Brian Lawes is an American film director, writer and producer. He is known for “Lost
Kings” (2020), “What I Wish They Knew” and “Rock Paper Scissors” (2018). His award-
winning films have played all across the world, with notable premieres at Palm Springs
International ShortFest, HollyShorts Film Festival and Indy Shorts International Film
Festival. His Oscar Qualifying short film, “Lost Kings,” won the Jury Awards for Best U.S.
Narrative Short at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival and Best Short at the
Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival. After completing its 2022 Oscar
campaign, “Lost Kings” was signed for distribution through NITV and continues to tour the
world, expanding its global audience.
How did you get started in the film industry?
My initial love of film started as a child, watching movies from a very young age. In
elementary school, I got involved in theater and performed for several years in various
productions. My love of writing, cameras and film eventually led my performance
background to evolve into writing and directing my own work with friends in middle
school and high school.
Did you have any formal education or training related to the film industry before
No formal education; I would describe myself as self-taught. Writing and a natural
curiosity around performance and all the mechanics of making films drove me to learn
and absorb as much as possible when I was younger. I also started teaching myself to
edit at a young age, and that allowed me to practice pacing, tone and understanding
how to tell a visual story well.
I’ve also learned from so many talented creatives ahead of me in their career (some I’ve
never met who were in podcasts, books, Masterclasses) but also from personal
relationships in and around the film industry. Beyond that, I largely credit my learning
having come through the hands-on experience of making things over the years. I
couldn’t have gotten where I am today without people spending time to include me and
teach me when I was younger, but I also don’t think I’d be where I am today without the
trial and error of making my own films from a young age.
What are some of your most recent successes (credits or accolades) related to
your career in the industry?
My short film, “Lost Kings,” has had a wildly successful festival run that led to many
awards, an Oscar Qualification and a distribution deal that has taken the film all over
What has your career in the state’s film industry taught you?
People are everything. You don’t get very far going alone, and finding the right team for
the project is vital to find success.
What is the highlight of your career thus far?
Completing and sharing my Oscar-Qualifying short film, “Lost Kings.” It’s a proof of
concept for the feature adaptation I’m working on now. I’ve been able to share it all
around the world, and I’ve loved connecting with audiences who watch it all over. It’s
been a very important project to me for some time now, and the experiences and
relationships that have come from it have been life changing.
What is your favorite aspect of working in Oklahoma’s film and television
Constantly getting to meet new talented people, but also getting to work with the same
longtime friends many times over.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for someone starting their career in
Oklahoma’s film industry?
Getting unstuck from the ideation phase, and getting out there and making it happen
has always unlocked more for me than overthinking the project for a long time.
Certainly, get the story right on the page, and get the right team around it–– don’t rush
those two things. But overall, make sure you keep making stuff as often as you can. It’ll
open the next chapter of your career each time you do.
Are there any local film organizations, resources or events that have been
beneficial to you in your career?
I’m really grateful to deadCenter Film Festival for allowing me to share my work through
their programs, and introducing me to audiences and collaborators around the area.
The Oklahoma Film + Music Office has also been so helpful for my questions, and in my
searching for locations that the state has to offer.
What’s the one item you can’t live without on-set, and why?
I create a playbook of notes and all needed info for each production before I’m on set;
once there, I keep it by my side until the production is complete.
Would your career be impacted without the state’s film incentive program? If so,
I’m really thankful we have a state film incentive; it’s been my dream for some time to
make my first feature here in Oklahoma City with the help of the program. It’s also
exciting to imagine how this program might allow the state to be known as a spot that
allows for many new exciting films (both independent and studio) to become a reality in
the coming years.
Where do you see yourself – AND – Oklahoma’s film industry in the next five
In the next five years, I expect to see myself having completed my first feature film and
beginning to work on my next film project. I hope to see the Oklahoma film industry
develop more of a reputation for the creation of inventive, bold, artistically independent
films that audiences love.
What are you working on now or next?
Currently, we’re in the middle of financing the feature adaptation of my latest short film,
“Lost Kings.” Like many films, it’s been in the works for some time and I’m really excited
to see this film come to life and share it with the world. Also, I’m really grateful to have
been accepted into the 2024 Likewise Director’s Fellowship where they’re helping me
along the way in this process. There’s a lot about this story that’s unique to our
Oklahoma community, and we’re passionate about finding the right financial and
production partners to make this film happen.
Each featured individual or business is given the provided questions to answer in their own voice. Other than formatting and grammar, the answers are personal to each featured voice, and are not provided by the Oklahoma Film + Music Office.