Five Questions with Filmmaker Augustus Bernstein

The-Unstoppable-Billy-Greenwood---webAugustus Bernstein was born and raised in Los Angeles. He majored in Cinema Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is 22 years old. “The Unstoppable Billy Greenwood” is his directorial debut. Bernstein’s film, The Unstoppable Billy Greenwood, will be at the GI Film Festival.

Where are you from and what is your film background?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. Growing up around the film industry of Hollywood, I was inspired to become a Cinema Studies major at the University of Pennsylvania. While studying in school, a family friend – who was a Marine – described part of his training which was the preparation to possibly be called to be a part of the Casualty Notification Unit. This immediately intrigued me… not just as a storyteller, but also as a young man. I couldn’t imagine telling a stranger that their child had been lost. I couldn’t imagine describing the loss to the parents of someone that may have had the same hopes and dreams as myself. Faced with this inability to fully comprehend such a situation, “The Unstoppable Billy Greenwood” arose, and I began the journey of making my first short film at 21 years old.

Who are your biggest influences in film and why?

My biggest influences in film are Robert Altman, Clint Eastwood, and Mike Nichols.

What was the hardest part about getting this film made?

I felt too young and inexperienced to tell such a serious, dramatic story. How could I possibly represent the military and the tragedy of “The Unstoppable Billy Greenwood”? I don’t know loss like the characters in this story do… I don’t know military service like the characters in this story do… I don’t know fatherhood like the parents in this story do. The hardest part about getting this film made was my own exploration into a world that was very foreign to me. It ended up being an incredible exploration — a learning experience that has changed the person I am today.

What do you want viewers to take away with them after watching your film?

I think “The Unstoppable Billy Greenwood” reveals life’s fragility — a fragility that is sometimes not understood until we lose someone we love or bear witness to the loss of another.

What is a fun fact about you that would surprise people?

I’m in love with filmmaking and going to the movies… but I really don’t like popcorn.

The Unstoppable Billy Greenwood, directed by Augustus Bernstein, is playing at Angelika on May 24, 2015. Click here for tickets.