This is the first film that we shot in our factory films series and yet has taken the longest to edit and has only seen the light of day after many many hours getting it just right. It is then, no doubt a special film on a special man. It is filled, however with real complexity, combining numerous levels and layers which had to have just the right balance to make it work.
After speaking to Natalia Maus (a friend from BUG) we decided that we would collaborate on a project or two together. Immediately she thought of Leon. Leon was a person that Natalia was managing and someone who she exclaimed had a stupendous amount of talent. However it could be difficult to get him on camera due to his reclusive nature and his apprehension in ‘documenting’ any of his work. I decided it would be best to meet and talk through the idea and how much care and attention we would give.
The best thing about Leon, is his truly engaging and passionate way of telling stories. He is articulate, knowledgeable but also doesn’t take himself seriously. He is a rebel, a classical music rebel, the antithesis of a stereotype. Beyond all else he truly was in love with what he did (even if it did drive him slightly mad on occasions) and also had total dedication to make each and every new note sound more unique than the last.
After having his blessing we set about coming to his humble home. What was striking when we arrived was this beautiful grand piano took up most of the space. This mixed with a maze of wires, art and raw materials certainly made Leon feel like the Willy Wonka of music! What a wonderful day we had however in his company.
As you will probably realize by now the creative ‘payoff’ is subservient to the characters ‘story’ in our factory films. Leon was particularly guarded about his feelings. By asking him spontaneous questions, some that delved deep into his professional and personal lives, it helped to bring out the ‘real’ Leon.
What amazes you more than anything else I hope is the sheer talent of the man. He states that he constantly strives for perfection something that he ‘never achieves’. He practices everyday for hours and hours, making a mental note of all tones and notes that are created. These are created by everyday objects, starting with Blu-Tak, screws, bolts, even soft toys (see the first shots). The sound made can only be then described as extraordinary. Let me just reiterate that this has no extra computer effects or jiggery-pokery. We didn’t edit anything together to make it sound cohesive. It’s just a ‘feel’ that Leon gets and suddenly we have some of the best sounding trance music you are ever likely to hear.
Why such talent? Hard work and determination that’s why! We thank Leon and Natalia for their times and for making us feel so welcome. Stick around to the end of films to see why all the preparation was worth it!
Gavin O'Brien // Director
Alex Lawrence // Director of Photography
Blake Byles // Camera Assistant
Simon Pearson // Editor
Stu Rolls // Audio Recording & Post-Production
Leon Michener // Music