S1EP1: Ricardo Leòn, Editor/Filmmaker

on ‘Walking out of Lockdown’

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Ricardo Leon and Mark Abouzeid on “Walking out of Lockdown”

Mark Abouzeid talks with ‘Arena’ filmmaker, Ricardo Leòn, about his experiences in during Denmark’s lockdown and how his two cultures (Danish and Venezuela) reacted so differently to the same crisis. He wonders, “who is lying?”

While he enjoyed the time freedom of ‘working at home’, he clearly prefers the immediacy of an intimate studio for creativity and is looking forward to returing to normal.

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Ricardo Leòn is filmmaker from Venezuela, based in Copenhagen. He Studied at the Escuela Nacional de Cine in Caracas, Venezuela.

In Colombia he worked professionally as co-editor on a feature film (Perdido en Los Farallones) as well as on a documentary about the post-agreement in Colombia (Colombia Year One). He has edited video-clips for an international dance festival in Cali (Bienal Internacional de Danza), made promotional videos for private companies, and worked on his own projects, including the award-winning documentary film “Arena”.

contact: https://www.ricardoleonreel.com/contact/

Every week, Mark Abouzeid reaches out to freelancers, artisans, creatives, culture protagonists and every day people on how they survived lockdown and what the ‘new normal’ means to them, personally and professionally. In an intimate conversation between friends, Abouzeid asks them about the future, what changes they will make to adapt and how they intend to rebuild.
Subscribe to this channel to see every episode. https://www.youtube.com/c/reallives

walking out of lockdown podcast

Director: Mark Abouzeid
Producer: Real Lives Channel on youtube

Interviewer: Mark Abouzeid
Editing and Postproduction: Mark Abouzeid

Creative Commons Stock footage:
Woman Washes Hands – Cinesim Media
SFDPH Wash Hands Spanish – SFGovTV
Wash your hands, grab your hand sanitizer, keep Corona and other related infections away – #CapitalFmKenya
200129_01_Medical_4k_005 – Videvo
200314 – Work Life_Hand Sanitiser_04_4k_003 – Videvo
WASH Your Hands Mr Bean! | Bean Movie | Classic Mr Bean – Classic Mr Bean

Music from http://www.Epidemic Sound.com:
“Safehouse (explicit version)” – Iso Indies

Thank you to Zoom for webconferencing and recording.

Copyright Mark Abouzeid, 2020. All rights reserved.


Mark Abouzeid 0:25
Alright, good morning and welcome to walking out a lockdown. I mark as a photojournalist filmmaker, and cultural specialist. Today I’m sitting here with Ricardo Leon, young filmmaker editor who I first met at ethnographic film. He presented an amazing film on the issues of sand, and how something as simple as sand can be a prime commodity for indigenous people and a place of conflict. So today we want to catch up on where things are good morning.

Ricardo Leon 1:00
Morning. Thank you for inviting

Mark Abouzeid 1:02
me. It’s great to see you again. Um, let’s go back to New Year’s, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day. You’re looking forward to the year. How did you see your year? what was gonna happen this year? What were your thoughts? What was your mood?

Ricardo Leon 1:20
Right. So, back then, I have a basic from my mom. So that took a lot of space in my mind. I you know, taking her out, it was her first time here. But at the same time it was running some sort of internship that I was going to start in January this year. So and at the same time, I have another job which is like my, you know, patron job, you know, and that it also takes a lot of time but my first goal in this 2020 was to survive that interesting because it was not paid. It was supposed to To be six months, non pay as an editor assistant in a full time, schedule. Nice and and that for me was like, Okay, I can monitor you know, and then I tape but I talked to the guy to the My boss and I told him that you know, I do this for a living and as you understand not Danish and when you’re Danish, it’s much easier because then you have something called doping, which is like, you know, support Yeah, in the US and they were actually looking for someone who, you know, had that option because it’s much easier for them to they, you know, you don’t have to worry about like, Is he having a bad time or one? And so they gave me the position and I did a few. Let’s say I work a few days in December, and then I was gonna start in second of January. We did at the time, the corona thing was nothing You might have I mean, maybe I heard or read somewhere that there was something going on in China. I don’t know how to feel about that. But uh, yeah, I was. Yeah. You know, I mean,

