Sunday, 20 November 2011, 16:24
Yeah, 20th is good. No, I didn't get round to doing 2 Days Later
this year but a London company called Whirlygig Cinema screened
The Ukulele Killer at a chapel in Bethnal Green. That was fun.
Sounds crazy but can you give me a Title, Genre and Random Word?
I'll try and make a short film by the 20th.
Sunday, 20 November 2011, 16:37
It doesn't sound crazy at all. I'll call it The third eye (as I
had a dream about a band called The Third eye. I blame Lunachicks
music videos (see YouTube) genre: absurdist drama, and the random
Here's your film.
I suppose it's more 'experimental surreal horror' than
Anyway, it was good fun to make. Don't have nightmares.
It was the hat. Cardboard…..I thought you were joking when you said you had made it out of cardboard. I saw it as an homage to W.C. Fields, but found out later it wasn’t. You requested three words. A title: The Third Eye. Genre: Absurdist drama. Random word: Face. Your response was Beckettian.
Oh.. yuck…no..no …It’s not a word that can be passed off as an adjective.
…Let’s start again..Your response was something along the lines of Samuel Beckett, but you didn’t claim to be an expert.
Dominic: I don’t claim to be expert on Samuel Beckett, but I know he did a play called Krapp’s last Tape,’ which is a one-man show and there’s one of me, so I thought that’s convenient. I found out that he made a film in 1965 called ‘Film’ starring Buster Keaton. So the projectionist is just a slight nod to the play, and the hat is made in reference to Buster Keaton.
‘The Third Eye’ What was it? What is it?
Dominic: My Dad, a scientist told me that people in the 60s who had dropped a little too much acid would drill holes in their head in search of this concept of the third eye to awaken some dormant part of their brain seeking out intelligence.
I pictured ageing, slightly overweight, Grateful Dead fans with their tie-dye t-shirts straining against their girth going about their everyday lives, with a tiny hole still visible in their forehead.
ARE YOUR DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES SEPARATE FROM YOUR FILMS, OR ARE THEY INTERCONNECTED?
For a moment, you appeared bewildered. I repeated the question, but worded it a little differently:
Jennifer: Where does the dream/film/nightmare begin?
Dominic: The truth is I don’t use the terms dreams and nightmares to describe my films-they’re just me. Anything that seems unconventional in terms of a modern Hollywood story narrative to some people might seem dreamlike or nightmarish but it’s just me playing around with film. Obviously, with ‘The Third Eye,’ I was aware I was creating something that was weird, but it wasn’t based on a particular dream. The older I get the less dreams I have. Most of them are incredibly corny and Freudian. It doesn’t matter where I am, whether it’s school, back at my old house, at some point in the dream I will look down and realise I’m not wearing any trousers. It’s a classic anxiety dream.
Jennifer: You described ‘The Third Eye’ as Experimental Surreal Horror. It sounds like a mash-up of genres.
Dominic: To be honest I only described it as that because it wasn’t absurdist drama. I used the genre as a fuel for the ideas in the film. I was doing something I had never really done before, and it was Horror because it has a scene where a man drilled a hole in his own head. It wasn’t so much genres, I was just describing how I saw the film.
Genres…Genres, categorize, labels, (it’s all film to me) boxes……..Trapped
DO YOU THINK GENRES ARE NECESSARY? COULD YOU COME UP WITH A DIFFERENT GENRE?
Dominic: Here’s a genre for you. I’m thinking Japanese Anime mixed with a Spicy Mexican feel – Chimmy Changa Manga
or I’m thinking Dada
and film Noir and that would be Film Noir-Da. You could go on and on.
Jennifer: What would you like to see?
Dominic: Camp Australian film with songs that is shot in black and white but with very theatrical scenery that would be Luhrmann Expressionism.
Jennifer: You’ve really thought about his haven’t you.
Luhrmann..Luhrmann. Did he mean German instead of Luhrmann?
Wednesday, 28 December 2011, 18:10
Here are two crazy dream images. The Freudian Nightmare is just
a joke. I've never actually had a dream where I've been chased
by giant carrots.
