If creating an indie film isn’t enough of a challenge as it is, and if adding cool special effects on a budget is still not hard enough, then there’s another route to make your film even more of a challenge. You could get a famous star to play the cameo.
Sound impossible? Not if you’re fortunate enough to be Colin Levy, the filmmaker behind the sci-fi short film SKYWATCH, which serves as a proof of concept and which features in a tiny role the illustrious Jude Law. Yes, that Jude Law.
Levy says the situation came about much like any other indie filmmaker’s endeavors do. He was a creative child, discovered photography, started editing films on his family’s iMac. Eventually, he fell into a career at Pixar, contributing to films like INSIDE OUT and FINDING DORY. But like other filmmakers, he dreamed of creating his own work.
SKYWATCH was born out of that desire—a labor of love that took six years to reach completion. Even the story came partly out of his craving to find time for his creativity.
“I began working on SKYWATCH in 2013,” Levy says. “At the time, I was working long hours and feeling frustrated with how little free time I could find to work on my own projects. I found myself fantasizing about a future where I no longer had to waste time at the grocery—where my fridge could basically restock itself. I just started doodling, sketching out ideas for an ideal system.”
The story of SKYWATCH highlights the dark side of automated near-future tech like delivery drones, and features a teenage hacker at its heart. “That teenage-focused story felt like a lot of my favorite movies mixed into one—and I knew I had to make it,” says Levy.
The opportunity to bring Jude Law into the film was a Hail Mary pass, in a way, but it worked. He even made a tongue-in-cheek YouTube video that pokes fun at the process, step by step, because he’s been asked so often how he managed to pull it all off.
“As you can imagine, it was an absolute dream come true to get to work with Jude Law for his brief cameo,” says Levy. “He did it as a complete favor, as a way to help elevate an aspiring filmmaker, and I could not be more grateful! He’s been the definition of generous. For someone like me, still trying to break into the film world, it means so much to have his support.”
The future of SKYWATCH is looking up, with Levy, his producer Andre Danylevich, and team working to see the concept developed further. “I really hope there will be more SKYWATCH to see in the future,” says Levy. “My co-writer Mike Sundy and I have been working for years on the feature script for SKYWATCH, and due to an opportunity that we were presented with, we are currently re-imagining it as a TV show. I feel really fortunate that the plan is so far working out. It’s a very exciting moment!”
Colin Levy is an award-winning independent filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Previously he worked at Pixar Animation Studios, where he contributed to seven projects including INSIDE OUT and FINDING DORY. He directed two animated shorts for the Blender Animation Studio in Amsterdam, which have accumulated over 10M views online. His personal short MY GRANDFATHER’S MEMORY BOOK was published as an Op-Doc by the New York Times in 2018.