We recently had the chance to see the final cut of Nick Denbeigh’s award winning short, SHILO’S WAR, winner of the 2020 Fresh Voices Short Script Competition. The short features outstanding production values and solid acting resulting in an engaging short about brotherhood, survival, and PTSD that is ultimately both moving and memorable.

We had already certified the script “Fresh”, but to see the finished product really blew us away. The film is superbly shot and edited, featuring incredibly cinematic locations and a wardrobe and make-up team that elevates the entire production.

We were so impressed on so many levels we had to sit down with Nick and find out how he pulled such an impressive production together, no less during a pandemic! Please makee sure you watch and support the film at

Congratulations Nick! This is a highly professionally shot production with a top level crew working behind the scenes. What is your background in film/ writing?

I have been acting and modeling for the last 10 years. Trained at many different acting studios and have studied as much as I can about the film industry. Reading Joseph Campbell's work, amongst the many other books on acting and writing, really inspired me to start creating my own scripts and projects. Over this course of time, I've really come to enjoy every aspect of filmmaking. 

And what about Shilo's War in particular. What is the inspiration for the film?

So much of the inspiration for this film comes from playing team sports my whole life. I played college football at Eastern Washington University and then a couple years in the Arena Leagues. I missed striving after a singular goal with a bunch of like-minded people. In LA and Hollywood specifically, it can be a very individualistic town. 

I had two thoughts when coming up with the original idea for the script and film. First, I'm trying to position myself as a lead action guy, so it was how can I do that while also showcasing my dramatic acting ability. The second thing was how can I put my heart on the page and capture that camaraderie that I missed so much. I believe soldiers were the answer to both of those thoughts. Plus, I've always wanted to be a Navy Seal and was just coming off shooting for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's marketing campaign. All that together just kind of made sense for this project.

4 Shilo

12 Shilo











How did you pull such in an impressive team together? 

It was a task pulling it all together. After the script was completed, I did extensive pre-production. Started with completing a storyboard with GI Joes, so I knew exactly the shots and look I wanted. However, I also had ultimate trust in my director Jela Okpara and DP Dan Watt. Jela is an excellent director who has a great eye and vast knowledge of filmmaking. I swear he’s one step away from being a household name. Dan's work speaks for itself. I couldn't have done it without them. They had the freedom to do anything they thought would enhance the film and make it better. We certainly accomplished our goal. 

10 Landscape Location Shilo

From that point I started the process of location scouting and found a beautiful spot that just had everything I was looking for. As people will see in the final product, it was an incredibly unique place. Due to how far away it was from civilization, I knew finding a crew willing to go on the journey with me was going to be difficult. But I just had faith that there were some special people who would see the value and want to do something on a larger scale for a short script. After a couple months of looking, the whole team ended up coming together in 2 days. Then that oh bleep moment hit me. We are “really” doing this!!

7 Shilo

Everything during shooting just went flawlessly. Much of the credit goes to my costars, Martin Cervantez, Jules Aurora and Nate Ohlson, as well as the rest of the team. They were all troopers and just down to do whatever needed to be done. We shot over the course of three days in the desert and one day back in the city. The planning was so tight that nothing was ever rushed, and we could take our time getting exactly the shots we wanted. The only issue we really had was a huge sandstorm with crazy wind the last day of shooting in the desert. My sound guy Lance Heruela did a heck of a job because the sound came out clean and crisp even under those harsh conditions. The storm actually added a great deal of atmosphere to those scenes. 

6 Shilo

With principal photography complete, I had to find my post production team to edit, build a score, ect. I found my editor Tana Plaengprawat first. She did a fantastic job going through all the footage and putting a tight cohesive story together. I sat with her a few days just pulling ideas together and seeing how we could make the best possible story. The colorist, Paul Bupte, was actually Tana's friend. He did an amazing job dialing it in and really doing justice to the actors and scenery. I then had an original score built by Aaron Dunn. He actually plays all the instruments live. So all the music you hear was built from scratch by him. I threw him some ideas of the composers I like and what I envisioned in certain moments, but he really took what I said and ran with it. He ultimately created an incredible and unique sound. I had a friend of mine, Stan Greene, mix the final audio to perfection. It just all turned out phenomenal.

11 Shilos War One SheetThe last step was getting a poster made for the film. My friend from acting classes husband, Ralph Centra, makes film posters. I gave him some of the assets and he came up with 3 or 4 designs. Ultimately the one I chose was perfect. Can't say enough about his work, I'm a huge fan. 

I'm very pleased with how everything turned out. I hope everyone else who views Shilo's War can appreciate not only the film but all the hard work that went into making it.  

What path did you take to raise the financing and get the film made? 

I looked at a ton of options for actually getting this film made but at the end of the day I just bet on myself. I fully financed this project on my own dime. It's an investment and a belief in myself that I was willing to take. Especially after getting great feedback in different script contests and actually winning the Fresh Voices contest, which is first class, it really validated the script for me and ultimately gave me all the confidence in the world to move forward with actually shooting the script. 

What are your plans with the finished film?

Right now the film is in some festivals. With the impact covid has had on the world and the festival circuit, I'm officially releasing the film online at:

I want to give everyone the opportunity to view it. 

What’s up next? What are you focusing on now?

I think if this pandemic has taught me anything, it's that you never know what's coming next. But I'm going to continue creating and working toward my goals while also enjoying the process. 

The main focus now is getting this film seen and also getting a feature film made. I think once people see what we could create with a small budget, just imagine what we could do with a decent budget for a feature. 

Where can people find you/ follow you?

You can find me on all social media platforms @nickdenbeigh, as well as my website at

Last, I just want to thank Joel and the Fresh Voices team for giving me the opportunity to explore and share my work. You guys opened a door and gave me confidence that this story was worth sharing and creating. For that, I'm so appreciative!