The Love Lab: When Science and Art Collide
From wedding films to marine research, Lewa Pertl is making magic happen from her base in Tasmania
It’s rare that the person operating a wedding day drone doubles as a leading marine scientist. Enter Lewa Pertl. German born and Tasmanian raised, this soulful Hobartian distills light, energy and love with perfect balance into every wedding motion picture. Then, she returns to her science desk, working towards the wellbeing of Tasmania’s oyster industry.
When Lewa’s father saw the Devonport lighthouse, coming into Tasmania by ship, he knew it would be home for his family. Migrating from Germany in search of a better life for his wife and two children, the Pertl family indeed settled on the North West coast.
By grade 6, Lewa was winning art awards. By 18, she was venturing off to Israel with her brother to volunteer at the Baha’i World Centre. War broke out and rockets were shot from Lebanon. Despite the situation, stories of connectedness and love shone through the people she met. It was here that Lewa’s passion for storytelling took form. Her Israeli encounter allowed her to appreciate the safety and beauty of Tasmania, to which she later returned.
“I started studying medical research at the University of Tasmania to understand human behaviour. I’ve always been fascinated by the story of us,” explains Lewa. Later, she changed her degree to Marine Science.
“A lecturer shared the story of how microscopic algae created our atmosphere and traced it back to the beginning of existence – and because of that we’re alive today. I was captivated from that moment. I realised the opportunities in Tasmania for marine science were world class and this was the best place to base myself.”
Lewa received an honours degree with first class and was headhunted to do a PhD. Her thesis topic? Using satellite imagery to map the giant kelp across Tasmania over time. One of her main frustrations with science was the way it was communicated to the rest of the world – it was inaccessible. This fuelled her first film on raising awareness of Tasmania’s giant kelp decrease by 90 per cent since the 1950s.
Lewa attended the Australian Film, Television and Radio (AFTR) School in Sydney, studying business management and video production. However, she felt increasingly ‘compressed’ in her creativity, and after two years, it was time to return home. This is when her film business, The Love Lab, capturing the chemistry of love in motion was born. This work allowed her to blend art and science.
Lewa’s cinematography, most notably her wedding films, capture Tasmania in dramatic style. Eighty per cent of her clients are from interstate and overseas, choosing the island state as their wedding backdrop and Lewa as their local cinematographer.
“My first shoot was on Bruny Island by the lighthouse for a couple from Singapore. I stood there with my camera, overcome by this epic scene around me. I was seeing Tasmania through new eyes and it aligned with my true passion.”
“Coming back to Tasmania, I had space not just to survive but to thrive. In Hobart we have an amazing lifestyle, mild weather, affordable housing, all surrounded by epic environments you won’t find in any other capital city around Australia. Tasmania feels open and expansive, with limitless possibilities. People say you are who you surround yourself with. I’d say you become the environment you immerse yourself in.”
When Lewa isn’t capturing love’s chemistry, she’s a full-time scientist with Australian Seafood Industries. Aquaculture in Tasmania is one of the largest primary industries. In January 2016, Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) had a big impact on the industry. Although not harmful to humans, the syndrome decimates oysters. Lewa is part of the scientific selective breeding program to create POMS resistant oysters nationwide.
Lewa has regained her creative energy here in Tasmania and sees great opportunity to showcase her island home through her cinematic work. “There’s great power in media to share a destination widely, but when you apply a love story on top of this, it brings greater colours and life to the scene. This is where the magic happens.”