The war dream is an actual memory. I had Third World War dreams
quite a lot as a child. Being brought up in a left-wing household
with older sisters who were members of CND made me all to aware of
When I was eight or nine I wrote letters to Ronald Reagan and Leonid
Brezhnev asking them to make friends. I don't think I sent one to
Thatcher. I must have assumed she was too cold-hearted to reason
with. I like to think I had a hand in ending the Cold War and
helping to keep the peace.
Happy New Year!
Dominic: Dream sequences are inherently fake, a pseudo concept.
Catching yourself, you stopped suddenly.
Dominic: Sorry that’s pretentious but the whole concept of a dream in cinema is a fake concept. Dreams are nothing like they are in cinema. Most people, when they tell you their dreams are already misinterpreting them and trying to make sense of them and put them in a particular order. I remember thinking once that a lot of my dreams happened from above
I made a mental note that a dream sequence with more camera angles would be much more realistic.
I still pursued dreams:
Jennifer: Have you seen Salvador Dalí’s dream sequence in ‘Spellbound’?
Dominic: When you’re talking about dreams and nightmares in film, I can’t relate to my own dreams and nightmares, but I really like Bunuel and those kinds of movies. He claimed those films were based on his dreams. I’m not sure I totally believe him because they make a little too much sense.
WHILST MAKING ‘MACHINE TIME’ COULD YOU SWITCH OFF OR WAS IT ALWAYS IN YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS?
Dominic: I’m not sure about the subconscious bit, but for most films I make I just start and keep going and don’t stop. ‘Machine Time’ and ‘The Third Eye’ were similar in as much as the whole process was simply to respond to the words. In ‘Machine Time’s’ case it was a story. I tried to respond to the ideas and not to second guess them or over think them or to judge one idea and say that’s not good but that one is. You just come up with everything, and you throw them all at the screen and afterwards work out what sticks.
Jennifer: I like the way you don’t over think. Do you think people analyze too much?
Dominic: That could be true but also people will just say look at my films and say what a pretentious load of old wank.
WHAT RESPONSE DO YOU GET WITH YOUR FILMS?
Dominic: Good and bad. My YouTube channel is a mixture of really odd things like recreational videos for friends, and family and then I started doing fringe theatre, and for some reason, it was a lot of American theatre by writers like David Mamet and John Patrick Shanley. People kept thinking I was trying to do an impression of Robert De Niro. I wasn’t. I was just trying to do an Italian American accent. So I thought as a joke and I think it was the same time I was at Channel Four, I thought I’d do an impression of De Niro and stick it on YouTube and see if I could create something viral. That was the idea initially. It didn’t work but the people who liked them just said, try De Niro does this and so on, but the one that eventually became viral was a De Niro Star Wars one which is awful, and I desperately want to take it off because it’s utter crap.
Jennifer: Is that Jar Jar Binks?
Dominic: No it’s another one. De Niro does Darth Vader, but it has suddenly gone to 90,000 hits, and I can’t bring myself to take it down. I get endless abuse from 14-year-old Americans saying (bratty, American accent) “You’re shit man. You sound more like Harvey Keitel than Robert De Niro”
HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT MAKING ‘MACHINE TIME’?
Dominic: With ‘Machine Time” and it’s a bit rude to say this but Mark Ravenhill had written the story that wasn’t entirely cinematic, but that was actually quite clever because it meant people had to think it through, and really had to come up with good ideas and some people I think made the mistake of simply reading out the story and trying to put images to it, and I just thought it doesn’t really work like that. I thought what was needed was something else with a narrative, and I stumbled across the idea of doing a bit from HG Wells ‘The Time Machine’ and I made that the narrative thrust of the movie and I just put in little bits of Mark Ravenhill’s story along the way. I think that’s why the movie worked.
Jennifer: It does work. I think it’s brilliant. I love it.
You thanked me. I was surprised by your modesty. Didn’t’ you expect me to say that.
Jennifer: As part of winning the Ravenhill Guardian Film competition you were mentored by Channel 4.
Dominic: Yeah. Whatever that means. I think I had about five meetings over four months and learned absolutely nothing. It was hugely
disappointing. Believe it or not, I was actually told by Channel 4 that winning the competition WAS the prize. Second prize was a Macbook Pro. I could have done with one of those.
