Guys, we’ve got someone very special to interview today and their talents know no bounds. He’s a DJ, he’s a Remixer, he’s a writer, he’s a Director and, to top it all off, he founded his own production company called Way Out Films! Truly a man that can do it all, let me introduce to you to Adriel Leff! “How does a man have to time to do all that?!”, I hear you asking. Well, get ready to hear all about it, as we got all the deets in our exclusive interview…
When we first came across Adriel Leff, we knew him as a DJ. However, he has cast his creative net wide and can proudly boast that he is an award-winning producer, director and writer. So, of course, we had to ask all about his journey! He told us; “I made the natural transition from DJing to music journalism and being published on a regular basis gave me the confidence to write creatively. I then worked on my very first script, a comedy-drama TV pilot, which was optioned by a very well-known producer. That showed me that this was a field that I really should pursue, so I just kept on writing various projects. Soon, I also turned my hand to directing both narrative features and documentaries.” Further proof, that if you have an idea, pursue it and see what happens!
For any budding documentarians or filmmakers out there, you all know the struggle of bringing your project to fruition. Naturally, we asked Adriel if he had faced any struggles in that department and how he got himself out of it. He told us; “The first narrative films I directed had no budget whatsoever, therefore every day issues would arise that had to be dealt with quickly, cheaply and creatively. For example, if a certain location suddenly became unavailable, I might have to rewrite a scene on the fly to ensure that the story still worked. It’s all about evaluating the resources you have at your disposal and working around them. In my experience, creative problem-solving is a huge part of every filmmaking discipline, be it writing, directing, producing or editing.” Very true indeed. Problems will always crop up but it’s about how you tackle them, plus it teaches you to be a quick thinker. Silver lining!
We always, always ask people during their creative interviews when they knew they were creative and how they knew they wanted to pursue the avenue that they currently are. This interview was no different and we had to ask Adriel the same. He told us; “I began Djing whilst at school and knew from an early age that music was a path I wanted to follow. However, it wasn’t until much later in life that I began to consider looking into writing as a trade, really because I simply wasn’t aware that writing could actually be a viable profession. It is a great regret of mine that I didn’t go the traditional film school route but, as I say, I didn’t even realise that film school was an option when I was a teenager.” Some people know what they’re going to be early on, for others they try various avenues before settling on the right one. Everyone’s journey is different, but as long as you are fulfilled and happy, that’s all that matters.
Next, we had to ask all about where he found his inspiration (guys, creative interview, you know how it is.) He told us; “I always keep myself open to inspiration as you never know where it’s going to come from. The most important thing is to capture any thoughts you have as soon as they come to you.” Couldn’t agree more! I don’t know how many times I’ve forgotten a great idea purely because I forgot to jot it down! Could be a dot com millionaire by now…
Of course, any questions about creativity and inspiration have to be followed up by asking what kills their creativity and how they overcome that. We all know it can be difficult to find inspiration and once you have those creative juices flowing, you don’t want anything stemming their flow! We wanted to know if Adriel had any tips for us and he did not disappoint. He told us; “Creativity is mood-dependant. Sometimes, you just don’t feel like being creative and it’s a mistake to try and force creativity upon yourself. Instead, this is the best time to absorb the creative output of others, because it’s equally as important to watch and listen to other people’s content, as it is to create content yourself. Soon enough, you will feel ready to go back to your own projects.” Inspiration is all around us, people!
Now, we’re really getting into it. We asked about specific projects (some cool stuff for you to check out) that Adriel has worked on. Of course, we had to ask about Unravelling Schizophrenia and what it’s all about (for those of you not in the know, yet.) He told us; “It is a documentary feature film retrospective of my father Professor Julian Leff’s career as one of the most prominent social psychiatrists in the world, forming a comprehensive history of the changing perception of schizophrenia within the professional community and culminating with an examination of his latest development, Avatar Therapy.” Sounds intriguing and very progressive indeed!
With writing and directing, there’s a lot of character development and understanding their motivations, so we asked Adriel how he personally related to the characters in his films. He told us; “We all have a huge range of emotions and viewpoints within us, some that we choose to suppress, others that we bring to the fore. The key to creating a wide range of diverse characters is being able to draw on all of those internal voices, including the ones that we would usually try to ignore, and engage with them. This way, even with characters that are superficially completely unlike ourselves, there is still some aspect that is relatable.” Relatability does help with character development, if you can connect on some level, then you’ve got it!
As the founder of a film production company, we had to ask Adriel who he would invite to preview if he created his own film festival; “For me, my most important audience is my friends. I’ve always wanted to create work that people in my social circle would enjoy and, in the past, have been lucky enough to host screenings at film festivals where cinemas have been filled with familiar faces and these always prove to be the most fun. The same goes for Djing – of course it’s fantastic to get a room full of strangers dancing, but there is a certain satisfaction when you are able to entertain friends, giving something back to people who have been there for you in your life.” Couldn’t agree more Adriel! We’re all about giving back 🙂
A great question for anyone working in the film industry, we asked Adriel if he could pick one actor, dead or alive to star in one of his films, who would he pick? He told us; “My favourite performances are by Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson towards the beginning of their careers – specifically ‘On the Waterfront’ and ‘The Last Detail’ eras respectively. For me, nothing since has matched that kind of raw energy.” Love a bit of Marlon Brando 😉
The App and Farewells
So, before we bid Adriel a fond farewell (boo! Not ready) we had to ask probably the most question yet… what question he would create for the CLiKD app! Honestly, can’t believe we didn’t already have it. Michael Jackson themed, it was “Bad or Off the Wall?”
Looking to the future, we want to know what Adriel sees in his (aka. if there is anything exciting we should be on the lookout for!) Unsurprisingly, he has some big things in the pipeline; “I am currently directing a very exciting documentary feature about an arts centre in rural South Africa that uses the ancient mythology of the Bushmen (among the first humans on the planet) as the inspiration for its artworks, changing the lives of the local community. On the music front, I release one new remix every week, so follow me on Facebook to keep up to date with all my latest tracks. And, of course, you can catch me DJing every Friday and Saturday at the Barrio venues around London.” Can’t wait to follow along on your journey!
Thanks so much to Adriel Leff for chatting with us! It was a pleasure and all the best in the future, mate!
Adriel Leff’s Links: