CREATIVE DIRECTOR &
Galo de Viera
Leo Adef & Galo de Viera
Galo de Viera & Raihan Vintro
Traditional media is still far away from representing gay identities and realities, or if they represent them, they mostly "heterosexualize them", that is, they present gay stories and characters but they get married and have children showing that they can be “normal” couples or families.Hailing from Buenos Aires, young film director, Leo Adef, explores adolescence, identity, intimacy and sexuality by using some form of outcast character or rebellious soft porn aesthetic, to which perhaps not everyone is quite accustomed. He shows reality through a very sensitive eye. I met Leo four years ago in a discoteque and in between nights, days, parties and lot of deep talks we became friends. Today I met him at his home to hear about how he has escaped the norm and how he represents that what is not represented, encouraging us to explore the little known dark sides of growing up as gay through his own process of storytelling. Leo and his community of like-minded creatives who gather at the Maricas Maricas party believe in a future where being gay flourishes ideas, beauty, truth and inspiration,fueling the essence of making art on the silver screen.
G : Do you remember the first night you came to Barcelona? How was it? How did you feel?
L: I remember how I felt when I saw the city for the first time. I would like to feel that again, to see it as it was. I felt very inspired when I came here. It all seemed like a film to me: living alone, having my own home where I can come in and out at any time; arranging everything the way I want so it doesn’t look like I am on vacation anymore, not a simple trial but moving for real.
G: And to live like you are in a movie?
L: Yes, but I also remember that I came here one week before my birthday, and I clearly remember that day. It was the first birthday where I was on my own and I didn’t know anyone, and I couldn’t celebrate it. I was in a good place but at the same time I had no idea what to do, you know ?
G: Like a spectator and a protagonist of the story.
G: David Lynch once said ‘it’s always the process of building then destroying. And then out of destruction, discovering a thing and building on it.’ How would you apply this to your own process of creation? Is it good for the artist to understand conflict and stress ?
L: I really don’t have a specific pattern that I follow throughout each project, I normally divide my work into my personal and paid projects and the only difference between these two is time. Or the pressure you have when trying to meet the deadline. But I do believe in and like this image of chaos. I identify with it, it's a cool kind of chaos.
G: Is it a positive chaos? Does it generate you as a person?
L: It is in the middle of mess, almost as if it were creating something with a thousand options, saying where I should go and where not, and that the next day it would be all crap but it gives you an opportunity to think outside the box.
I like this process quite a lot and as I have already experienced it, I’m able to follow the evolution and know that something is going to come out of it. The more reflection that happens the better, because it makes me rethink stuff many times and the result, the idea, becomes stronger so I can defend it better and I can explain it perfectly to others and they can understand it in order to do a better job. Therefore I identify with this image of chaos and it's the way I like to work also.
G: I was just going to ask you, how do you get all of your ideas materialised? Does the entire film come to you at once? In a comic strip, if someone gets an idea, a light bulb goes on. It happens in an instant. What about you?
L: Sometimes it can be a random space I see in my head, for instance, a public bathroom. All of a sudden I am visualising it and start to add components or pull some out, and as a result it can end up being a completely different idea, but in all these elements and mental tests, like in a game, a lot of great things can happen. What characters I introduce and how they act, what they are doing or who they become. A bathroom like this includes thinking about how the lighting is, what it smells like and all these sensations, from then on all these things I am introducing, or testing…and something ends up arising, and I think “This is the idea!” but to be honest it was all the previous process that I just ended up seeing through.
G: Of course, everything you were already developing in your head.
L: And when things aren’t working out like I want them to, I don't get too stressed out either, but I try to do other things: listen to music, go for a walk, watch a film or some shitty youtube videos and all this nonsense in the end sometimes brings me new ideas, things I had in my head already that evolved, or moments I lived, what I did, and all the stimuli I had.
G: Life is filled with abstractions. Everybody’s got the same tools: the camera and the tapes and the world and the actors. But in putting those parts together, there are differences. How do you get something to feel right?
L: I always take a second to look at what I have done. What you're creating shows a lot about how you felt at that very moment. There are some videos that I made at the very beginning, that I would do differently today, because I used to approach the subject in a more naive or innocent way or I didn’t think about the subject at all. Or maybe I was just using a stereotype that I don't believe in anymore.
G: There are many dark things floating around in this world , and most films reflect the world in which we live in. Do you think you can be anywhere to see a kind of strangeness in how the world is these days? Or is a certain place or way of looking necessary?
L: We are very well informed about everything now – darkness in the world and all the terrible things, they happen at all time. Now we see it online instantly; for example I don't watch the news, I don't read newspapers, I am only aware about things that my friends share on their newsfeeds – I follow those people so I trust them, because they want to inform me at the time. I am informed but I don’t feel bombed with everything around me, I think it's this feeling, that makes us believe that the world is fucked up, but I don't know when it wasn't fucked up to be honest.
I think darkness has more to do with a point of view than with a context. I mean, it is like as if you were watching life through glasses, like a filter you put onto real life. I have this dark spirit in me that is more related to my story and how my personality was formed than with the context on a macro level, and the things that happened to me. It’s more about how I faced them, and how they ended up giving me a dark touch on life.
All of this is quite reflective especially when we start questioning everything. For me darkness is just a filter, the same situation that has nothing to do with context but how one sees it from their point of view, it’s what another person can see in a totally opposite way, the same as when there is a moment that I can see in a very erotic way but another person views it as quite disgusting.
