Unveiling the Heart of Cinema


An In-Depth Conversation with Louis Bennies, Autistic Filmmaker
by PML Bridgers – Elysian


In the world of filmmaking, stories have the power to transcend barriers and touch the hearts of audiences far and wide. One of our members, Louis Bennies, a visionary autistic filmmaker, has harnessed this power to shed light on the unique experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum. In an engaging and profound interview, Louis shares his personal journey from a young movie enthusiast to a filmmaker crafting narratives that resonate on a deeply emotional level. His short film Signals, which explores the intricate dance of emotions and connections, has garnered acclaim for its authenticity and heart. As he prepares to take Signals to new heights with a full-length feature, Louis Bennies invites us to glimpse into the heart of his creative process, the challenges and triumphs of an independent filmmaker, and his determination to foster understanding and awareness about autism through the captivating lens of cinema.


Elysian: Thank you for joining us, Louis. Let’s start by delving into your background and journey as a filmmaker. Can you share how you first got started in the world of filmmaking? Was it a childhood passion?

Louis Bennies: Absolutely, it’s a pleasure to be here. My journey into filmmaking started at a young age. I was around 6 years old when I started watching movies regularly. Films like Star Wars, Rocky, and Indiana Jones had a profound impact on me. I also became an avid collector of Blu-Rays. As I grew older, around 13, I began creating my own short films, often focusing on action genres that I was a big fan of at the time. Later on, I began studying films more deeply, and this led me to create my first professional short films like Signals and Feelings.


Elysian: Speaking of Signals, your short film about autism, what inspired you to create this film?

Louis Bennies: Well, I’m actually autistic myself, and I’ve always encountered the challenges that are depicted in the film. It struck me that I could use film as a medium to shed light on these struggles. I wanted to create a movie that would help people feel like they’re not alone in their experiences.


Elysian: Can you give us a brief overview of the plot and the themes explored in Signals?

Louis Bennies: Certainly. Signals follows the story of Lukas, an autistic student who falls in love with a classmate. To be with her, he must confront his fears and stand up for himself. The film explores themes of love, courage, and overcoming personal obstacles.


Elysian: The title ‘Signals’ seems intriguing. Could you explain its significance in relation to the story and whether it will also be the title of the full-length film?

Louis Bennies: Absolutely, Signals is all about those subtle signs we exchange during communication, especially during flirtatious interactions. It’s about interpreting those small gestures correctly. And yes, ‘Signals’ will indeed be the title for the full-length film as well. It encapsulates the heart of the story and its emotional nuances.


Elysian: It’s fascinating that you, as an autistic filmmaker, can bring your personal experiences into your work. Do you consider your autism to be an advantage in addressing this subject matter?  Is it your superpower?

Louis Bennies: My advantage? I don’t know. I mean, I can bring in my own experiences and viewpoints, so that’s a big win-win for me. And my superpower? Absolutely. Because of my autism I always had special interests. One of the biggest ones is Film. So yeah, it helped me a lot with becoming the person I am now.


Elysian: That’s a powerful perspective. Signals received a positive response upon its release. How did this reception impact your aspirations as a filmmaker?

Louis Bennies: I think it really motivated me to make more personal films. It’s important to make films that come from your heart, that speak from the very soul.


Elysian: As an autistic filmmaker, what challenges have you faced or are currently facing in the industry?

Louis Bennies: Communication and social interaction have been significant challenges for me. I often express myself differently and act in ways that can be hard for people to understand. However, being a filmmaker has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and engage more with others, which has been transformative.


Elysian: It’s great to see how your passion for filmmaking has helped you grow. Could you share your approach to casting the right actor for the main character in Signals?

Louis Bennies: Casting for the main character was crucial. I needed an actor who could authentically portray both the autistic side of the character and the vulnerable human side. It was about finding someone who could convey the full range of emotions the character experiences.


Elysian: The music and visuals in Signals are powerful tools for conveying emotions. Can you give us insight into your creative process while collaborating on these aspects?

