Updated: Feb 1, 2020
Words by Carly Trinier
Lewis Gordon tells stories in a way other people cannot or choose not to. He is a champion for the little guy, a voice for the silenced, and one of the most sincere individuals you will ever have the chance to meet. He is passionate, but speaks so lightly and conversional that after a couple minutes it is as if you are transported into a conversion with an old friend. It is no wonder he excels in an industry that is based on human connection.
Documentary film is less flashy, less popular, and very underfunded, but that did not skew Lewis’ decision to try and make a name of himself in the industry. Despite detouring on his way to film, Lewis has always been interested in capturing the world in a way that is more multidimensional than the ways he was being told to capture it. From an early age he found solace in film.
“In school I found everything was very one dimensional. Like in math you have your problem and your pencil, but in film there were all these problems I had to solve. If I didn’t have a tripod, what could I use as a tripod instead? How does this work? How does this shot mix in with the story? [Film] was just so multifaceted and there were just so many things that I had to figure out,” he says about the process.
Despite working in production over the years, Lewis went to school for journalism where he was able to hone the skills necessary to be able to find and dive into the stories he wanted to tell. He speaks passionately about the importance of getting a story just right, not for him, but for the character.
“It’s about understanding [your characters] as human beings. The things that happen in their lives and the things they say. You need to portray them as best as possible, instead of putting your voice into it,” he says, “There have been docs where I’ve tried and I felt like I hadn’t portrayed the story well enough or I’ve forgotten my responsibility to the characters and I had to throw it in the trash, because it’s that important.”
Being a self-taught documentary film maker, he has crafted a unique style over his career and despite being recognized for his style, he speaks humbly about his work.
“Style is kind of luck in a way. I think a lot of creative decision are made because you have all these challenges, and some are made by lucky decisions. I think in terms of my style, it will develop over time and I won’t be conscious of it.”
He is one of those rare individuals that listens to understand rather than to respond and has the uncanny ability to draw out of a person the exact thing they would like to say, without the normal social pretence. Skills that are most often used by politicians and conmen to manipulate, Lewis uses them to expose rare and beautiful stories from people who often go unheard in our society.
One of those stories he shares in his documentary, More Than a Refugee; A heart-warming short documentary on Mohammed Al-Krad, a Syrian refugee who inspired his
community through wrestling. This piece won him the TVO Short Doc Contest in 2017.
Since then, he has worked with mentor Sean Menard, director of The Carter Effect, on projects for companies like Complex, shooting all over the world. Their most recent work for Complex, Sole Origins, is a brilliant take on the sneaker industry from around the globe.
In his latest work, Reina, Lewis documents the story of Canada’s first female football player to play on a men’s university team. The story and the way Lewis tells it is inspiring and leaves you thinking a little more of yourself and of the world in just a short four minutes.