Monday, February 6, 2012

Filmmaker Nectarios Leonidas

Nectarios Leonidas was born in Rhodes, Greece and went to the University of Connecticut. He moved to New York City in the mid 90s to pursue filmmaking, where he attended the School of Visual Arts.

He is an award winning filmmaker, who shorts, specs and recent feature film, "Black Site," have appeared in numerous film festivals, throughout the world. In the last five years, he has focused more on editing independent films like “Blueprint,” which was nominated for an IFP Gotham award for best film in 2007 and “Salud,” which won Best Screenplay at the 2009 Beverly Hills Film Festival.

Additionally, he has freelance for different clients, including corporate, advertising and non-profit companies, where he has helped shape and manage their videos and media projects.

What is the current project you are working on?

I’m writing a short romantic script right now and will be shooting it, in early 2012. It’s about a girl that goes on two dates with two guys of different economic status.  I haven’t done anything in the romantic genre, so this is a way of me trying to pushing myself by doing something new and different.

How do you measure success?

This is a hard question to answer.  As I get older, If I’m doing what I love and I’m able to pay my bills and have a roof over my head, I consider this a success.

How do you handle rejection?

You have to understand the basis of rejection, anytime you create something, there’s always going to be somebody that going to judge it. Otherwise, you’re creating things in a vacuum.

It used to bother me a lot, but I have become more relaxed about it as I got older. I know not everything is for everyone. For me, as long as I’m happy with the end product or project, I know I did what I set out to do. It’s great when people come along for the ride but you can’t try to pander to audiences. I try to push myself in all of my projects by doing things different than before

Did you always want to be a filmmaker?

I guess the filmmaking bug bit me at a young age, I was 8, we moved to the states in the late 70s, from Greece.  The first film I saw was a James Bond film on ABC “Live and Let Die,” I was hooked. From that age, my focus was on how the films where made. I would buy behind the scenes magazines, videos on all the great movies of the 80s.

What inspired you to become filmmaker?

I guess it was the allure of the whole experience of watching films.   For me, it’s important to tell my own stories and filmmaking allows me to give my take on what’s going on around us.

What is the best thing about being one?

One of the best things is you get to create your own worlds and have your own rules in these worlds. If you do it right, people will be entertained or see something from another perspective.

What is the worst thing about being one?

Sometimes, you finish something that’s a labor of love and audiences are indifferent or dismissive of it.  That’s where you learn to continue by growing and developing your skills and technics to improve your style.

What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?

In terms of features, I have worked on four films, in terms of shorts films over 40 and countless miscellaneous video project, like industrials, music videos and news segments for different clients.

Who is your favorite filmmaker?

It varies from year to year, I love the Coen Brothers for doing different things and genres.  I love visual directors like Luc Besson, Alfonso Cuarón, Gaspar Noé and Fernando Meirelles and many more. Like this year one of my favorite movies was “Attack the Block” by Joe Cornish.

How has your life changed since you became a filmmaker?

It has opened my world by allowing me questions things around me. I feel, it has helped me be a better person by listening to others and be more of a student and learning from everything and everyone that I come into contact with.

What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to make it in the movie business?

Take a page from NIKE and just do it. Start shooting and editing your own projects. I recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliners and he talks about the 10,000 hours.  Basically, the premise is the more you do something, the better you become.  Like anything else, you have to develop your skills sets and nobody is going to give you the money to do this. You have to do it on your own. With all the technology that we all have access to now, there’s no longer an excuse.  Even with out a computer you can use your cell phone to shoot something and edit it with YouTube’s video editor, by going to an Apple Store or a public library.   One of my favorite viral videos last year, was this teen in NYC who goes to the Apple store in Midtown and lip-sings to popular songs.  He gets over 100,000 hits for his videos.

What do you like to do besides filmmaking?

I like to drink, play tennis, bike ride and travel, but not at the same time because I wouldn’t be here, now.

Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become a filmmaker?

Yes, you name it I did it from, retail to mental hospital support staff.  That’s another great thing about filmmaking, you get to meet some great people and get some ideas by being around others that are different from you and the experiences are invaluable to you as a filmmaker.

What are some of your favorite American films? Foreign films? Television shows?

I’ll just focus on the last few years but I love all types of films.

American Films,   - Drive, - Rise of the Planet of the Apes, - Bridesmaids

Foreign Films,     - Attack the Block, - The Skin I Live In, -Shame

TV – Damages, - Curb your Enthusiasm, - Louie

How would you describe your film education?

Well I went to School of Visual Arts to get my training, and watching different movies from around the world. You see what’s possible and how other filmmakers tell their stories.

How would you describe the film "scene" where you live?

NYC is great. It’s the independent capital of the world. If you want to try something you have endless resources and crews to work with you.  It’s one of the main reasons, I live here.  If you have an idea, you can get a lot of people to help you make your project possible.

How has social media changed the independent film industry?

It’s breaking all the barriers to the industry.  You can now find your crew, money, equipment, cast and create your film. You can even distribute your finish product and let it find it’s audience quicker. Look at Louis C.K., he did a comedy special and sold it for $5.00 dollars online. Not only did he make money, he was able to keep the cost low because he got rid of the middle man.

What's your opinion on crowdfunding?

I think it’s great but I feel it might be reaching it’s tipping point.  Like everything, if you’re first to the party you get all the good stuff, eventually when more people come, there’s less cake, cookies, dirks and everything else.

How does independent film differ from the mainstream?

In the last five years, you couldn’t tell the difference.  You had major stars doing so call “indie” films but I think with the recession. We are going back to the true indie scene of the 70’s and 80’s.

You could go back in time and see any film being made. Which film
would it be and why?

Wow, this is an interesting question, I guess, since I’m the product of the 70’s and 80’s I would choose one of the pivotal films from that time.  I would have loved to be on the set of “Empire Strikes Back.”  That’s the best of the series and somebody (thinking) the director had George in check. Just because you can do something digital, doesn’t mean you have to.

What's your favorite movie quote and why?

It’s from one of my favorite movies of all time, “Cinema Paradiso.” - “I don't want to hear you talk anymore. I want to hear others talking about you.”

What is your opinion on movie remakes and sequels?

It all depends on the stories and who does them.  Look at “Empire” and “Godfather 2” those are great sequels or Coen Brothers’ “True Grit” and “The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo,” are great remakes.   When you have a great story and great directors, they work. But when you have people who just want to make more money from the same material you get things like “Hangover 2,” and “The Thing.”

What is your opinion on book to movie adaptions?

I’m in favor of them. Books have been around for centuries and most of these stories can be adapted and updated to today’s society.  Look at “Godfather,”  the book was kind of a main stream popcorn novel, but the movie is one of the best films in the last 100 years.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Just if you’re not following on twitter make sure you add me @flippantfilms.


Thanks Nectarios for doing the interview. I wish you all the best writing your romantic script. I will be following you on Twitter so I will be up to date on your projects. I'm going to see Attack Of The Block at a local convention. I've heard nothing but good things about it.