Adam Leon : Focused on feeling
Riding high on his Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature, from SXSW Film 2012, held in Austin, Texas in the United States, Adam Leon’s first feature film, Gimme the Loot, grew wings. This adventure story about Malcolm and Sofia, two taggers who need to raise 500 dollars so they can show their rivals who exactly are the best grafitti artists in New York Bronx, landed in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival in May 2012.
30 year-old Leon said that the quest for money to carry out their plan mirrored to some extent his quest to find money for his film, albeit a low-budget one “the price of two-nice cars”. Moreover, he said the way it was shot, paralleled the characters' adventure.
“We knew the city was going to throw all sorts of things at us each day, and we wanted to embrace that, and scheme and hustle like our characters as we made the movie… actors not showing up, locations falling through and often it made the scene better, more essential for what we need to tell the audience.”
Leon’s passion for cinema led him to direct, although he avoided the film-school circuit, “I’m an amateur, in the French sense, and wanted to work in movies since I was very small. I went to college and watched movies every night.” He says he was greatly inspired by Gimme the Loot by Little Fugitives (1953), written and directed by Ray Ashley, Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin.
Following his non-film college education, Leon waded through various production jobs, spent nights writing scenarios, directed his own music videos and short films, before feeling he was ready to direct his first feature.
The challenge in the plot of Gimme the Loot, is not only getting enough money to pull off a pride-saving stunt, says Leon, but in showing the real picture about young people with difficult lives that are often portrayed in a miserable or criminal way.
“It felt exciting and new to do something more about the joys of youth set in a world that’s a little bit tougher.”
At Cannes in May 2012, Leon was ploughing on with his next project, and revealing a superstitious side, but he would only say that, “it’s very different in terms of setting", but hopes that it will, like his first feature, “have a lot of heart and joy, in a world where you wouldn’t expect it”. We’re waiting…