20 for the 20th – Reel Career Profile Series: John B. Lowe
John B. Lowe is an actor, director and filmmaker and has been working in theatre, film and television for over 30 years. He has appeared in many films and TV shows and has written and directed several award-winning short films. He is currently developing new film projects for his company, Broccolo Creative. John B. is also an accomplished theatre actor and director. He has taught acting for theatre and film for many schools and professional arts organizations. John B. continues to train and coach professional actors for Broccolo Creative, specializing in Acting for The Camera.
When and how did you start in the media production industry?
I started my acting career as a theatre actor and supplemented that career as a voice over artist and on-camera host for industrial and educational videos. I developed an interest in film making and moved back to Vancouver in the late 1990s, where I did a lot of work as a film and TV actor. I also wrote and directed several short films and completed a few screenplays. Along the way, I discovered a talent and passion for teaching acting and was invited to Winnipeg to be the school director at Prairie Theatre Exchange. I’ve recently returned to freelance work and I feel lucky to be living in this vibrant film community for over a decade.
What area of the film industry do you work in now and why?
I’ve been an actor for over a hundred years and it’s still my main career. I also write and direct. I have several short film projects in various stages of production and I’m developing a few longer projects, which I hope to direct. I’m also an acting teacher and coach.
What has been a substantial change in the industry since you started?
Technology has become drastically cheaper and better so filmmaking is far more accessible to a wider variety of creators. The internet provides so many more avenues and platforms for content producers to find their audience. The old format restrictions and broadcast rules of radio and TV are constantly shifting and evolving. Filmmakers are able to adapt and re-invent media to suit their storytelling needs. So, now we’re seeing an eclectic assortment of original stories told by younger and diverse voices. For old dogs like me, the future of our industry is both scary and exciting, but I’m exhilarated and inspired by the seemingly infinite possibilities. I’m learning new tricks every day.
If you could give yourself advice today to yourself in the past, what would it be?
Don’t wait for opportunity to knock, open the door, go out and find it. If you can’t find it, make it. The world keeps changing and you’ll always be learning so keep on studying. Perfection is unachievable, but beauty is right there, in front of you.
How did taking FTM training affect your career?
Film Training Manitoba is an invaluable asset to both emerging and established Manitoba filmmakers. I‘ve participated in many FTM classes and workshops as a writer, filmmaker, producer and director. The instructors I met were industry professionals, so the training was current and relevant. I learned new skills and enhanced and updated old ones. My understanding of my industry was deepened and I met new colleagues and collaborators. The industry is constantly evolving and the ongoing training provided by FTM is crucial to our success.
What is advice you would give to someone starting off in the media production industry?
This is a collaborative industry and the ability to work effectively as part of a creative team is crucial to our success. The more you know about the industry and the significance of everyone’s job, the more effective and useful you will be. Try everything at least once and learn as much as you can about every department. Always be learning and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Some of my favourite rules; Show up. Do the work. Don’t be an asshole. Be kind. Be positive. ACTUALLY give a shit.
What are some of the films, TV series or even books that have inspired you?
I always struggle coming up with favourites lists. I’m a compulsive viewer and voracious reader. My taste in films, TV shows and books is eclectic and my mood dictates what I watch and read. I appreciate the highbrow and the lowbrow equally, but I dislike reverence and people who take themselves and their work too seriously. If it’s a well told story about interesting people that engages and entertains me it will inspire me to keep watching.
How about anything new you’ve been into?
I’m enjoying the access the Internet has given me to TV shows and films from around the world. There’s some great stuff coming out of Europe and Asia and Australia/New Zealand that isn’t broadcast on North American television. I am constantly binge watching UK TV dramas and comedies.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
I hope to continue making a living playing interesting roles, and creating original content as a writer and a director. I’d love to get a recurring role in a well-written TV series. I can’t imagine ever retiring. I want to create new work for myself and my colleagues for as long as I can.