Featured Filmmaker ~ Nino Leitner
Zacuto Films presents Featured Filmmaker Nino Leitner. Along with being an avid blogger in the film community and DSLR enthusiast, Nino constantly reinvents himself and works on his craft, both as a Director and DP in commercial, image and documentary films. “Documentary is my true passion.” says Nino. “Making a film about a subject…asking all those uncomfortable questions that need to be asked.” While most of us today continue to share our personal lives on the web through photos, videos, Facebook and tweets, but what happens when a nation decides to implement nation-wide surveillance with over 4 million cameras? Nino explores these questions in his documentary film “Every Step You Take.” In this interview, Nino shares his journey from film school in Salzburg to the demanding world of commercial videos and discusses his process and passion for the independent film industry.
Nino, why did you get into the filmmaking industry?
I was born in a very creative household, both my parents are designers. As a kid I did a lot of drawings, but very quickly I realized that I what I really want to do is to create movies. After lots of little short films and documentaries during the high school years that kept my friends and teachers entertained, I decided to study filmmaking. In college, I met up with a lot of like-minded people, also from other creative branches like 3D animation, audio and design. That created a tight network of colleagues, and I am benefiting from this arsenal of great team players every day in my work experience.
What do you love about the film industry and the process?
Well, there are lots of aspects that I love about the the process of filmmaking and the industry itself. To me, the greatest thing is the meticulous planning that has to go into the whole process to produce a great result. Part of the process is to work closely with other people, and filmmaking in general is the most intense team cooperation experience I can imagine – the strengths and weaknesses by any individual involved in the process will be revealed eventually. On the other hand, the other extreme, tools like DSLRs give us the opportunity to work in tiny teams, even alone, and still produce film-like results that were unimaginable with that little effort only a few years back. Last but not least, the community that has sprung up around the new ways of filmmaking is unique, helpful, engaged and motivating. Even a new breed of manufacturers has sprung up to really listen to the filmmakers’ needs, which is something entirely new – Zacuto is a great example for that. Platforms like Twitter and Vimeo are places where a filmmaker should really be if he wants to be kept in the loop in our day and age.
Who is your inspiration?
I am inspired by a lot of different other filmmakers and other sources, so it’s hard to pin down individuals. If I had to name directors in the present, I would say Darren Aronofsky and P.T. Anderson – their films strike me as extremely dense and atmospheric, but I have no idea how they do it. I guess that’s why I’m in such awe. From all the filmmakers I follow online, I am probably most impressed by Philip Bloom and Tom Lowe. Apart from his apparent talent, Philip is a really great person to be around, and somehow he manages to consistently blog and help people online, it’s amazing. Tom Lowe is the most talented time-lapse photographer I have ever seen, and I think the fact that he’s working with Godfrey Reggio now – the director of the visual masterpiece Koyaanisqatsi – really is a match made in heaven.
What do you like about being a DP and a Director?
Both as a DP and director, I like to be able to convey a mood and think about how my I can serve the story best – both through the “storytelling” itself as well as through cinematography. This is not only true for narrative fiction work, but documentary-style shooting as well. Documentary is my true passion, and I hope to be able to do much more documentary work in the near future. That’s what I certainly like best about the process: Making a film about a subject I am really interested in, digging through all kinds of research material, only to learn and ultimately put all of that into a documentary, asking all that uncomfortable questions that need to be asked.
Anything unusual ever happen on set or location?
All the time unusual stuff happens on sets or locations – in filmmaking, you really got to be expecting the unexpected. Last summer, I shot an episode of a collaborative feature film project near my hometown Innsbruck, also called the “heart of the Alps” because of its unique placement within the valley. We were on a mountain overlooking the town, and had to bring a lot of equipment on foot from the cable car station to the location. Suddenly, around 30 cows started invading our location, they were about to run over the props, but then one of our PA’s put a red chair right in front of them and they suddenly stopped, gathering around the chair and almost treating it like something sacred. It was a weird spectacle to look at!
Check out Nino’s trailer of his documentary film “Every Step You Take.”
About the film: With an estimated four million surveillance cameras, Britain is by far the most-watched nation on earth. How could this come about in George Orwell’s mother country? Why haven’t other nations copied the schemes if they really are as successful as the Home Office and the police are saying? Is there a real effect in crime reduction or has CCTV only been introduced for the people’s ‘peace of mind’? Are there any vested interests in the proliferation of CCTV? Trying to answer questions like these, the investigative documentary “EVERY STEP YOU TAKE” digs deep into an entirely British phenomenon: nation-wide video surveillance. It features formal interviews with police chiefs, CCTV managers as well as experts in the fields of surveillance research and data protection. Investigative research uncovers secrets that will make every responsible Briton worry. For details on how to see the film and more information check EveryStepYouTake.org.
Nino Leitner is a film director, DP and producer born in Innsbruck, Austria. He studied film and video production in Salzburg and the United Kingdom and specializes mainly in documentaries, commercials and image films. One of his major works is the feature-length documentary “Every Step You Take” (A/E/UK 2007) that exposed the weird inner-workings of the massive video surveillance / CCTV schemes covering every corner of the UK. It gained quite some media attention, was featured at film festivals around the globe and won several awards.
In February 2009, Nino got the rare chance to test the then-upcoming Canon EOS 550D (or Rebel T2i, as it is called in the US) extensively before any other filmmakers around the world could get their hands on it. He shot the test short “FEBRUARY“, which has been watched almost 250,000 times so far, converting uncountable doubters to 550D owners. He started his blog at the same time, propelling it to the top of the league immediately. Since then he has focused on gear reviews for DSLR filmmakers, which made the blog one of the most trusted sources in this sector.