Trust me to win a competition where second prize was ‘something’ and first prize was ‘nothing’. Mark Ravenhill has a genuinely creative aura about him, whereas most Channel 4 execs seemed dead behind the eyes.
DO YOUR IDEAS COME FROM DREAMS, MUSIC, BOOKS, ART OR EVERYDAY LIFE?
Unexpectedly, you laughed:
Dominic: That’s basically a variation of the question where do your ideas come from.
Yes. Yes, it is..and
Dominic: Everybody just absorbs information, whether it’s books or theatre and then when you’re working on a particular project those ideas start to brew and usually a combination of ideas comes out, a bit of theatre, and a bit of book you’ve read with bits of diced carrot mixed up in it.
Music…..music videos (promos)
Jennifer: When I watched the music promo ‘Animal,’ I kept seeing vivisection, even though it wasn’t implied, and the idea of thought control. What did you have in mind when you made it?
Dominic: I can’t remember. That video wasn’t a professional music promotion. It was just a guy who said I’ve written a song and can you put a video to it. There was no money involved and lyrically there was nothing in the song. If you listen to the song. It’s about nothing, so I’m left thinking all I can go on is the emotion…
Jennifer: Why monkeys
Dominic: Oh I just like monkeys. I also made that mask. I think I have always been a fan of the actors who played the apes in 2001 A Space Odyssey, which is why I put in a little joke at the end where he throws a drumstick up in the air.
Oh. In jokes. In on the joke, joke
Dominic: I put loads of those in my films
Jennifer: Nobody gets them. Do they? Weren’t there in-jokes in ‘Jack T’
Dominic: The actual reference in my film ‘Jack T’ was the Brian De Palma film, ‘Blow Out’, I read somewhere that John Travolta, up to a certain point, would only play characters in films whose initials were JT.
Jennifer: That might be a Scientology thing.
Dominic: Possibly. He is bonkers. One of my obsessions is sound. I like playing around with sound so the idea of a guy recording sound…And there’s a line at the end of the film when Travolta ends up using the actual sound of a murdered woman in a low-budget cheap horror film, we stole that line and stuck it at the end of ‘Jack T’, when the young boy gets smashed over the head with a hammer. The character at the end says “That’s a great scream.” I didn’t expect people to get it. I can’t remember the question.
Jennifer: Why monkeys
Dominic: I like monkeys
Jennifer: Did your friend give you a brief?
Dominic: No I couldn’t work to a brief.
Jennifer: You don’t strike me as the sort of person that could work to a brief.
Dominic: Ha ha. If someone gave me, a brief and said I want the video to be,.…Particularly, if it was a musician I’d think ‘what the fuck do you know about it.?’
Jennifer: You said you compose.
Dominic: Jack of all trades and master of none. Piano and drums. I’m not a classically trained pianist or a jazz drummer. I came from a theatre background and did acting. I used to write music for the theatre. I have always been fascinated by computer music but I’m not a huge fan of dance music. I don’t have the same kind of response to music videos as some people do.
Jennifer: That’s quite good isn’t it. You would look at it with fresh eyes or slightly cynical ones.
Dominic: Yeah everything with slightly cynical… I think you’re far more interested in contemporary music than I am.
Well..classic punk…some classic rock..
DID YOU WATCH ANY MUSIC VIDEOS BY ‘THE LUNACHICKS?’
That’s what sparked a dream about a band called ‘The Third Eye’ that looked quite psychedelic. It was like a glorious Technicolor alternative.
Dominic: I don’t listen to a lot of pop music, so I don’t watch a load of pop videos. I’m more of a Jazz person but I know from experience of making pop videos for people who if the lyrics to the song aren’t particularly interesting, then you just tend to work on images, and you tend to work on emotions and I think inherently that’s dreamlike.
Jennifer: What did you think of The Lunachicks videos?
Dominic: I saw one that was really fast cut, and it had a bit of the old fish-eye lens going on, and it looked like it was shot on old style vhs video.
