The remarkable, untold story of Leon Vitali who gave up fame and fortune to serve for decades as Stanley Kubrick’s right-hand man.
It’s a rare person who would give up fame and fortune to toil in obscurity for someone else’s creative vision. Yet, that’s exactly what Leon Vitali did after his acclaimed performance as Lord Bullingdon in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. The young actor surrendered his thriving career to become Kubrick’s loyal right-hand man. For more than two decades, Leon played a crucial role behind-the-scenes helping Kubrick make and maintain his legendary body of work. The complex, interdependent relationship between Leon and Kubrick was founded on devotion, sacrifice and the grueling, joyful reality of the creative process. By entering their unique world we come to understand how the mundane gives rise to the magnificent as timeless cinema is brought to life at its most practical and profound level.
- Leon Vitali
- Ryan O’Neal
- Matthew Modine
- R. Lee Ermey
- Marie Richardson
- Stellan Skarsgård
- And many more…
“That’s what I am. I’m a filmworker. I do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
As Kubrick aficionados we were well aware of Leon Vitali: assistant to the director. We admired his great performances in Barry Lyndon and Eyes Wide Shut and we knew he had been a key member of Kubrick’s inner circle for many years. When we finally met Leon through our work on another related project, we were struck by his kindness, humility and the fascinating scope of his story. Here was a man who had been a successful actor at a young age, but had given up his high-profile, glamorous life to work tirelessly behind-the-scenes for Kubrick. What compelled him to make such an unusual, self-sacrificing choice? Filmworker explores the bittersweet consequences of Leon’s life-changing decision, and the fierce exhilaration of working closely with one of the most brilliant yet demanding artists in cinema history.
Director Tony Zierra has been fascinated by the power of storytelling and cinema since he was a child. His first documentary, Carving Out Our Name, follows the lives of four actors hoping to find success in Hollywood. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to much acclaim. Next, Zierra went on the road to capture America’s reaction to the attacks of September 11th. The film that emerged, titled USA The Movie, explores the cyclical nature of violence and retaliation. Zierra’s award-winning documentary, My Big Break, is a cautionary tale about the darker side of celebrity and the consequences of fame that also includes his struggle to make his first film.
Producer Elizabeth Yoffe is head of the production company True Studio Media. She worked as a casting director for many film and television projects including David Lynch’s classic series Twin Peaks, Waiting For The Light starring Shirley MacLaine and Dogfight starring River Phoenix. She produced the award-winning documentary My Big Break as well as the controversial film USA The Movie. She also produced the award-winning Independent Film Channel favorite Brightness starring Eric Idle, and co-produced the Toronto International Film Festival Official Selection Carving Out Our Name. Yoffe served as president of Cinewomen, L.A., a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the role of women in film. Her work as a freelance writer has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, The Week, Natural Health, and Healing Journal.