Mark Abouzeid 3:11
we all heard first

Ricardo Leon 3:12
Yeah. Yeah, I’ve been there’s something happening and that would say, so in my head for the this year was like, you know, survive those six months, get the job at the end. And luckily, by the end of the first month, they offered me a full time job like a pain. Okay, so like the job until they I don’t know, I mean, I know that my editor my I mean, I’m, my boss is the producer, but the editor is also my boss, but I mean, I know he kind of like, he felt like okay, this guy knows what he’s doing. And then he talked to the producer and you know, pay this guy. Yeah, let’s, let’s keep let’s keep him here, the office. So by the end of January I got the job. But then, I mean, I was gonna get started, started getting paid in March. So okay, I can survive those two. I mean, from six to two, that’s fantastic. Yeah. And then Luckily, I mean, you know, things align, when you feel like you’re going the right direction. The potamia the corona thing came the same time I was going to start getting paid. And of course, there was a lot of doubt with my contract. Not because they say anything that I could feel like all the investor in the project that we’re working, we’re also like, we were always like, Okay, what, what what’s gonna happen? Yeah, Indian, by the way, she my wife, she was traveling, she was on a trip to Colombia. She also having her plans of showing the documentary you saw in the community and all that and so So for I think there were at least at least two weeks, one week, I can’t remember the day when Denmark, you know, officially locked down the borders and you know, people will work from home and all that. But at least there was a one week where I was like, sitting in my computer like, What? What am I supposed to be doing? Like, I brought the equipment from the office to here to home. But at the same time communication, a lot of stuff came in that first week, a lot of time. My editor had a kid a baby, that same week, the same week of the luck, lockdown. Right, right. And that’s he isn’t the first guy to talk, you know, to know what, what I should be doing first.

Ricardo Leon 5:49
Yeah, I mean, it was crazy. But

Mark Abouzeid 5:52
All right, let me because I want to keep this in segments that I could easily put together. That was great answered. Let’s keep A little bit shorter, but I want to highlight some things here. One thing I’m not going to spend too much time talking about is the actual lockdown.

Because I thought a lot of people dealt with a couple issues, but it’s really the before and after, okay to kind of bring people through. But um, yeah, now four months later, or two months later, depending on when your lockdown started four months since, since New Year’s. How’s your life changed? How is your work changing?

Ricardo Leon 6:32

Mark Abouzeid 6:34
are you going let me put that another way? Are you looking at walking out the door to going back to the path you were following and what you expected or have Have you made changes are you going into

Ricardo Leon 6:47
you know, honestly, I mean, after this time working here, I was completely ready to go out and just keep doing what I was doing. Of course, there is this feeling, you know, distance wash your hand all that but to me right now after three weeks from where I started to cold office, I mean, I just feel like I went back to the, to the routine, you know, and everyone at the office, we do wash your hands, but we need to talk to each other. And we need to get back to our life. Yeah, right. So and we have meetings and we need to sit in a small room where the editing suite is and just talk and go back to our live so I feel like yeah, some things change.

Ricardo Leon 7:43
Like being careful but

Ricardo Leon 7:46
but also I have this feeling that everything went back to normal but you know, with this thing in my back of the groan and if I mean, when I get sick, I’m some point I don’t know. I just don’t think About

Mark Abouzeid 8:01
All right, you had to set up a home office, I watched you doing it. That was not your first experience, I’m sure but how did you feel about that? And is that something that you think you’d like to maintain? Or was that more disruptive than being in the editing studio or big? You know,

Ricardo Leon 8:24
I think one thing that it’s always that I do love from, you know, working from home is the flexibility of my time, how to how do I spend my time and, and also, you know, but at the same time, and specifically in this project, where I’m working right now, communication is is always a key, but in this time, it was like very essential, you know, keep a very straight communication with my attitude producers and all that. So, I was I mean, it was not a bad experience. But it was also a little bit of waiting for this guy to answer me when he had the time. I mean, at the office, I just walked to the his office and asked a How do I do this?

