Local Filmmaker in Focus: Liam Beazley

For today’s filmmaker in focus, Penny Post contributor Mirek Gosney catches up with Tilehurst based filmmaker Liam Beazley to discuss his exciting career so far and his short film ‘Locust’, shot entirely on location in Reading. Liam had films shortlisted by the Box Film Festival in Newbury when he was just a teenager, gaining him an interview with Berkshire Live (formerly Get Reading). Liam is also an alumnus of the BFI Film Academy and the University of Southampton where he studied Film. He currently works as a Creative Producer.

‘Locust’ tells the sombre tale of a lone wanderer who forms an unlikely bond with an insect in a desolate landscape, alienated from humanity. Sounds a lot like my lockdown experience. The surreal and gripping character study stars Liam’s older brother Carl, a well-known experimental artist in Reading. Read on below to see what Liam had to say.

How did you first get into filmmaking?

Early in my life, my circumstances changed. I spent a lot of time at home with no other forms of entertainment besides a small TV with a built-in DVD player. So, film became my main escape and outlet from very early on. Directors were my icons and analysing their work became an obsession of mine. I starved myself so I could use my lunch money to invest in a cheap camera. With that, I made the usual range of embarrassing videos and shorts with a friend just for fun. These were some of the best times I ever had. I’ve held onto that feeling and have kept chasing it ever since. For better or worse, I’ve just gotten a bit more serious about it now.

How did the idea for Locust come about? What were your inspirations?

Locust, I think, stemmed from my interest in the darker corners of independent cinema. At around eighteen-years-old, I started to develop a taste for the rawer, unfiltered oddities being produced by creatives including Harmony Korine, Lars von Trier, and an early Yorgos Lanthimos. These filmmakers inspired me to create something bleak and morally ambiguous. As nobody was watching me anyway, I felt I could take risks and make something odd and uncomfortable. At the time, I knew about this old decaying warehouse behind a Toys ‘R’ Us store. I started to imagine a man living there, isolated from human contact, who turns to an insect for company. The story kind of flowered from that.

A promotional image for 'Locust'

Were there any obstacles or creative challenges you encountered during the filming process, and how did you overcome these?

It goes without saying that a lot of Locust didn’t work. My technical abilities were incredibly limited. I didn’t appreciate the importance of sound and took no time to prepare this for the shoot. There was no real script either. I was working as a one-man crew who had convinced his brother to let his hair and beard grow out and stand in front of a camera. I had only a roughly mapped-out shot list, which again held back the finished product.

The pair of us hopped fences to shoot in this derelict private property, and so we spent most of the experience terrified. Still, the location was so incredible that we knew we had to try. The shoot did end prematurely when a man who it turned out was actually living there emerged from one of the empty rooms. We grabbed our kit and ran! Somehow, I managed to salvage a film from what we shot, albeit a shaky one.

First films are for learning and Locust was a massive turning point for me. From then on, I started to consider filmmaking more seriously. But in spite of everything, the film received a couple of festival screenings which I am very proud of. There must have been something worth seeing in there, despite my own reservations.

What’s next for you? Any exciting new projects lined up for the future?

I’ve recently been exploring animation, but I plan to return to creating live-action films. That is where my heart has always been. I’m currently making a 3D animated music video, which I’m excited to get out there. After that, I have a couple of shorts scheduled to get me back onset. One of them has been a passion project for a few years now. It features my own reflections on some of my personal experiences, so I intend to throw everything I have at it.

It’s time to get serious. You’re trapped on a desert island and can only bring one of the following two films with you. 2001: A Space Odyssey or Flushed Away. Which do you pick?

I’m taking 2001, but I feel like Le Frog has the kind of energy I’d need to get through it. Maybe my perfect desert island film is singing slugs facing their existence beyond the infinite.

Now, there’s a crossover I’d like to see. Thank you and best of luck for the future Liam. ‘Locust’ is currently available to view online at the following link: Locust (2017). I, for one, will be treating the spiders on my window sill with greater mercy after watching this.

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