David Oyelowo realizes his passion for filmmaking with Water Man

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Acting in films like The Butler by Selma and Lee Daniels, actor David Oyelowo discovered a new passion: directing. Oyelowo was inspired to step behind the camera after learning different nuances of the trade from respected directors like Ava DuVernay and Will Gluck. His desire to act and direct in the same movie grew even more after seeing the successful efforts of his friends Nate Parker in The Birth of a Nation and Joel Edgerton in The Gift, as well as Mel Gibson, who won an Oscar for Best Director for Braveheart. .

For years, Oyelowo has chosen their brains to feel confident enough to take a leap of their own. The actor’s first film, The Water Man, arrives in theaters Friday. The film was produced by Harpo Films with Oprah Winfrey as executive producer.

Oyelowo said he had learned to understand the theme of DuVernay’s film. He credits Gluck with teaching him the importance of a director capturing all the elements of a film: wardrobe, photography, editing – as well as the performance of each actor.

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“I kind of had my own film school working with several great directors,” said Oyelowo, who stars in the film with Rosario Dawson. “(Directing) came as a by-product of my acting career. I wanted to achieve because I have been around some of the best people in the world.

The Water Man tells the story of a hopeful boy named Gunner who seeks to save his gravely ill mother, played by Dawson. The boy and his friend venture into a remote forest in search of a mythical character, who Gunner says carries the secret of eternal life.

Oyelowo said he was drawn to the script because the story reminded him of his favorite fantasy movies like the ’80s classics, The Goonies and Gremlins.

“These movies have heavier themes where kids are always involved,” said Oyelowo, who plays Gunner’s dad, Amos. “This movie has that kind of endangered youth theme, which I loved growing up.”

Oyelowo said the driving force behind the film was Gunner, played by 13-year-old Lonnie Chavis, who stars in the hit NBC drama series This Is Us.

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Lonnie Chavis and David Oyelowo Lonnie Chavis, left, and David Oyelowo in a scene from The Water Man. (Films by Karen Ballard / RLJE via AP)

“It’s the power of sacrificial love,” Oyelowo said. “You have this child who is willing to risk anything to save his mother. You have this father who is ready to save his son. You see an imperfect family, but they have a love that I find perfect. They define sacrificial love. She is ill but she does not think of herself. She thinks about the relationship between her son and her husband.

After reading the script, Dawson said she had a connection to the character of Gunner, who has to deal with the mortality of her parents like her. The actor said he learned that his father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer shortly after landing the role of Mary, who battles leukemia in the film.

Dawson said she went through some rough times during filming as she looked after her father’s health. But she said her role gave her the opportunity to channel everything that happened in real life to help deliver a relatable story.

“I had to motivate myself to a force that just wasn’t there,” Dawson said. As her father began chemotherapy treatments, she sent him a photo of her bald character as a show of solidarity.

“It was recognizing the limits and making it a performance in a way that I think was important for me to portray with dignity,” she continued. “It’s such a vulnerable state of being that you’re so sick and really dependent on others.”

Dawson said Oyelowo – whose late father had battled cancer – helped her along the way. She said Oyelowo made things easier for herself and the rest of the team, calling him an accomplished actor and storyteller.

“He was clear about his vision and his tone,” she said. “We didn’t have a lot of time in the world, but it always felt like we had. It really allowed us to play and to find our moments, to find our breaks and our bursts of energy. It is the actor of such an actor.

Chavis said that Oyelowo had helped him get into Gunner’s emotional state.

“There was a scene where I had to climb this big log, and I was really scared of heights at the time,” Chavis recalls. “So Mr. David pulled me aside and told me a personal story about his life… something to draw from my own life. He was doing all of this for the love and passion he had for the film.

In return, Oyelowo said Dawson and Chavis made him look good as a director.

Oyelowo has said he wants to lead more projects, if he can juggle his busy acting career. He likes to mix reality and fantasy, but he is also passionate about telling African stories.

“I think there are just some amazing stories that aren’t sequels or remakes,” Oyelowo said. “In some ways, they’ve slept on Africa as a producer of quality stories and content. I really want to participate in these kinds of stories in a global presence. “

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