With stay-at-home orders becoming the norm in most communities, artists are starting to rediscover their love for art and new ways of showcasing it. We sat down with director and visual artist, Lesetja, to discuss his career and plans for the future.
Below is a transcript of our conversation.
How did you become a director and visual artist?
I was fortunate to attend public high school where the district valued art. Juniors and seniors were educated on proper video technology. It was a private program, but the organizers worked with our video teachers to make sure we could provide news for the school. After that pleasant experience, I chose to study Film Production in college. When the work came I jumped at it.
I landed my first paid gig in Berkeley. I was finishing up some of my last multimedia production classes and I got invited to be Director of Photography on set of many different projects. At that time, the Bay Area was a hub for documentary filmmakers from across the globe, and money was good. Next thing I knew, I was a production intern with a major production company where I got paid to relearn the basics of lighting and rigging in a studio.
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Would you say that internship was your ah-ha moment? When you realized this could be your reality?
In a way yes, but ultimately, my ah-ha moment occurred in the beginning of my college career. One of my best friends invited me to a show with one of the biggest artists I’d ever shot (at the time). My intention was to shoot video but when I got there I realized I didn’t have the proper space to shoot, so I opted for stills. I was able to get a few good shots and everyone was happy.
That moment taught me many things. One, I realized how much I loved this world and was impressed with how I was able to quickly think on my feet. I guess it was also a reminder that I don’t have to stay locked into one medium.
Speaking of mediums, do you find it hard to stick to one medium?
Not at all. I try to use as many mediums as I have access to. Each project has a different function for it’s audience so the form or how the vision is executed will always take a unique shape. As a filmmaker I think the appreciation and understanding of all art forms is key to a good representation of human existence.
I think that makes a very well rounded artist as well. What types of projects do you usually work on?
I’m currently in the process of transitioning from short form music videos and web advertisements to narrative shorts and features. My goal is to give audiences characters in my life, who represent the people I dreamt of being when I was young.
It sounds like you want to give back to all the people who were/are role models in your life?
Definitely. Since I was young, I was always exposed to a lot of creativity and innovation. I have had a lot of great teachers in school and out of school. That is the key. As a filmmaker every shoot incorporates a village. If you’re smart, you’ll learn something from everyone. Before you get to the village however, you’ll have to learn some skills to keep you working throughout your career. I can’t stress enough what practical teachings do for the creative mind.
How are you dealing with the current state of the world in relation to your art?
This new digital landscape has opened me up to a grip of new styles for creating art and exhibiting it. At this age my goal is stability. I’ve spent way too many years of my life drenched in chaos. My focus now during this social-distancing time and possibly beyond, is producing a short film and turning it into a feature by next year.