Louis Bennies: Certainly. I work closely with a composer, and and I always select certain tracks that I want him to recompose. Together, we craft the right rhythm and melodies to enhance the storytelling. It’s about finding the balance to evoke the intended emotions.


Elysian: Moving on to your plans for a full-length version of Signals, could you share more about how you intend to expand the story?

Louis Bennies: The feature film will delve deeper into Julia’s character and her struggles. I want to portray her past experiences that impact her relationship with Lukas. Additionally, I aim to depict a more human and sympathetic side of Lukas and his parents, highlighting their understanding and support for him.


Elysian: You’ve initiated a crowdfunding campaign for the feature film. Why did you choose this route, and how do you envision utilizing the funds?

Louis Bennies: I really like the idea of people that are affected by autism supporting this project, making it more of a project that a larger group or community can stand behind. The funds raised would go towards crucial aspects such as cast and crew accommodations and travel, equipment rentals, filming locations, and post-production expenses.


Elysian: Independent filmmaking has its challenges and rewards. Could you share your insights into this aspect of the filmmaking process?

Louis Bennies: Independent filmmaking often means limited resources, which can be tough for attracting talent due to budget constraints. You have less money to put into your movies, so the actors as well as crew members can’t really be paid, which makes it hard to get the right people for your movie. But if you pull off something great with a limited amount of supplies, it really speaks for you and your talent.


Elysian: How do you plan to build upon the themes and messages explored in the short film to create a more in-depth narrative in the feature film?

Louis Bennies: As I pointed out before, I aim to portray a more vulnerable side of the subject matter. To gain a different perspective, I’m also involving people on the spectrum during the production process. This collaboration will provide valuable insights into directing the scenes effectively.


Elysian: What are your expectations and hopes for the feature film, both creatively and in terms of its impact on raising awareness about autism?

Louis Bennies: I think it will be a very wholesome film, that will be superior both technically and cinematically. Of course I hope to reach a lot of people, way more than before but also get to sell the movie to a streaming-service which would also help spread its important message.


Elysian: Filmmaking often involves collaboration with a team. Could you share some of your experiences working with your crew and cast during the making of Signals?

Louis Bennies: Working on Signals was challenging due to our limited team size, which led to some difficulties among the cast and crew. However, for the feature film, I believe I’ve assembled a team that truly understands and believes in the heart of the project.


Elysian: Are there any particular directors, filmmakers, or artists who have influenced your style or approach to storytelling?

Louis Bennies: A lot. I watch a lot of movies. I tend to get inspired as much as I can. I think Tony Scott is very underrated. And Frank Perry is a great filmmaker. They both make very bold decisions with their filmmaking styles.


Elysian: As a filmmaker, what do you believe is the unique power of cinema in addressing important societal issues like autism or neurodiversity on the whole?

Louis Bennies: Cinema is a large, powerful platform to promote positive messages and create understanding. However, it’s important to find a balance, making sure the film is not just an educational piece but also an engaging and entertaining story.


Elysian:  In addition to filmmaking, are there other creative mediums or projects you’re interested in exploring in the future?

Louis Bennies: I want to delve into music in the future. Last year I really got interested in audio and I love to listen to music, so maybe i will try to make some on my own. But that’s not really important to me right now.


Elysian: As we wrap up, what advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers, particularly those who want to create stories that shed light on neurodivergent experiences?

Louis Bennies: Tell your story. Talk about something you know and feel. Draw from your personal experiences and emotions. Avoid following the beaten path, and let your unique voice shine through.


Elysian: Thank you for sharing your insights, Louis. Lastly, could you share a memorable moment or behind-the-scenes anecdote from the making of Signals that reflects the heart of the project?

Louis Bennies: When I edited the final scene, I was surprised by how effective it was. And when i realized that other people felt the same, it made me very happy. I love to move people.


Elysian: Thank you, Louis, for this enlightening conversation. We look forward to seeing the impact of your work on both the filmmaking industry and raising awareness about autism. We would also like to encourage our readers to support your project by making a donation to your GoFundMe campagne at https://www.gofundme.com/f/signale

Louis Bennies: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure discussing my journey and aspirations with you.

Signals a film by Louis Bennies   

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