Filmmakers Interview

Leonidas Stanescu

Born on January 25th 1974 in Schorndorf, Germany from Romanian immigrants is a Romanian-Spanish actor based in Singapore. Despite his German birthplace and his Spanish nationality, his Romanian blood , from Ploiesti (Prahova), pushes him to use his heritage in some films, the way he found to express himself. His passion for acting manifested at childhood times where he was memorising entire dialogues from his favourite movies. He did some theatre in high school but he won’t be active again until encouraged and supported by family and friends decided to start acting at the age of 42. Within 2 years he had supporting roles in short films, stage play and TVC and one lead role in a feature film. But being a non-local ethnicity makes it hard to get significant roles in film, drama or even commercials. So he started to explore scriptwriting and film editing as well as music jamming. He started learning to produce his own projects with extremely limited budget having a green screen, a cell phone for filming and editing, a tablet for scriptwriting and a creative mind.
His first recognition as film maker came with the first official selection for his “Dark Dawn in Tokyo” in 2018.
Towards the end of 2018 came his debut in Television as a major supporting role for the TV series Kultus, aired on Mediacorp Suria in 2019. Since then he continued acting and producing short films and acting in TV series

We had the great pleasure of interviewing him for  the July 2020 Edition

Hello Leonidas and thank you for granting us this interview,

[MIS]The first question that comes to mind is; from different kinds of jobs to acting and then directing, What made you pursue film making?

[Leonidas] Since kid I love cinema. I remember memorizing entire dialogues, including foreign films in their original language.

[MIS]Knowing that your first short film “Dark Dawn in Tokyo” was produced entirely with a cellphone and was selected in many International Festivals. Do you believe that filmmaking isn’t about heavy and expensive equipment?

[Leonidas] I would say it depends on many factors such as budget and time in my case. If you have the heart, if you love, if you really love the craft to the point you feel empty the day you didn’t touch it, then you will be able to come out with a decent product. this from an indie film perspective.  On the other hand, if you are working professionally in the film industry then  you will definitely need heavy gears.

[MIS]What roadblocks did you face when you were starting out?

[Leonidas] [smiling] I didn’t go to film school nor acting courses. In fact my first intention was never to be a filmmaker. my biggest passion is acting. But my geographical location [Singapore] is not very favorable to get acting parts as often as local ethnicities. it can easily pass one whole year to get a recurring role in a local TV series [which would keep me filming for 10-15 days spread during 2 months]. So, in order to keep practicing i decided to make my own films. and here comes to first roadblock, the ignorance. From every set I learnt something, how to write a script, break it down, planning the shooting for the green screen, how to prepare a green screen filming set, how to edit etc…the second roadblock is the most general, the budget… [beat]… with a job that just pays my bills [and jobless in this precise moment] i have to come out with stories that require no budget, which means film in my green room stories where I can portray double roles. And that’s challenging.

[MIS]Why do you choose to work on your films on your own and with no or small budget as you say?

[Leonidas] lack of budget, unknown in the local market, extremely poor negotiation skills… you name it

[MIS]You often use a green screen to replace the locations in your movies, can you tell us more why do you choose such a method? 

[Leonidas] The green screen is a very good tool to use when you cannot access a location. with the green screen I can be in Japan, under water, in some research facilities, in an empty restaurant, in a space ship, i can have a twin brother or i can insert myself inside a painting or a picture creating space and depth… is the sum of infinite possibilities

[MIS]From acting to directing, where do you find your comfort zone?

[Leonidas] I don’t allow myself to be part of a comfort zone…that would limit the challenges and the challenge is what i always look for in my next project. i love every part of the process except one, introducing subtitles. [big smile]

[MIS]From where do you get inspired when you are writing your scripts?

[Leonidas] my inspiration has a large variety of sources, it could a song, a tune, someone, some situation, another film, a dream, the weather, even my former workplace, a specific sound like a sonar which inspired me for Under Deep Waters… more important than what is where i get inspired… i must be on a terrace, open air, with the sound of birds and people around me with a cup of coffee beside me in the morning.

[MIS]What advice can you give to people wanting to get into the Indie Filmmaking?

[Leonidas] Do it only if you love it from the bottom of your heart. only the passion will make you a better version of yourself.

[MIS] What would you change in a movie you produced that you believe would make it better?

[Leonidas] It can be anything…portrayal, background, music, color grading. and is interesting that you ask because it just happened with Dark Dawn in Tokyo precisely. this film was produced in 2018. i worked hard in the script and portrayal. but my skills in green screen were still at the beginning. despite a good performance and a good script it had a terrible performance at the festivals, i 1 year and a half got only 2 nominations and one of them perhaps they felt pity [laugh]. after completing the film i filmed some outdoors scenes where i got a precious help from 4 friends of mine, Atsushi san and Kelly with acting, Stephanie as DOP and Jared as 2nd camera. so just recently, towards the end of May during the lockdown, i took the original footages and reedited it from the scratch. I changed the background  for the green screen footages, choosing a much more visual impact one, i added those outdoors extra scenes, having my friend speaking Japanese in the film and filming in an old Japanese cemetery give more authenticity to the film, i changes the music, and the color grading. New clothes and new shoes. And is now when is being selected and even awarded at various festivals.

 [MIS]You have produced and directed 14 short films; can you tell us more about your upcoming project(s)?

[Leonidas] I just finished the first draft for a short film and i hope to get some help for a noir detective genre, my favorite i should say. No more double role here and very little green screen, just the first scene and maybe not even that…is still just the first draft. many things i will be changing before start filming, especially convince 2 friends to act in it .

[MIS]Any final thoughts at the end of this interview?

[Leonidas] Now that I lost my job I will focus more on the craft. For my next job I would be negotiating flexibility because the most important factor in filmmaking is time.

You can Also find the showreel of Leonidas in the below link 

 

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