Today we’re having a little chat with directors duo LEONELRUBEN. Hello guys, great to have you around, celebrating your new release US AND THE UNIVERSE, one of many recently dropped projects. Let’s watch it first and continue with a few simple questions.


Powerful and poetic figures, poetic words, poetic imagery – What was/is your vision, the initial idea, the drive? What was the shooting and editing process like?

Ruben: As we both come from documentary-filmmaking and grew up absolutely loving Hollywood feature films we both have an intrinsic need to tell stories in all our projects, whether it’s a commercial or any other format. In this particular case, we worked together with the very talented Mr. Maximilian Pittner (DoP) who helped us to break down some scenes in order to simplify them and tell certain things through style… The Vision was a mood-driven, gloomy and dreamlike short-film. So, yes, the shooting process is probably the most intense one but also my most favorite episode of the whole job.

Leonel: The editing was quite intuitive. We’ve edited the material with some Krautrock music and it matched from the beginning. Our musician Antimo Sorgente interpreted our idea his way and created this melancholic dreamy atmosphere which really suited the concept and our vision. Maria Dragus the narrator and Claudio Demel our sound Designer jumped on this track as well. We didn’t have to push anyone in any direction, it all came naturally by their interpretation of the footage.

You’re on tour a lot, how’s developing concepts and executing them abroad – Perfect Preparation or the Magic of Improvisation? (Any special moments)

Leonel: Generally, we prepare our movies with a list of creative rules and moods, we like to set up a strict manifesto which mostly comes from fictional movies, but also documentaries, fashion, architecture and all sorts of stuff we read or get inspired by.

Ruben: Well, on set we’re always up to create intimate situations between us and the actors. The best tool is humor/ not taking yourself too seriously… We both did it before and enjoy acting too, so we don’t shrink back getting in the picture ourselves.


As if all your figures belong to one weird and colorful universe, could meet at a beach party one day… How do you develop your concepts, choose your characters, the words… What is it like working as a duo? What are your creative patterns?

Leonel:  Right now Ruben says hello from L.A. and I’m in the train to Frankfurt to join there in a couple of hours… There is no general way of how we develop a film. Every project is an (unknown) journey. We both feel attracted to edgy people and shady places but there must always be a sign of dignity, soul or sunshine. Mostly it starts with a character or a place or a specific microcosm where it all begins, we then start building a story around it… I would say we are driven by our fetishes. But who isn’t?

Ruben: In terms of jobs it’s perfect because we have a lot of passion projects on the side. One of us can always step in fully while the other one takes the phone calls here or attends a meeting there. We work pretty fast when we intertwine our minds and schedules.

A life creating films – What would be the best advice? And what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far as a filmmaker?

Ruben:  In terms of filmmaking I have to go with my man Lenin – trust is good but control is better, in all other parts of life I wish it’d be the other way around.

What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?

Leonel: When I started to become interested in films I loved the gangster and contemporary movies like Heat, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, Pusher f.e. later on I discovered the bizarre, edgy and provocative movies from Herzog, Korine, Seidl, Noe, von Trier. From there I moved into genre filmmaking and Asian cinema like J.-P. Melville, von Sternberg, Douglas Sirk, Hou Hsiao-hsien, or Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Best contemporary filmmakers for me are Denis Villeneuve, Safdie Brothers. All-time favorites like Kubrick and Lynch. There are just too many good movies…

Ruben: Okay, to name some more: True Romance, American Psycho, Wolf OF Wall Street, Dog Day Afternoon, Thief, Kids… And when it comes to documentaries: Hoop Dreams, The Thin Blue Line, Grizzly Man


If you could remake a classic film and put your own twist on it, which one would it be?

Leonel: I would love to do a remake of a Josef von Sternberg/ Marlene Dietrich Film like Shanghai Express. I like the idea of this dubious ensemble where any character is not the person it pretends to be.

Ruben: I choose CRY BABY and would take it into the world of today’s Soundcloud Emo Rapper Kids like XXXTENTACION and LIL PEEP because this particular youth culture triggers me.

Most unforgettable moment in film?

Leonel: The flying nuns on BMX bikes in Mister Lonely.


Which Creative would you like to have a drink with?

Leonel: Safdie Brothers

Ruben: Boots Riley

Costume Dept, Camera, Characters – Your films are very playful and sensory experiences. Your chance to give a shout out to your best partners in crime!  

Leonel: All the people we worked with since we are a duo were more than inspiring and uptempo and great to share work-experience with. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Big things ahead, what can we expect from you in the near future?

Ruben: We wrote the outline of a series, are looking forward to shooting the pilot this or next year, looking forward to shooting our next feature film one day, but first things first…

Thanks a lot & bon voyage, we’re looking forward to new projects!