Mark Abouzeid 9:16
Yeah, exactly. Say Come on. Where

Ricardo Leon 9:18
is it? Yeah. What was that that you told me to find? Okay, this all right and two minutes and working from home in this condition. It means that I will send a message in the morning and I might debit one midday. But in the meanwhile, of course, I have. I know. I know. I knew what to do. But uh, but I mean, it has good things, but I rather for now use be close to the people you’re working with. Okay.

Mark Abouzeid 9:48
What’s uh, is there anything that you did during lockdown or learned during lockdown or tried during lockdown that you wouldn’t usually have done but you took advantage of the time. Or you were bored or whatever.

Ricardo Leon 10:02
Yeah, ah, I’m very into learning compositing VFX Blender like 3d modeling, it was something that I even did before the getting into the film thing. So, after work, I will just turn off the, I have the Mac here a Mac computer. So I will turn that off and turn on my computer. And, of course, I will take a break and all that but then, at some point later after work, I will, you know, do some tutorials and stuff like that, like, go back to that. I mean, I usually practice for a while to break when I get stuck and then take it again. So that was a during that time I was like, going back to the project of my own of learning this stuff. Okay.

Mark Abouzeid 10:54
The first minute you walk out the door, I mean, maybe going to work the first time the first time you really felt like I’m out the door. What is the first thing you want it?

Ricardo Leon 11:04
What is the first thing you did?

Ricardo Leon 11:06
I went to the supermarket to buy beer.

Ricardo Leon 11:11
Honestly, that was a, there was a whole discussion with my wife because we weren’t very worried about the whole situation and we were ordering online. But at some point, I mean, we cannot order online and be on a queue for, I don’t know, three days, because that was more or less what you have to wait and just going to a supermarket as everyone else. And we get that pack of beers and all this stuff we need that we didn’t buy, you know, so but uh yeah, it was the first time I went out it was just like to the supermarket. buy stuff and stuff that we didn’t order that was now primary but it will be nice to have it when watching a film or something.

Mark Abouzeid 11:53
Okay as life is getting back to normal Is there anything that scares you? Or makes you nervous thinking about this lockdown ending or the next phase?

Ricardo Leon 12:09
That it repeats? Again everyone’s talking about a second wave right and as I heard in summer there will be no more cases like that you know the line will flat or go down around I’m not sure but uh there is always this scenario that we will have a second way and what keeps me worried is that going back to work from home actually, like, ah, back to that situation again. I mean, I can do it yeah, of course, but we have a experience but I just lockdown I think going back to that situation will be

Mark Abouzeid 12:55
alright, let’s even look bigger. Did you during lockdown or even now have any feelings like a lot of people are experiencing either that the pandemic is bringing out the best in people, or the pandemic is what we deserve. Or, you know, did you have any more, let’s say philosophical thoughts of it, or is this just the way things go?

Ricardo Leon 13:20

Ricardo Leon 13:24
I mean, I, in my head, I live in two worlds, then mark and then Latin America. And the way people are handling this situation in these two parts of the war is completely different. since the very beginning, here in Denmark, and after the lockdown, there were Yes, a few days where people were taking care of themselves staying home and all that but at some point, I mean, you will see people walking outside, there was no sign of use of mask, for example, or globe or whatever. In Colombia, Or Venice or like I’m from Venezuela and but in I have family in Colombia as well. And I will hear of people like they will not allow you to get into the supermarket if you don’t have a mass or globe. So it was like leaving these two words completely different two words, right? And then we’ll pick like a we is people. I mean, who’s this stupid one? Who is the one been so much influenced by media? Or who is the one being so naive or who’s What’s going on here? Why these two different scenarios?

