When discussing the merits of any film, the actors and director almost always take centre stage. The cinematographer and composer might get a mention, and occasionally the editor, but this is the exception rather than the rule. As anyone who has ever sat waiting for the post-credit scene(s) on a Marvel film will attest, there are a lot of people involved in the creation of a motion picture. Some play small roles. Many are replaceable. But a few filmworkers, such as Leon Vitali, are worth their weight in gold.
Vitali started-out as an actor who was just beginning to make a name for himself. When he met Stanley Kubrick. After answering a casting-call he landed a minor role in Barry Lyndon. Impressed with his work-ethic, Kubrick extended the part. Five years later Vitali received a call from the maestro asking him to come and work on a film he was developing; The Shining. He became indispensable, working all hours to ensure that it was a huge hit. He continues to ‘work for’ the estate long after the director’s death.
Filmworker is a riveting portrait of a man whose skill, dedication, hard work and willingness to follow orders to the letter, led to him becoming Stanley Kubrick’s right-hand man. Leon Vitali is a lively subject who views his work as a lifetime commitment. It has clearly taken a toll on his health and personal life, but he’ll doggedly keep going until the very end. Tony Zierra’s documentary is a fascinating insight into the work which goes on behind the scenes and an entertaining portrait of a truly dedicated and incredibly accomplished man.
Filmworker is out in cinemas and on demand from 18 May.