From day one of my tenure on this site? I looked for new and upcoming voices in film. And I still find promising names who work hard, are gifted and charming and basically, have star power you may all see and love onscreen.
In that same spirit? This week, I present CLEO LEATHER. A real honour. The talent here is aesthetic and moral.
Cleo’s eye is down to the intense perception that comes with growing up outdoors, seeing things, angles, light, movement, nature, rock forms, sea, all elemental pictorial mathematics.
That creative drive; resourcefulness in energy and finding ways to do it all. It’s a zest for delivery and very few people have it. So it’s wonderful to watch in the next generation.
Q: In a nutshell. Why become a filmmaker?
A: Freedom. Expression. A vehicle of voice… these are all thing’s I am grateful for. I feel like it’s a bit cliché, but the constant learning- you truly never can be bored. You can be exhausted and overworked, but never bored. Also I can’t think of anything more gratifying than getting to create for a living.
Q: Describe a typical day in the life, if there is one?
A: There isn’t really once, but it looks like getting up early, juggling University work with professional Photographic and Video work (usually favouring my professional work over Uni…), going for a run- between 3-5k, eating with friends- cooking and sharing food is one of my favourite ways of spending time with people I care about.
I then tend to work late into the evening or I’ll go out to find some music to move to. Repeat.
Q: MA: That’s academic. Yet film is also a practical craft as much as art. So it’s science in a way and hard graft, right?
A: That’s right. Every time I pick up a camera, I am improving my ability to read, understand, manipulate light. My whole learning process has been trail and error, trying and problem solving. I think a good filmmaker has the logic and analytical skills of a scientific brain and the playful, intuitive nature of a creative.
Film is everything; colour, light, movement, foresight, composition. You are constantly switched on and have to be fully focused. It wouldn’t be a day on set without an obstacle or two that has to be overcome-its non-negotiable when people are paying for your services.
Q: These top franchises come to you, tomorrow and say ‘fix us’. What would YOU do? James Bond. Star Wars. DC. Marvel. And any others you care to mention..
A: James Bond is the only franchise, except Harry Potter, that I have been truly invested in. If Star Wars/Marvel,/DC came to me, I’d respectfully decline and tell them that I’m not ya girl. I’m not a huge fan of Sci-fi and/ or intense CGI and SFX with little storytelling…
However, if the James Bond franchise came to me and said ‘fix me’, I’d say, let’s go back to basics. I felt in the last movie that it was turning into an emotionless Hollywood production.
The thing I love about James Bond is the British-ness (if thats a word?)… I’d say, let’s make Bond sensual again, funny, British. For me, it’s lost its charm, its sexiness. And let’s keep Phoebe Waller-Bridge on the script!
Q: Fave films/books/music for playlists and any other relaxation methods?
A: My favourite films are Whiplash, Atonement, Good Time, A Bigger Splash, RocknRolla. But my guiltiest pleasure is any sort of reality tv… I love music, I love dancing.
I listen to all sorts but I have roots in :
Led Zepplin, The Rolling Stones, Grace Jones, Nina Simone, Groove Armada, The Doors, Robert Plant … I am loving a bit of Madonna, DJ Shadow, Thievery Corporation, Moby, The War On Drugs, The Chemical Brothers, Rhye, Little Dragon, Jadu Heart… the list goes on – my Spotify is cleoleather if anyone wants to stalk.
Q: Your Dad is a great poet. Any plans to feature his words on film? Or give him an acting part?
A: His poetry inspires me always, and I have created visual poems from his work before. I love incorporating poetry with cinema; they are made for each other. I will certainly continue to use poetry in my cinema- it’s who I am, its in my core, so I couldn’t not!
As for acting, I don’t doubt his potential and I’ve actually encouraged him to pursue it- never too old. He was in one of the first films I made, for my Level assessment, but maybe one day he’ll have a role in my proper films… he will certainly inspire my roles.
Q: Which filmmakers have inspired you the most?
A: Without realising, Chloe Zhao has actually really inspired me- I’ve watch a lot of her films and been obsessed with them and only recently realised they where all by her!
I am inspired by European cinema, particularly French. I am driven more by poetic aesthetic and use of sound/ music, rather than individuals in particular…
I used to really buy into particular filmmakers and put them on a pedestal, however, as I’ve grown older, and more aware of the shadows of the industry, I’ve learnt to separate the art from the artist.
A lot of my favourite films and artists have been ruined for me when I’ve learnt about who they actually are, or heard accusations etc… I believe that my new approach protects the magic and love of cinema for me… it is after all, a collaborative art.
Q: What tech items can you not live without and why?
A: Camera; my Canon AE-1, my Canon 77d, my 50mm lens, My laptop (Adobe Premiere and Lightroom and Spotify!) To capture imagery has become an extension of my being. I couldn’t not take photos/ video. And I’d be broken without music.
Q: Toughest life experience so far and what did it teach you? Equally, happiest time so far and why?
A: I think my experience of darkness has ultimately taught me the power of choice and the power of your mental. I think that healing process has been, arguably my happiest time.
It’s taught me resilience and forgiveness. I think it’s pretty hard to be happy when you can’t forgive. My happiest time has been this year, as a result of my choice to commit to sobriety. It has given me more than I hoped for.
Q: Where do see yourself in ten years?
A: In April, I went to Cannes, where the film festival preparations where being made. I made a promise to myself that in 5 years time I would be on the red carpet there… So in 10 years?
Who knows… life is limitless. I’d like to say, I’ll be on set, making a feature film somewhere that will hit the film festival circuit and global distribution.