Jennifer: They are……
Jennifer: are like an old school diy punk band
Dominic: Maybe I should listen to it a bit more. I did genuinely…..honestly.
Rifling through A4 paper, I glanced at typed questions, notes to self circled and highlighted close to hand. Meditation…Transcendental meditation… David Lynch
HAVE YOU EVER PRACTICED TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION? DAVID LYNCH IS A STRONG ADVOCATE, BUT SAYS HE NEVER MAKES HIS DREAMS INTO FILMS. THEY’RE COMPLETELY SEPARATE BUT SAID IT HELPS WITH CERTAIN PROJECTS. HAVE YOU EVER TRIED……
You looked at me strangely, and before I finished the sentence I started to laugh
Jennifer: (laughing) meditation?
Dominic: (laughs) No of course I haven’t you fucking nutter. When I made ‘The Third Eye’ I looked up the third eye and found out about Taoist Religious Philosophy, and the idea is that you have to meditate and control your breathing and it’s completely obsessed by the process and the process does take (as it says in the little monologue) 10-15 years before you eventually open up your third eye, but the thing is it doesn’t give you any indication of what you’re able to do once the third eye is open. If I had meditated for 10-15 years I’d want to be able to fly by the end of it.
Flying….Yogic flying…. No.
Dominic Currie Films @
His documentaries are thoughtful vignettes, a narrative of colour portraits that get to heart of telling a story.
Over a cup of tea I spoke to cinematographer and filmmaker Leo Leigh about video nasties, photography, and vivid dreams of burning hotels (his) and flying on a bike with Rick Wakeman (mine).
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
Leo: I’m making a film about an 81-year-old ping-pong veteran called Marty Reisman, who was an American Champion and British Champion, but he was never a world champion. He lives in New York and still hustles for money. He’s challenging a 17-year old, it’s the life and times but where he’s at now. He’s got an amazing collection of old suits he had made in Saville Row. He used to have money …Well, he used to have a lot more money than he does now. He’s an interesting character.
Jennifer: I can imagine.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE FILM ‘LOONY IN THE WOODS’
Leo: We made it in about 2006 and I co-wrote it with a friend of mine Leo Bill, who’s also in it. I directed and Dean Puckett the documentary filmmaker; he produced it, it’s an homage to all the video nasty films that were released in the 70s and 80s. I’ve got quite a large collection of old VHS horror films and because I’ve spent so much time watching them on VHS, that was the quality I wanted no matter how bad it was. I wanted the film with that look, so we shot the film and then downgraded it three or four times onto VHS.
Jennifer: A bit like Harmony Korine’s ‘Trash Humpers’
Leo: Yeah but before that
Jennifer: Yeah, you were there
Leo: I’ll have you know. Thank you very much and goodnight (laughs)
Jennifer: He stole it
Leo: Well making a film with that look has probably been done before and will be done again.
It’s kind of like a comedy horror and we are planning on releasing it online.
Jennifer: I saw some clips. Have you seen Sleepaway Camp?
Jennifer: That’s a 1980s one. Bruce Springsteen’s sister Pamela Springsteen is the serial killer in the second one. You mentioned that you had a large collection of Video Nasties it reminds me of the Comedian and Filmmaker Richard Sandling, who won an award for a stand-up routine based on his VHS collection.
Leo: Yeah, they’re great you can actually get a book called Video Nasties which has all the original covers scanned in, but the artwork, the tone of the film,music and that VHS look, all add to the kind of weirdness of the experience of watching it. The hiss of the VHS with used bits of how crappy it can look is part of the film, and it’s not just whacked onto VHS and then; however, it came out, we’ve actually picked specific moments that would be more downgraded than others in order for it to serve a purpose.
Jennifer: The colour is very saturated with blocks of colour.
Leo: We shot it then edited some of it, and converted it into NTSC and boosted the colours on a VT operating deck which a friend of mine was working. Some bits of the film are more downgraded than others depending on how it looked. It wasn’t just on a computer.
Jennifer: I like the way a lot of thought has gone into it
Leo: It’s not a case of just whacking it together.
Jennifer: Do you think you’ll make more feature films?
Leo: I have done a few feature-length documentaries but in terms of fiction and working with actors that’s all I want to do really..
