Themes of social justice and empowering the disenfranchised highlight the film career of C. Thomas Lewis.
Working with School of Liberal Arts faculty member Kyle Minor, he received a grant from the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute in 2017 for his current project, “Creating Films through Community Engagement to Address the Opioid/HIV Crisis in Austin, Indiana,” which is in production. Lewis hopes to present the films—including a documentary, and narratives made with Hoosiers battling these problems—in communities throughout the state.
In 2015 he received both an IU New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities grant and an IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute grant for his far-reaching project, “Participatory Filmmaking to Confront HIV Stigma.” That summer, he traveled to Kenya to shoot a series of short narrative films. For these films, he designed a participatory filmmaking model bringing together many stakeholders—including patients, clinicians, counselors, students, and professors in the United States and Kenya—to determine many aspects of the films and contribute to their creation.
These films have screened at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis and the Africa International Film Festival in Lagos, Nigeria. They are available at hiv-films.org along with films he made in Kenya in 2013. The health partnership AMPATH, through its network of clinics throughout western Kenya, uses Thomas’s films in counseling and community outreach efforts.
Prior to his recent filmmaking in Kenya, Thomas created two ambitious video exhibitions in Indianapolis: “Better or Worse?” (2012) and “From Now On” (2013), which used new video-mapping technology to create immersive multi-projector gallery installations.
In 2013, Thomas was a co-founder of the nonprofit Word on the Street Inc., creator of The Cool Bus, which upcycles books to young readers in underserved communities of Indianapolis.
Lewis received his M.F.A. in film from CalArts in 1993, where he studied with filmmakers James Benning, Thom Andersen, and Betzy Bromberg. He subsequently worked professionally in video and film production in Los Angeles for sixteen years. From 2001 to 2009, he produced DVD bonus materials for the Harry Potter film series among other major motion pictures. In 2005, Thomas was the cinematographer for the motion picture “Viva” directed by Ann Biller, and he completed “Through Corridors and Factories,” a short film about post-colonialism in Hawaii that screened in festivals around the world. Other earlier works include “Got Land” (2008), a film about time, space and development in the American West, and “Of Fire and Water” (2009), a narrative film set in a dystopic future.
NEWM N353 Intermediate Digital Video
NEWM N354 Directorial Analysis, Production, and RAW Workflow
NEWM N357 Digital Effects
NEWM N456 Digital Cinema
IUPUI’s own C. Thomas Lewis and Carole McAteer, from the schools of informatics and medicine, respectively, traveled to Los Angeles on Oct. 7-9 to present their HIV-stigma film at the Awareness Film Festival. They represented IUPUI at the festival with a short film called “Michael,” which depicts the life of a Kenyan adolescent living with HIV. After Michael’s father neglects to take him to get medicine, Michael must find the courage to take responsibility for his own health.