Ricardo Leon 14:39
And then a lot of thoughts that will take a lot of time to, you know,

Mark Abouzeid 14:44
to say, and we’ll have years to talk about.

Ricardo Leon 14:48
Yeah, definitely. Definitely.

Mark Abouzeid 14:50
Yeah. Um, how do you think social distancing, continued social distancing, because there’s a part of this we’re going to live with for a while now. How do you think that impacts both your cultures? Because you do have two distinct cultures? And also, do you think it’ll impact your work?

Ricardo Leon 15:13
Well, in my work, I mean, in where we’re where we are working, we share an office with two other companies, let’s say. And we do keep our distance. I mean, there are not that many lunch together and on the table, mostly asked our king, uh, but my point, I mean, I don’t feel that as an issue anymore. The social distancing. I mean, if one of them gets sick, we’re all gonna get sick. That’s, that’s a fact. But I industries when you go out, of course, I mean, you feel like people still like, you know, keep the distance. Okay, you pass first and you know, all that kind of thing in that sense.

Mark Abouzeid 15:57
Yeah, well, let’s even look at it. Yeah. I’ll give you a Stupid example. I like to watch Grey’s Anatomy. I was two thirds of the way through the system through the season and it stops and I was like, wait, that’s not a season ending What’s going on? And I checked and it’s like no, they had to stop filming the season for the Coronavirus. So obviously in editing, in film and everything. Social distancing is impacting at least some of the big productions. I don’t know if it’s gonna impact the smaller one. Yeah,

Ricardo Leon 16:27
I mean, for us, we had a lot of planning on shooting in different countries in US New York. So Saudi Arabia and can remember what else but at all that it has been postponed, and we don’t know when, and we are even discussing it. We are actually gonna shoot those scenes, whatever. I know. I mean, why when I was talking about my work, hey, it’s like we take it easy, but I know I have even read it. Some Facebook groups of people like you can feel the debt desperate. I mean, people that are were used to working as a freelance and their life just stop. And you know, I mean, but I can say much about that. I mean, I don’t know. But I get to I mean, a lot of production just stop. And we’re part of it. I mean, we’re part of this group of, well, we don’t know when are we going to shoot? We’re missing broken.

Mark Abouzeid 17:29
Yeah. And it’s funny because on the one hand, you have this problem of production, and we are as an NGO, but I was just freelance. Here’s one of those examples of everything that came to a screeching stop. There’s no way we can do what we do if we can’t travel.

Ricardo Leon 17:44
Yeah, exactly.

Mark Abouzeid 17:46
But on the other hand, my friends in in distribution are going insane because they’re like just produced we need content. Not only aren’t the big houses produced But people are watching five times more than before they’ve gone through the whole catalog. We need more stuff. So you know, it’s it’s an opportunity, and at the same time a problem.

Ricardo Leon 18:14
Yeah, it will be interesting to hear from someone who works as a distributor, how are they handling these frozen part of the interest industry and at the same time, a high demand, right? I will be interested to hear

Mark Abouzeid 18:26
well, we’re gonna have that later. I’ve got a friend of mine who’s an Emmy Award winning editor in California, who has worked friend TV and other people and obviously has a good feel of the distribution network. So we’re going to be talking to her and also Katelyn gray, a filmmaker artists. What do you call it icon from the 60s and 70s, who released a film at Sundance and got bought and distribution immediately and now they have to rethink the whole distribution strategy because there’s no cinemas to show it. So we’ll get the answers to that somewhere along the line in this series. And that’s the point, I think. Let’s talk to each person and find out their pieces of the puzzle. And I think then all of us will have more information from which to work. Anything else you want to share with us at this point I want to share before we go much further because we keep dancing around it. The name of the film is Adana. It’s a brilliant film. And you can see it on you can see the trailer on real lives but you can also see the original I think still on film freeway and on your show. And I love it. I think it’s great. I want to see you doing more of that, quite frankly, especially when I see your production shots of you in the canoes. It is the perfect example of that kind of field work.

