Bowen O’Brien, a 15-year-old filmmaker, took home two awards from HorrorFest in Kelowna Oct. 26. (En Queue Film)

Vernon teen wins Best Film in Kelowna HorrorFest

Bowen O’Brien and Brian Taylor’s Adulthood took home two awards from the Oct. 26 event

He may not have been allowed to attend the festival, but that didn’t stop Bowen O’Brien from delivering an acceptance speech.

O’Brien, a 15-year-old filmmaker and Vernon Community School student, went up to bat at Kelowna’s HorrorFest 10 — a celebration of Okanagan indie horror flicks brought to The Habitat Oct. 26 by the Okanagan Society of Independent Filmmaking — with his five-minute short Adulthood and took home Best Picture and Best Story awards.

Written and produced by Vernon filmmaker Brian Taylor of En Queue Film, Adulthood marks a step forward in O’Brien’s blossoming career as he took on the role of director and editor.

“HorrorFest is held in a 19-plus environment so Bowen was not allowed to attend, but I made a video call with him so that he could be there for the presentation of our film — they showed ours last — and he was even able to make an acceptance speech, with myself holding a microphone up to my phone,” Taylor chuckled. “The audience was surprised to learn that Adulthood was made by a 15-year-old.”

Related: Vernon actress up for Joey Award

The Taylor-O’Brien duo began when Taylor was filming a documentary about local artist Destanne Norris, Beneath the Painted Surface, and Taylor met O’Brien’s teacher Murray Sasges.

Taylor said Sasges planted the seed when he suggested Taylor ought to help O’Brien hone his interest in film. O’Brien met Taylor at Tim Horton’s near Beairsto Elementary, and Adulthood was born.

“We talked about what we like and we came to a point where we were like, ‘Let’s make a movie,’” Taylor said. “I went home and thought, what can I do with a bunch of kids?”

Adulthood is a dejected and comical take on the process of aging as kids look upon their maturation as becoming zombies.

Taylor gathered a cast, crew and home filming location and left the rest up to O’Brien.

“Bowen directed the entire production with only gentle suggestions from myself mostly about usage of time and moving on to the next thing,” Taylor said.

“I’m very used to coming up with a project myself,” O’Brien added. “I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But besides the fart joke, I had no problems with the script.”

While Taylor may have written the piece, he said the piece is channelled through O’Brien’s vision and in essence becomes an O’Brien film.

“It was definitely a really new process. It was really interesting,” O’Brien said. “I’ve always just been working the camera myself. For the first hour, I was like, ‘Wow. I have a whole cast and crew. How can I make this the best film?’”

After the 12-hour day of filming Aug. 25, O’Brien took the clips home and began the long and arduous editing process.

“I thought this was going to be easy; I love editing. It became very, very difficult,” O’Brien said of the estimated 50-hours of editing.

Related: Taylor, O’Brien review The First Purge

Prior to the collaboration with Taylor, O’Brien said his filmmaking largely consisted of homemade videos with his friends. He would grab his camera and whoever was available, go outside and see what happened.

“I just really enjoyed making them,” O’Brien said. “I found my passion for filmmaking.”

That love of film is the product of watching Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End when O’Brien was four-years-old.

Adulthood is currently before several film festivals. As such, it has not yet been released to the public, but Taylor hopes to have it screen locally soon.

Psyched on the end result and their two awards, Taylor and O’Brien have begun to work together on another film dubbed Fear and Love: everything you need to know in under a minute. That timeframe will also pose new challenges for O’Brien, he said.

“Because it’s a one-minute film, we need to know that shot is a four-second clip. It will be much more planned,” Taylor said.

En Queue Film is always looking for people interested in filmmaking, acting or behind the scenes, Taylor said. In particular, Taylor said they are seeking an actress aged 20-to-40 and a young girl aged five-to-eight.

After Fear and Love wraps, O’Brien said he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.

“I just want to keep making films and then win the Oscars and all that jazz,” O’Brien laughed. “This is definitely what I want to do when I’m older.”


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