,  the advent of word processing didn’t suddenly create loads of new great writers! I am so grateful for the years of apprenticeship that I had, and those years have made me the director I am. Without training and guidance the next generation won’t fulfil their potential.
Do you think film school is vital or do you think you can learn the craft through other avenues?

Well, the answer is I didn’t go to film school.

What’s your favourite part of the filmmaking process?

I like location finding and editing. I like the bits where I can take my time. I’m a methodical person. Shooting is a war zone. It affects you. On a shoot day I transform into a crazed maniac who’d sell my own grandmother for another 5 minutes of filming.
When you’re editing, are you quite ruthless with the material?

Yes. for sure. You learn you have to be.

Where do you want to be in 5years time?

Well, if the lottery win doesn’t come in, I hope I’m creating work interesting enough that you’ll still want to be interviewing me Von Von!

Interview by Von Von Lamunu

Shoreditch Slayer from simon levene on Vimeo.

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