Jennifer: It’s not all though is it
Leo: No, but I like making documentaries, but you fall into a documentary easier because it’s there it exists and it’s out there it’s more accessible.
Jennifer: Is it because they’re more marketable?
Leo: It’s not that it’s more marketable. I couldn’t really care about that…
Jennifer: Probably, the wrong word to use
Leo: It’s more to do with the fact that it exists out there and all you have to do is go with the camera to the place, and you can do it on a low budget with a small crew.
Jennifer: Can you do it on the hoof without any permits?
Leo: I don’t think i’ve ever really got a permit for anything I have ever done only within reason unless you film someone’s house you get a release. In America, it’s harder to film.
WHAT RESPONSE DO YOU GET WITH YOUR FILMS?
Leo: Well Swansea Love Story is probably the most interesting because of the subject matter it being about Heroin use in Swansea. When the film was released,and if you go onto Youtube, for example, and look at the comments it’s people that are very against the film and people that are for the film. In Swansea, itself there was a drug bust by the police which was a result of us making the film, and a lot of blame was put on us because of that.
Jennifer: How do you feel about that?
Leo: Well, it’s bollocks because it took us to go and show that was the problem in Swansea. The idea that the police were oblivious to any drug-taking place is ridiculous. The only reason I feel that they did it was because we had shone some light on it, and they felt embarrassed and had to do something. In America when it went online there, there were some interesting comments some people didn’t quite understand why we didn’t help the people in the film.Why did we make the film, and didn’t just help them? The answer to that is I personally feel that the film is helping because it gives an insight into what drug-taking is like and therefore, educates people.
Jennifer: Without preaching.
Leo: Yeah, when I made the film with Andy Capper (VBS TV) we just filmed what happened, and we didn’t want to preach.
Jennifer: You’re like a silent observer in a way
Leo: There are filmmakers that would’ve observed more, but we did kind of get involved with them and their lives. I’m not going to judge anybody for taking drugs. A lot of people will look down on somebody that takes heroin but won’t know the circumstances that they were faced with when they first took heroin. If you’re living in a town with unemployment and you’ve got nothing to do and you’re a young kid and somebody just says: “Have you tried this?”, and as a bit of escapism you’re going to do it.
WITH CORNELIUS AND AMY (SWANSEA LOVE STORY) DO YOU THINK YOU’LL REVISIT THAT STORY OR HAS IT BEEN TOLD?
I think of that documentary ‘Streetwise’ and the relationship that developed between Tiny and the photographer Mary Ellen Mark.
Leo: You can always revisit stuff like that because with people like Amy And Cornelius, their lives are always changing quite drastically. I’m never going to say no, but I do feel that story has been told that’s not to say we would never do it. A lot of people ask me that question.
Jennifer: Because they’re interesting characters, but it’s heartbreaking, especially when you hear Amy saying certain things that come out as she becomes more drunk.
Leo: It was hard to stomach at the time as you can imagine. It’s not easy to hear that.
HOW MANY HOURS OF FOOTAGE DO YOU USUALLY SHOT FOR A TEN-MINUTE DOCUMENTARY?
Leo: It varies. I made a short film that’s about ten to fifteen minutes called ‘The Sonic Manipulator” With him, I shot twenty hours maybe more.
Jennifer: Where do you begin? Where do you start?
Leo: With Claude, I’d go visit him and he’s a man with loads of ideas so when you film somebody like that it never ends and he’s constantly got something to say. He’s got ideas about music, about his career and all these inventions, and if you feel like you’ve got to put it down into fifteen minutes and characters like that always repeat themselves so you end up just using a variation of other bits. I shot a bit of film about the Pope when he came to London, and that was five hours of footage and that’s like a ten-minute film. If you go to an event it’s obviously going to be less footage because it’s only a day but if you’re spending a lot of time with somebody it’s not actually about the amount it’s just about the variation of things that they’re up to in order to tell the story so the amount is kind of irrelevant in a way.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR FILMS?
