Two stars are born: Lewis and Charlie’s filmmaking journey
21-year-old twins, Charlie and Lewis Smith, are making great progress towards their future careers in film – with a little help from Feros Care and the NDIA.
Charlie and Lewis were diagnosed with intellectual disabilities at a young age, and admit that they struggled with subjects such as maths, English and literacy at school.
But drama and acting has always caught their attention – and they say that when they left school, film was “staring us in the face” with what they were supposed to do next.
“We took up acting classes in 2021, then this program came up on my social media, featuring inclusive filmmaking with Bus Stop Films,” Lewis says.
Bus Stop Films is a not-for-profit organisation that uses filmmaking to raise the profile of people living with disability.
“The program was for anyone living on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disability. We thought, forget being scared, let’s go ahead and do it. Feel the fear but do it anyway.”
The twins interviewed with Bus Stop and were accepted, much to their excitement – ready to start accessing exclusive filmmaking opportunities and mentoring with industry professionals.
A little support from Feros Care and the NDIA
Charlie and Lewis worked with Feros Care in their local area of Sandy Creek, Adelaide to access NDIA funding. That funding paid for their first year with Bus Stop Films, and they’ve recently secured another round of funding which they will use for
another year of the program.
“We just gravitated towards Feros Care, they seem like a really good organisation,” the twins share. “Feros Care just care a little bit more, they really support people living with disability and it’s obviously worked for us.”
And when Feros Care collaborated with filmmaker Julian Neuhaus from Ironbark Films and Bus Stop Films to create season four of Fearless Films, it was the perfect opportunity for Charlie and Lewis to get involved in the project.
They were employed on a shoot with musician Hannah Smedley, a singer/songwriter who lives with ASD.
Each twin supported for one day of the shoot – the first ever set they’d worked on.
“We knew some terminology, but not all, and it was lots of learning in one day,” Lewis explains.
“You just take it all in, you absorb it all,” adds Charlie. “Learning about Hannah and her mum, they’ve been through so much in the last year or so – and seeing that story come to life was extraordinary. On my set day, it
was quite tearful hearing the story.”
Find the things that light you up
The Fearless filmmaking experience saw Charlie and Lewis attend the Adelaide premiere of Fearless films along with the Feros Care LAC Conference, and even participate in a panel discussion about their time spent on the film.
They credit the mentorship of Feros Care and Bus Stop Films with their newfound confidence in going out into the world and taking on new opportunities, even challenging ones such as public speaking.
“Our confidence has really grown so much,” Lewis says. “We’ve really found our passion and are ready to pursue filmmaking as a career.”
“Some of our life, we didn’t take on opportunities. We were a bit fearful of going out and getting new jobs or trying a new sport.
“But it was a very nurturing environment at Bus Stop, and we thought it could help us go forward. It gave us a wave of momentum, being on set, speaking in front of other people – all stuff we’ve never done before.”
Charlie has even found that filmmaking has extended his interests in ways that other media simply couldn’t.
“I really struggled with reading and writing in high school, never really found anything that could help me,” he says.
“One day I was just in class, thinking – what movies have I seen recently? Maybe I can read a script?”
Charlie’s favourite films are Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, so he started there. “I remember the first time I picked up the Dark Knight script, I read the whole thing in the whole day.”
“Anyone who’s struggling with reading and writing, I would say the same to them. Just find something that you’re interested in and passionate about – you’ll find that you read every day.”
The twins are also looking into applying for TAFE and doing a Cert III in Screen and Media.
“Our motto for this year is ‘go ahead and do it anyway’,” says Lewis. “We’re just interested taking every opportunity we can. Because every opportunity can lead to something else, other extraordinary things.”
One day, Charlie hopes to be a writer and director, inspiring people through his filmmaking and storytelling.
As for Lewis – he wants to be behind the camera, working alongside directors, and hopefully even building a production company with people with diversity to give opportunities to those who need them most.
And while the two of them would love to work on projects together, they’re also happy for opportunities to come to them as individuals – and they’re ready to support each other regardless of what comes through.
“The two of us can butt heads,” they laugh. “But we’re the best of mates and will be mates for life.”