CRAFT: PORTFOLIO - Simon Levene

Simon Levene got his career off the ground by going to Los Angeles to put a test reel together. Having started as a runner at BFCS at the end of the 80s, where he worked with the directors, Bob Brooks and Graham Rose, he trained as an editor. However, he decided to head for the west coast after being offered a job cutting commercials by Hank Corwin, who had edited the feature film, Natural Born Killers, at Lost Planet, his production company.

Simon Levene got his career off the ground by going to Los Angeles

to put a test reel together. Having started as a runner at BFCS at the

end of the 80s, where he worked with the directors, Bob Brooks and

Graham Rose, he trained as an editor. However, he decided to head for

the west coast after being offered a job cutting commercials by Hank

Corwin, who had edited the feature film, Natural Born Killers, at Lost

Planet, his production company.



’I went to America because I felt it would be easier to make the

transition into directing from film editing over there, but I always

wanted to come back to London. Although there are a lot of good comedy

scripts in the US, the advertising is better here and there is generally

a higher standard of scripts,’ he says.



Having cut his teeth in directing, Levene returned to the UK and hawked

his reel round various production companies before being snapped up by

Redwing, where he stayed for a year. Redwing shut down, and Levene

joined his current home, Rose Hackney Barber, in 1995.



His reel - which now includes spots for Nissan Micra (featuring a

collection of men who come to a sticky end because they didn’t ask

before they borrowed it), Virgin Direct, Jiffi Condoms, Toyota Starlet

and Umbro - displays a variety of skills, but he clearly has a strong

eye for visual comedy and getting good character performances out of his

actors.



’I probably have more of an appreciation of comedy, but I’ve tried to

make my reel as varied as possible. I’ve had a policy of turning down

about 90 per cent of scripts over the past few years because it is

better to give your all to the ads you really want to do,’ he says. ’I’d

rather do six to eight jobs a year than churn out lots of average work

and take the money. The money isn’t important to me.’ Levene is also

keen to credit Simon Cooper, his producer at Rose Hackney.



’Directors never mention their producers but, given that budgets are so

tight now, it is crucial to have a good producer and Simon is

brilliant,’ he says, gallantly.



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