Leo: Truthful. Honest. I’ll always feel there’s a sense of humour in my films. Take Swansea, for example, if you tell somebody about that film, they’ll assume there’s no humour in it, and I imagine there are filmmakers that would’ve filmed it, and got footage of funny stuff, but wouldn’t put it in because they felt it would be disrespectful but, that to me is ridiculous.
Jennifer: That’s silly because that’s life isn’t it.
Leo: There’s always comical moments in the most tragic scenarios. Yeah, so truthful is my short answer.
DO YOU COMPOSE MUSIC?
Leo: Yeah, I make music with some friends of mine. We did some music for some short films, and I’ve made music of my own for a few films in the series that we shot in Tokyo one about the homeless community, and one about robotics. I wouldn’t describe myself as a composer.
Jennifer: What sort of music is it?
Leo: Banging Techno.
Leo: No, not really. I wish I could make banging techno but I’m too scared of it. How would I describe it? Each track would serve the film really so I couldn’t put a name to it.
Jennifer: Is it guitars?
Leo: Some of it’s samples. I’ve used a ukulele, an Irish drum.
Jennifer: Are you quite an expert on the ukulele then?
Leo: No, not really but they’re very simple tunes they’re not complicated in any way, they drive the film along. It doesn’t get in the way of what you’re looking at.
TALKING ABOUT MUSIC. WHAT WAS IT LIKE SHOOTING ‘SOFT FOCUS’, THE MUSIC TALK SHOW WITH IAN SVENONIUS FROM ‘NATION OF ULYSSES’?
Leo: Well that was the first time I worked for VBS TV and it was great, really fun. I met Andy Capper there, and I met a few others that worked there. We shot Mark E Smith from The Fall which I watch regularly because it is literally one of the funniest interviews ever. When we got there, we were filming in this hotel in Manchester, we set up four cameras, and we lit this little area, and he turns up, he wasn’t really pissed, but he obviously had a couple, and as soon as he got there, he ordered a few Stellas and you can see him drinking them, and he was just totally on point and the way he was talking.
Jennifer: He’s very cerebral.
Leo: He’s a funny guy and he starts laying into Jack Black and starts taking the piss out of the School of Rock (mimics Mark E Smith) “that fat fooking cunt. Jack Fooking Black” and we were all just behind the camera pissing ourselves laughing.
Jennifer: Is Ian Svenonius quite deadpan?
Leo: What’s great about Ian is he gets slightly fazed by it, but he’s funny he’s not like a rabbit in the headlights he kind of battles through it. The other really good one you should watch is him and Billy Childish.
Jennifer: That should be interesting.
Leo: They end up having this amazing conversation about the War. I’m a massive fan of Billy Childish and it was basically just holding a shot and sitting there listening to them. There were also people like Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream. It was great to listen and be part of filming some of these legends.
Jennifer: When you film something like that, how do you go about it?
Leo: We chat about the angles and how we want it to look and you kind of get into a rhythm with anything. The first day you’re working it out. Any first day of any shoot is always slightly dodgy, and there’s a lot of times where somebody will go back and reshoot the first day. When you get into that rhythm by the third or fourth day and we were shooting this for a few weeks you end up just getting into auto mode; and you know the angles and the lighting and each thing is different, but once you find your feet, and you get into what you’re trying to achieve it just works itself out.
TALKING ABOUT LIGHTING. IN A PAST INTERVEW, YOU SAID: “YOU LEARNT MORE ABOUT LIGHTING IN HALF AN HOUR WATCHING THE CINEMATOGRAPHER DICK POPE SHOOT A SCENE THAN IN THREE YEARS OF FILM SCHOOL.
WHAT IMPRESSION DID THAT LEAVE ON YOU?
Leo: When he lights it’s like state of the art, really sophisticated stuff, but he manages to make it look really natural and real. You get a lot of cinematographers that do very extreme lighting and they’re the ones that stand out
Jennifer: Like Roger Deakins.
