Eric’s Note: I am pleased to share this interview with Tomas Leach, the director of “In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter.” If you haven’t watched it yet, make sure to catch a screening near you, and also check out my interview with him below.
1. Tomas great to have you. Can you first start off by introducing yourself to our readers?
Hi. Thanks for having me. I’m a documentary and commercials director based in London.
2. How did you first discover film making, and how does it mesh with your interests in photography?
I’ve wanted to make films since I started watching a lot of great cinema in my teens. I’ve been into journalism and photography since even earlier.
3. How did you first discover saul leiters work and what inspired you to film a documentary about his life and work?
I got Saul’s book Early Color on a recommendation from a friend. It blew my mind. I fell in love with Saul’s work the second I opened it. It’s beautiful, mysterious, human and playful.
I was stunned. And there was nothing about him anywhere. This unbelievable artist was just hidden away.
4. How did you first approach saul leiter to create the film, and what were his initial reactions?
I got in touch with him through his gallery and started persuading him that there must be a film made about him. After a few months, he said that if I was in New York, we could have coffee. So I flew to New York to meet him for coffee.
I arrived at his door, all nervous, and as he opened it he said only ‘Why do people always want things from me’ and walked back inside.
Crucially though, he left the door open and after a bit of silence, I followed him in.
5. What did you most enjoy about creating the film, and what were some difficulties you faced along the way?
Saul is an incredibly fascinating man. He constantly surprised me. He has an openness and curiosity about the world that I find inspiring. The film is subtitled ’13 lessons in life with Saul Leiter’ for a good reason.
It was tough to persuade him initially, but once we got into it, it was a joy. The difficulties are all the usual difficulties in making a film. It’s a long, slow, tough process. And because of the way Saul and I agreed on making the film, I was completely on my own for the production.
So I did it all – sound, image, producing, interviewing, backing up material, carrying equipment.
6. What do you ultimately want the viewers of the film to take away from it?
People can take whatever assumptions they want. I have plenty of views about Saul, but they are irrelevant really.
The best thing about the film is that it is him, in his own words.
It’s not me or anyone else editorialising.
Everything he says is him. Everything else is speculation.
7. Was there anything you aren’t able to include in the film or things you would have liked to add afterwards?
I have so much from Saul that it was beautiful and insightful that we couldn’t fit in the film. But that’s ok.
There’s nothing I want to add to it.
8. What is some advice you would to aspiring film makers?
Make films, watch films. Endlessly. It’s a craft and an art form and you need to practice all the time.
9. What are some other projects you have lined up for the future?
I’m doing a short documentary next, then I hope to do the next feature length. There’s a few ideas around, but I haven’t settled on which it will be just yet.
I also direct commercials and I love making them, so hopefully some more will happen soon.
10. Who are some people you would like to give a shout out and thanks to in making this film possible?
Kate, Johnny, Mark and Steve all helped me make this film. They all worked very hard on the post-production.
Many people inspired me along the way and I owe something to all of them.
But the main person is Margit Erb, without whom the film would have been impossible.
Interview with Saul Leiter
Check out this short but insightful interview with Saul Leiter by David Gibson from In-Public here.
Photos by Saul Leiter
Follow “In No Great Hurry”
They will be releasing a DVD and download of the film in early summer.
In the meanwhile to watch the full film, you can see a full list of upcoming screenings here.
Tuesday 11th June, 7.15pm
Special screening with Director Q&A.
Sunday 16th June,
Cinematique Theater Daytona Beach, FL.
Part of the Cafe Cinematique Discussion Series
Friday 21st June, 3pm
Open City Docs Festival, London.
With Director Q&A. **Nominated for Best Emerging UK Filmmaker**
Saturday 22nd June,
Umbria World Fest, Umbria, Italy
Monday 24th June, 6.30pm
Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge, UK
Start of UK cinema release. With Director Q&A.
Monday 24th June, 9.30pm
Soho House, West Hollywood and NYC, USA
Special members preview screenings.
Thursday 27th June, 6.40pm
ICA Cinema, London, UK
Start of UK cinema release. With Director Q&A.
Saturday 6th July, 16.30
Screening as part of Arles Photography Symposium.
Screening as part of Evening Screening Festival.