Visionary RadicalMedia director Leonardo Dalessandri is best known for his travel-inspired projects, with his first foray into this world landing him Vimeo Staff Pick: Best of the Year in 2014. The film, Watchtower of Turkey, went viral, garnering more than 200 million views and launching his career. Since then, Leonardo has gone on to collaborate with the likes of Google, Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Corona.
In this interview, Leonardo shares how his love for travel and film kickstarted his directing career and why he embraces mistakes.
LBB> Tell us a bit about your background as a director and your expertise.
Leonardo> Everything started in Parma, Italy, the home of Giuseppe Verdi and Parmesan cheese. I went to university there, studying film, theatre, and new media. From childhood, I have been fascinated by films and even before I graduated, I found myself working abroad as a director. This was great, because for as long as I can remember I have had a passion for travel. I went to Turkey with my cameras and travelled across the whole country, taking the time to experiment with my approach to filmmaking. The result was Watchtower of Turkey, which went viral faster than I would have ever dreamed. Vimeo awarded it the Staff Pick: Best of the Year, and suddenly there were many opportunities.
LBB> And how did you come to join RadicalMedia?
Leonardo> I’ve done a lot of work in the US and RadicalMedia has always been on my radar. I had just finished working with Google and was asked to create something for Apple, and I knew I wanted to collaborate with Radical for it. I worked directly with their president, Frank Scherma in LA, and we clicked instantly - maybe because he is also Italian! I just love Radical’s adventurous creative process.
Since then, I have worked with Ben Schneider at RadicalMedia in the UK and Ukraine on some Samsung Ads, and I noticed that the focus on creativity runs just as strongly through the UK team. That’s why I believe some of my most satisfying accomplishments have been made through my collaborations with Radical. There’s a great bond here and we have a lot of trust with each other.
LBB> How would you describe your style as a director?
Leonardo> I try to create work that feels spontaneous and organic. In truth it hides a careful approach and meticulous planning. Even the most casual-looking shot is carefully composed.
LBB> What have been your career highlights so far?
Leonardo> Watchtower of Turkey for me was like a university thesis. It set me on my path as a professional filmmaker. Interestingly, people responded to the scene-to-scene transitions in Watchtower and began reaching out with tech projects: Google Maps, Samsung, Apple, Huawei, which I produced with RadicalMedia. Tim Cook personally introduced one of our films onstage at an Apple event presenting the very first iPad pro.
LBB> What inspires you?
Leonardo> Life is a learning journey. Sometimes even a mistake becomes a revelation, a happy accident.
Commercials can be about anything, and I love that process of diving deeply into a subject to learn all about it. When you drill down into a subject’s essence, you find new ways to tell that story, it’s suddenly more personal, authentic.
For this new Turkish Airlines film, I read and watched everything I could about the airline business. I even read the memoirs of flight attendants.
LBB> How would you like to develop your creative over the next year or so?
Leonardo> I’m on a perpetual quest to see more, do more and learn more. The more I work, the more I develop and improve my collaborative skills, especially as I work with better and better creatives, who bring so much to the process. I would love to apply some of the skills that I have acquired to a larger canvas. Cars, sports, and, why not, fashion. For me it’s always onward and upward!
LBB> Any other comments you would like to share?
Leonardo> I’m a learner, not a teacher.