Leo: Yeah people like him, but obviously, he’s regarded as one of the greats, but Dick has this ability, especially when you’re referring to the work he does with my Dad it’s very realistic, but at the same time has a mood to it. I’ve seen him light a few things the particular thing you were talking about was Vera Drake. Just watching him tweak and light and over a few hours watching him build, shoot a scene and use his technique which obviously, he has built up over the years. It’s almost like the penny drops when you see somebody that good, you think oh, ok that makes sense, and then you take that, and you adapt it and use that. He’ll constantly come over and say: “check this out” and he’ll actually want to teach you whilst you’re there, and shows you how stuff works “look at this camera, look at this lens, look at this, look how this works”. It’s the best education.
Jennifer: And he’s very enthusiastic.
Leo: He’s like the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, he’s done a lot of documentary stuff and that’s how he started, and he did a lot of undercover stuff. If you look at his CV, you can see that he’s a true master at what he does.
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF FILM SCHOOL?
Leo: It depends on the film school. The one I went to I thought it was pretty shit to be honest I’m not going to get into why I thought it was because it’s boring, but what’s good about education is apart from anything when you go somewhere like that you meet like-minded people, and you talk about film. You stick a load of young guys and girls in a room that are into film it’s going to be educational whether or not they actually pick up a camera or not. I had a good time there, a few of us formed a group called collective vision. If you were on a project, you could always call somebody in to do a bit of editing, a bit of sound, and you ended up just talking about film and watching film and that’s what it’s all about. We had some pretty funny raves when we were there. (laughing) That was good.
I LOVE THE RULE BRITANNIA SERIES ON VBS TV. IT DOCUMENTS PARTS OF THE BRITISH ISLES THAT ARE NEVER SEEN OTHER THAN IN A PATRONISING WAY. WHY DO YOU THINK IT HAS TAKEN SO LONG TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS?
Leo: Well, there are films that have been made that I would say, are up there if not far better than other films, we’ve made.
Jennifer: That’s years ago with filmmakers like Humphrey Jennings
Leo: Have you seen ‘Think of England’ by Martin Parr?
Jennifer: I’m in two minds about Martin Parr.
Leo: (looks at me questioningly) What’s that then?
Jennifer: Sometimes I look at his photos and feel that he looks down his nose or is quite judgmental about his subjects. That’s just my opinion.
Leo: Fair enough. Well, you’ll probably hate this then.
Jennifer: Oh I’ll watch it
Leo: (laughing) Why do you hate his guts so much? Look you’re going on record saying you hate his guts.
Leo: This interview is over. Nah, only joking.
Jennifer: No it’s just with some photographers when you see some of their shots there’s a certain image or feeling that comes across
Leo: Fair enough that’s interesting but I don’t know the answer to that question.
Jennifer: Well, I read that Spike Jonze said it would be a good idea if the stories in Vice magazine were made into films.
Leo: Yeah that’s one of the reasons why VBS exists. He’s very much involved in VBS, and he makes his own stuff. He made a thing called Spike Jonze spends Saturday with….. He did one with MIA.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FIVE DOCUMENTARIES?
Leo: There’s so many films. I tell you the ones, i’ve seen recently that I thought were brilliant. I saw a short film called ‘Lift’ and it’s so amazing it’s just one guy in a lift in a council block the whole time and it’s all the different characters coming in and out. A real character study.
Jennifer: It’s quite simple then.
Leo: It’s one of the best short documentaries i’ve seen in years. It was like a total breath of fresh air. I also saw a film called ‘All Day Strolling,
which is set in Georgia that’s a brilliant film and a really good documentary I saw at the London Film Festival recently is called ‘Last Days Here’ about a band called ‘Pentagram’ and it’s about the lead singer.
Jennifer: I have seen the pictures. He looks like Arthur Brown.
Leo: The mad world of Arthur Brown. He’s kind of like that and he smokes crack in his parent’s basement and thinks there’s lice living under his skin but in terms of what happens in the story it’s like a perfect documentary. It’s got the most amazing story arc, it just builds and you’ve got to watch that film (laughs)basically.
Jennifer: It sounds incredible.
Leo: There’s another film. You’ve probably seen it. It’s pretty famous. Paradise Lost.
Jennifer: Is that about the three friends? I’ve never seen it but I’ve always wanted to.
Leo: You can watch it on Youtube
Jennifer: They’re Metallica fans.