Ricardo Leon 19:57
Yeah, it’s perfect. What’s a really great experience Working in this project, and we keep there we keep a lot of contact with the people there. And we actually got a message yesterday from one of them saying that they, they’re having a hard time as well because because Columbia took like Willy right away is like really hard. You call like restriction and lockdown everyone is supposed to be doing nothing, but nobody has guarantee you, you know, any type of support? And yeah, I’m

Ricardo Leon 20:29
Well, two things I we talk a lot about going back in and one of my planning is to see how this works in situation now and what can be done. Maybe by going through a trip of two weeks, I might have enough to build something and then you know, to a second round of rain, but properly with bonds and all that. Mm hmm. That will be interesting. Because I think it’s a good example, you know, like case to follow over, I don’t know, to focus on this case. And because they still have I mean, they lost the place. They lost the house calling English. But they, when they were extracting the sand, the license and the license are all I mean, nobody’s just listening. It’s like they don’t exist. And when you go to the law, and what it’s supposed to protect and all that it’s just contradictions everywhere and they just don’t exist. So, yeah, it will be nice. And we have talked about going back there. Yeah, I

Mark Abouzeid 21:36
think it’s it’s very relevant. I think what we were looking at doing with the indigenous which we’ve had to put on hold, the issue arose there. Now we’ve got a legal sand mining up there where people are taking it away from the indigenous and they’ve already killed a protector of one of the reserves, Mom and at the same time COVID is has entered the indigenous community so they’re shutting down and isolating. You know, when you’re ready to get back to go back, let’s talk because I definitely want to cover this issue from multiple sides. And I think, you know, I think this is something important I think right now it’s kind of hard because at least for my sake, I feel like entering in this moment I’m not helping there’s too much going on and some communities are choosing guys tonight which may be the best thing for them. The last thing I want to do is be the missionary that brings the flu you know, talk about nice things century

Ricardo Leon 22:39
Yeah, you know, it’s funny when when my wife when the first time to the community around March, March when she was

Ricardo Leon 22:47
one of the

Ricardo Leon 22:50
person living there, we know her as having like, you know, this type of person. I always say really hard stuff that you don’t mean it, you know, and the first thing pinchy say why he didn’t come back after you know last time did you bring the corona thing

Ricardo Leon 23:09
and didn’t think about it we didn’t about that at the time I mean we were not at the

Ricardo Leon 23:16
bomb didn’t explode like you know all the pain lockdown in all these lockdown things that

Ricardo Leon 23:25
yeah you’re right i mean

Ricardo Leon 23:29
i we have also another project that we’re also have them home and just waiting for people to answer me when are they able to be interviewed? Yeah it’s a thing of our own but just waiting for I’m ready to go out and shoot and do interviews but doesn’t depend on me.

Mark Abouzeid 23:50
Yo I understand you know I’m if I shoot slow mo or time lapse or hyperlapse you Have the farmer next door one more time I’m going to like kill the farmer. I don’t know. Yeah. Yeah. Anyway, Ricardo Thank you very much. This has been a great call. It’s nice to check in with you. I want to keep in touch on your projects much more closely if I can. I think there’s a lot of parallels in what we’re doing but I really like what you’re doing.

Ricardo Leon 24:25
Oh, it would be nice to meet again.

Mark Abouzeid 24:26
We will. We will. Alright, have a good day.

Ricardo Leon 24:31
You too. Thanks.

Ricardo Leon 24:33
Break it up. Break it up. I got a bit of a bank to make me a safe house. Shake it up, shake it up. She got a hands on a musician bringing a cake out. Smoking a smoke it up. I got some gas and pack some up in the greenhouse. Pull it up. I’m with the gang taking shots off the rebound.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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