Lea Esmaili, first steps in the world of images

Lea Esmaili, born and raised in Paris is a young director who Kumo was able to interview for the release of her new short film, Home. Even if she thought that it was too late for her to pursue a career in cinema, the young creator got herself in the world of images only a year ago with photography and then with videos, now, always looking for a new way of transcribing emotions in visuals.

Lea, can you tell us what was your first introduction to arts and cinema?

I always knew since I was 15 that I would later in my life pursue a « career » in cinema but I started really late to actually do it. I think my first work was only a year ago where I photographed the BLM protests in Paris. Since then I never stopped, in a way, it escalated very quickly. 

So I started with little videos on Instagram called “interlude break” where I would take album interludes and make up a little story. I saw that people liked it and it gave me confidence for the future. It was very intimidating to post my art on social media but now I don’t worry about that anymore. It’s above all, all about the pleasure of sharing emotions with people. I’m thinking of continuing this series because I really enjoyed it. 


What was the inspiration behind your latest movie: Home?

Home is both a very personal and very impersonal project. I wanted to tell a short story but one that everyone could relate to in one way or another. And what better than talk about the most universal thing in the world: love. Moreover, I wanted to avoid talking about a subject that I, myself, didn’t really understand, which I thought would have taken away any legitimacy. It is also a tribute to certain movies and directors who have influenced me, almost every scene is a reference to a movie. What inspires me the most would be music; I would just sit and explore my Spotify for new music and artists almost every day. A good movie is a movie with a great soundtrack, right?


Now coming back to your career, what do you think was one of its most important moments?

For 3 years I was doing a double degree in law and international business. Oddly enough, even if I think that these studies delayed my launch into video, I’m quite grateful for it because during those years I was able to learn film culture, learn to edit and give some quality to my early work. Yet, now when I look back at what I was doing, I just hate it [laughs]

For me, the free time outside my classes was devoted to photography, editing, writing… and I’m working on it so that one day it can become more than just my hobby.

What is next? 

I think Home is the first step towards what I really aspire to, which is real film and filmmaking. Seeing one of my works screened in a cinema really confirmed to me that what I had in mind since I was 15 years old was not just a desire but my life project. 

Then, this year I will be starting a film school for at least 2 years specializing in directing. So personally and professionally my life is going to be all about film and I can’t wait! I am writing my second short film which will be supported by a real production team, it will be longer and in a completely different genre than HOME. 

I also have an idea for a video that I would like to shoot in October. 

And finally, I still want to work in the music industry with music videos, and directing the artistic vision of an entire project or album, and last but not least continue to grow Far From Basic. 

Do you work with other young artists? How do these collaborations influence you and your work?

Aaah Far From Basic is the family! It’s an independent label that takes care of all the aspects that an artist needs to develop (management, production and visuals). There is a sound engineer, a graphic designer and I take care of the video part. But, for me, above all, it’s the most beautiful human experience of my year. I joined last January, and I was the only girl in the label, but they welcomed me with open arms and so much love and strength, I feel like I’m their little sister. And these people are so talented and hardworking, it’s a joy to be surrounded by these guys. They will go so far in their field!

This year, especially with the guys at Far From Basic, I have surrounded myself with real hard workers, passionate people who aspire to reach the sky. And then I see a lot of my friends around me really going pro whether it’s in music or anything else. So there’s this energy of hard work and positive strength around me that is essential: being well surrounded is the most important thing. And I love the fact that we pull ourselves to the top. I feel a new wave coming in, whether it’s in music or in the visual direction and I am loving it!

There are very few girls in this field but it makes you want to prove things even more; I’ve already heard comments like “but did you really do that?” when talking about my work … 


Finally, who would you love to collaborate with, in Music, Visual Art and Design?

One of my dreams would be to one day work on a video with Quentin Deronzier. It goes beyond talent, it’s just magical what he manages to do! 



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