G: Everything has to do with the point of view that is obscure.
L: Yeah, it's the way it comes out, when I have to do commercials or happy themed videos, something that is fake, it takes me a while to start the project. I know I have to do it because I need the money to live, therefore I pretend I am a fictional character in order to complete the task.
G: As a Maricas party participant, could you tell us more about it and what the basis of the movement is? How did you become part of it and how do you see yourself on reflection?
L: Okay, I speak as a friend of the girls who organize the party and as a participant, nothing more.
G: Perfect. So it's a group of friends of yours and you participate.…
L: Yeah, I go to a party and I collaborate, we do a lot of interesting things. It's a party I ended up going to by accident. I made some really good friends, especially with the people who formed it; everyone has an artistic profile, they create things all the time, they think wide, they express themselves regarding what they see and what they do. I think it's a party where all of us meet different people and we started to create interesting things together – we collaborate, we go out, and make more friends basically. I think that sometimes these things are contagious, as well as the party itself, so the project grows all the time and also gives each of us possibilities. If you are a director and want to make a video, you need continuous feedback from people who are there.
G: We all at one point want to expand people's consciousness and convey some particular feeling when we are artists. It's a human need. How do you think you do it? Where do you get inspiration from?
L: I don't think there's a particular feeling that can convey this. Hence the exercise I have to do is to name this feeling X and instead of enclosing it in one word, I aim to explain it better, to get it clear to myself and to be able to also transmit it to an actor. For instance, there is a scene where the actor has to appear troubled. It can be many things, I have to think of my own sadness. This sadness generates something for me, which is surely held from a little melancholy, or helplessness, since feelings like this do not exist alone. You even have to know why all of this is coming towards you. If I feel insecure about something, I try to think what I’d like to do if I was a fictional character. It allows me to transmit it better and whoever will be the director of photography has to understand what the mood is, and whoever produces the music has to understand the sound behind it. My job is completely the opposite, so instead of focusing on one thing that can't be explained with a word, I have to try to explain it as well as possible to make it clear.
G: How do you work with yourself? Do you realise if you have any restrictions ?
L: I have insecurities, but I know myself. I know that when I'm sure of something and that everything goes in this direction, I keep on working. My insecurities appear when I either don't work hard enough or I didn't have enough time to finish the project, or I'm not working with the team I'd like to work with, when things aren't being done exactly my way.
It is like a drug, because you are stuck there. The clock is ticking, time is passing, projects have to be done. Sometimes it might be that I'm getting sick, yet when it’s time to shoot, I feel perfect, and then I just fall apart afterwards. It’s a drug because you're the director and you have to be alert all the time, you don't rest at all. It's very nice, I love it. But also since I started working when I was young, I have a young face and everyone sees me as if I am still a boy. At first it led me from one side to another, but it always made me want to learn. Now that I can choose a director of photography or the stylists I like, I can work with people I believe in, and then I have zero drama in accepting their ideas.
G: What does beauty mean to you? How is it reflected in your work? In a wider meaning of the word.
L: For me beauty has everything to do with sensitivity. I like sensitive things, it doesn't have to be anything to do with the tone, To me this sensitivity is to believe in how we are seeing and feeling the truth.
You don't have to be perfect, there are times when it's cool to roll in an imperfect place, like a really bad one, and with a camera that doesn’t work properly. Perfection in this sense is a part of the industry, part of art, but if I find the richness in the things I really see, I see individuals, different people-that make me see beautiful things from a new perspective, grow, and learn something. This is what beautiful people mean to me. The world is the same, stereotyped; but they are not.
G: If I asked you to picture yourself ten years ago, or ten years ahead, there are many things that may have changed or that you would like to change, but there must be some things that you would like to preserve, or by acquiring you would like to maintain, or maybe there is nothing at all – you tell me. Was there something you actually learned and use today?
L: When I put a lot of pressure on myself and wanted my work to evolve, I left behind certain images that were no good, comments that were no good.I didn’t want to always choose a certain type of casting, I used to mortify myself with all of this. I didn't want to show my projects, because I wanted to be more advanced in them –nothing satisfied me, but I then realised that my work does not advance faster than my persona and every time I break down, it was going to naturally reflect in my work. Therefore I started to work on myself, rather than giving up on my work altogether, I eventually ended up representing that stage of my life in my projects.
When I was very insecure at some point in my life, I read an interview where one famous person was asked similar questions to those which you have asked me and he replied that his work was totally different 10 years ago and he would change everything except the subject and the idea. I would now represent the subject using completely different resources that I acquired throughout the years.
There is some intrinsic spirit that follows me in my reality and work, as I devote a lot of time to it, but also as I grow, I create my own universe that continues to reflect new things that grow alongside. I am learning and understanding these new things in my life and then with all the respect to the past, I would like to include that essence of what I do and the sensitivity, the desires that follow me. What is important is to complete projects, create, out of your own interest and not because you want them to appear online, or invite a famous artist because it's fashionable. I want to keep this essence. And for the future, I want to consider the same things – I don’t want to tempt myself, because in real life it is a job that pays very well and it is very tempting to experiment, but at the same time I try to maintain this balance and try to feel deeper inside. Whenever I'm doing something artistic, I am totally against or not interested in, I simply have to maintain this balance.