Leo: Yeah. Another filmmaker you should interview called Dean Puckett, he told me about that film, and I watched it the other day. It’s really good.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE PHOTOGRAPHERS? WHAT ELSE INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE FILM?
Leo: There’s so many but I guess one that I will always go back to is, and I’ve been looking at her photographs since I was a little kid is Diane Arbus because we had a book on our shelf in the living room, and I discovered this, and I literally became obsessed with these images, and I think it’s something to do with the characters,
they’re so unusual and the photographs but there’s something almost ordinary, it’s like they’re so comfortable with the situation. It really looks like they’re being themselves, I think that’s down to the fact that Diane Arbus had the ability to communicate to people in a way that brought something out in them. I went to this huge exhibition of hers at the V&A and I used to have this dream about a hotel that was burning and I had it like two or three times, it was really weird the hotel would be burning, and I would be inside the hotel on some stairs, and then we went into this exhibition and the first thing on this wall was a dream she’d written down it was literally the first wall in the whole of the exhibition, and it described this hotel that was on fire. I thought it was pretty weird.
Jennifer: Oh my god that was a bit odd.
Leo: It was a bit odd. So the next day I burnt down a hotel and I….(half smile/half serious)
Jennifer: Oh dear (laughs)
Leo: No. I just thought it was weird. It sounds a bit freaky. What do you think about that? You look a bit scared.
Jennifer: No. No. I just think you’re bloody mad (laughing)
Leo: Why…Why I’m I mad? It’s only a hotel burning. You tell me one weird dream you’ve had.
Jennifer: Oh well
Leo: You’ve got to put this in. If you don’t put this in i’ll be really upset
Jennifer: It’s not weird it was fantastic. You know Rick Wakeman
Jennifer: I was reading an interview with his ex-wife Nina Carter….Well, I read The Daily Mail but only for a good laugh.
He looks slightly aghast
Leo: Yeah a great laugh.
Jennifer: I read it online with the comments’ page. No…No I’m not a purist I read most of the papers from The Sun to The Telegraph just to get ….
Jennifer: Ha Ha. Anyway this interview. I read it then forgot about it, a couple of days later I had this dream. Rick Wakeman took me off to his castle, and we were on these bikes, we were going over London, but it was like that London in Stephen Spielberg’s ‘Hook’, the red telephone boxes, ridiculous doddery, old men, and we end up flying in the sky
Leo: Flying in the sky
Jennifer: My Mum was waving to me but when we got to his castle, it was like a semi-detached house inside. It was really disappointing, and that was it.
Jennifer: Ha but it was really good because up until then I loved the feeling of the dream.
Leo: pretty crazy eh.
Jennifer: I’m not a Rick Wakeman fan but I knew where it came in because I read the interview about her days living in a castle on the Isle of Man. Odd but it was good.
Leo: We’re both weirdos
Jennifer: Ha ha. Speak for yourself.
Leo: So..Anyway, her photographs to me are amazing. They just tap into the freaks and geeks and underbelly of New York and they’re beautiful to look at.
Jennifer: Did you see the film with Nicole Kidman? I never saw it.
Leo: I don’t really want to watch that.
THERE’S SO MANY FILM FORMATS OUT THERE SUCH AS SUPER 8, 16 MM, DIGITAL, ETC. WHAT ARE YOU INTERESTED IN?
Leo: All three. What one would I work on? I normally work on digital because it’s accessible but I’d love to shoot on 16 mm I’d love to shoot on 35 mm but I’m not a format snob or anything.
ONE LAST QUESTION. WHAT QUESTIONS ARE YOU NEVER ASKED ABOUT FILM?
Leo: The thing about that question is there’s probably an affinity amount of answers.
Jennifer: Give me a few.
Leo: (laughs) Oh ok. You got all day then have you? Er….I could just say anything.
Jennifer: You could say something really banal. Something about the catering or something
Leo: Oh I see you mean like that.
Jennifer: No, not like that. It could be anything.
Leo: I’m always asked about the catering. Catering is the best bit about filmmaking.
Jennifer: Ha Ha
Leo: Is there a good caterer? Oh I don’t know.
Jennifer: Ok Leo. We’ll leave it there.
Humphrey Jennings @http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/453623/