Interview with director Georg Sokol Leitgeb


Having directed numerous music-videos and commercials, THE SECRET BOX marks the international Drama Short-Film Debut for Austrian creator G.S. Leitgeb – with his current feature film in development, pursuing the same vibe, pace & colour. Following in the footsteps of well-known masters T. Burton, G. del Toro and W. Anderson, G.S. Leitgeb combines his work as writer, designer and director – molding a fictional world filled with adventure, fantasy & mystery. Garnished with a sense of slapstick-comedy as the cherry on top. Inside the Dublin & Vienna based World-Building Studio KTC®Slingshot, he’s leading a Team of Creatives formerly involved in The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, Penny Dreadful or A Series of Unfortunate Events – offering services for writing, design and directing.Grown up in Vienna – Austria, G.S. Leitgeb attended the University of Vienna for his studies on Film, Theater and Media, followed by partial studies at the Film Academy of Vienna and the Academy of Applied Arts. In 2015, he established Dublin as his second place of living, where he spent 4 years to develop several Genre-Concepts, entering the international Entertainment Market. Aside from his work as a Writer, Designer and Director he’s also a known DJ for Vienna’s Indie-Alternative Music-Scene.

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

I guess this point of realization was, when shooting my first Short-Film ‘Dark Loop’ in 2011. Before that I was only experimenting with the medium while studying film-analytics and film-theory. So yeah, directing my first short and noticing the dynamics of an entire team working with you on your vision, was definitely a key-experience. But as I’m also a Writer and a Designer, the ways of telling a vision are becoming more and more diverse. Film is definitely still my Main-Medium to tell stories, but Graphic Novels or RPG’s are growing to be interesting to me as well.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

No. You need two things to be a ‘satisfied’ director in my opinion: A strong vision with a way to communicate. And the other thing is experience, which you gain mainly while being on set shooting or by being heavily involved in Development and Pre-Production. None of these steps require a Film Institute degree. But, going to a film institute, definitely saves you a lot of time, as you immediately get access to crew, cast and equipment, for testing ideas in a safer environment. Outside of a Film Institute, these steps take longer, are more risky and require more money.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

Keep going is definitely the hard part – at least up to that point, where you have your breakthrough. Starting with your very first directing piece, be it a music video, a micro, short or a small promotion clip, is easy. After that, it can be a long road to figure out, what you really wanna do and where you want to go. Some aim for Hollywood genre blockbusters, others more towards arthaus and some dig B-Movies. Each of those goals requires different steps and directions, that you need to follow. And following these steps means to be consistent consistent consistent, while avoiding to get sidetracked as much as possible.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

It was more of a re-assuring experience, where I noticed again, that being consistent and sometimes a little bit stubborn, leads to a satisfying end-product. I’m not someone who gives up easily. So instead of making compromises, I’d rather sit down, take more time and think of a solution within my Directing Department, to still get what I had in mind, without putting the other departments under more pressure in throwing more work at them.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

Following a quite long development and financing process, I was aiming to bring in some senior Key-Creatives on this short. But the moment you bring in very experienced crew, you always have time and availability playing against you. So getting the timing right for the shooting dates was definitely the biggest challenge. On top of that, all the Studios around Dublin were booked out. So finding a proper space to set up our Stage Construction was another challenge to overcome .Moving from casting to shooting and editing was pretty straight forward I would say. As the entire team, crew and cast consisted out of professionals. So we had a pretty clean pipeline. It was more the process of development and keeping the long pre-production going, where we created the Production Design Elements, the narrative World and Characters.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

To postpone our shoot for an entire year, because of Production Value and Quality, which provided me with more time to expand my vision and even improve the narrative world connected to that story.

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

Throughout the last couple of years, a big part of my activities was setting up a network of international Creatives, who were involved in big Shows or Motion Pictures. As a young filmmaker it gives yo access to a lot of knowledge. And once you gain the respect from experienced people, only the timing of bringing them in on a short film is essential. So getting the people I wanted was more important to me than time.To keep those relationships going is easier these days as you have social media, skype and WhatsApp. But of course I’m trying to travel as much as possible to keep those relationships alive up to the point, when I’m directing my next piece, to bring them in again. Then it’s easy, as you quickly grow back into a filmmaking family while being on set shooting.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

There are tons of different audiences out there. It’s not about to ask what they ALL want, it’s more about, identifying your voice and style and then looking for the key-audience that fits. From that moment on, it’s important to listen to that key audience and build on such a fan base, until you’re opening it up to a wider audience.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

I was holding back on international Festivals for quite some time, in regards of my previous work. I wanted to find my voice and style first, before I throw anything into the international Festival Circuit. This is actually my first proper narrative Short and also my first real Festival-Tour. So far it feels like the right time for me, as now I have a bag filled with enough Motion Picture and Series Concepts for some proper industry networking.Even though, this short wasn’t made to fit a typical Festival Run. The Rise of Paperboy is more about introducing a narrative World and to present a first piece of a story line which could grow in the future. Most Festival Juries are looking for something more ‘self-contained’. Currently it seems that the audience is the one who’s curious and entertained by it. So I’d rather stick with pleasing an audience, than a Festival Jury here.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

Neither. It’s key to find what YOU want to tell and what is YOUR style. Getting inspired by both – fresh new stuff and classic cinema style definitely helps to figure that out. But once you’ve found out what your own style is, you should stick to that – The right audience and the suitable production environment will grow around that very specific style – as long as you find a way to express yourself and communicate that style to everybody.