Part of what makes our work very exciting is the ability to interview talented creatives who are following their passion and bringing exciting and inventive projects to life. One such individual is Leon Mitchell of Cinalight; who is not only a fine director and producer but also an innate artist. In anticipation of his next release, The Lady From The Sea, we sat down with Leon to discuss his journey and all things film.
The Journey Thus Far
Leon: Creativity has been a life long journey for me, something I can make sense of and where my world seems normal. Although It’s taken many shapes and forms over the years, from the successes to the near misses to the pick up and dust yourself off’s! But the passion to create something from nothing still inspires me. I have always been a big film fan, from a young age, I grew up watching the Steven Spielberg Classics, I wanted to be a Goonie and wished I had a time machine to go Back to the Future, my childhood was full of daydreams of the big screen and the “What if’s”. I fell in love with the 80’s music and film culture and have been hooked ever since.
I started making short films in school, remember the old VHS Camcorders? I started filming friends at skate parks and playing basketball. I was always driven artistically and knew I wanted to create my own content, that was my initial inspiration looking back, having the freedom to do something unique. Actual directing came later when I started working on pop videos and across the music industry. From there it was a natural progression into film. here I realised the rules are meant to be broken, the magic of the mind can roam free and capture it visually, I love that!
The Many Sources of Inspiration
Leon: I try to look at the film from an audience perspective, does the story make sense to them and can they connect to it in some way. I also use a lot of music, I listen whilst thinking about scenes from the script, shots and emotions. I visualise how I want it to look, sound and feel. So I can then connect these feelings and dynamics into the directing. I also think about poetry and how words and meanings can be used creativity. I did this a lot on my latest film “The Lady from the Sea” a Norwegian play adaption written by Henrik Ibsen in 1809.
An Usual Day in Leon’s Life
Leon: My brain never stops creating, It’s like a natural process for me to look at the world around me and try to make sense of it through creativity. I have an idea every hour, but I filter them out and hold on to the best ones, or the ideas that I connect with the most, if it touches my emotions or inspires me then i look deeper into it. These days I try to work with ideas with depth and purpose, of course entertaining, but with meaning. I guess this is also a reflection of the person I am these days, or the person I am growing to be.
The Changing Film Scene
Leon: I still love the cinema, it’s the experience that does it for me. The smell of the popcorn when you arrive, excited to see the movie on the big screen, you can’t beat that.
But, I do I think the film scene has been changed already for many years now and will continue to do so, just like downloads changed the music industry. Film content is now everywhere and on demand on multiple platforms whenever you want it, personally I love this and I love the quality and having so many options. Sometimes I spend more time browsing than watching. I remember many years ago I was at the BBC and I learned about the BBC iPlayer. At the time it was a new platform to be launched, I remember thinking to myself, this really is the beginning of the end, but in a good way.
I think the digital realm has changed everything about film, the way we watch it, the way we make it and the way we interact with it. Can you actually remember when you had 4 channels only and everything was perfect and programmed, you tuned in and watched the Simpsons on Sky 1 once a week! I also love the rough and ready online content and the more edgy film making, kids these days are fantastic editors of content, as they are growing up doing it every day on their smart phones and iPads, it’s fun to see.
One area I would like to see stay transparent and open is the major platforms continuing to give independent and major films a good platform to release content. At the moment everything is becoming an original or an in-house production. I understand why, but it also creates a monopoly and takes away the young film makers prospects for distribution. It’s hard enough as it is for them, so with the likes of Netflix and Amazon dominating the market, they have to settle for lesser platforms, if any at all, meaning great films never see the light of day, lets be honest. Maybe Netflix should have a dedicated “Indie” platform.
5 Years From Now
Leon: Surrounded by the ones I love with that feeling of inner peace and stability. And of course always chasing the dream.
Follow Cinalight: @cinalight