- Why did you decide to work in this industry?
Growing up I thought I wanted to be an author, a teacher or a journalist. In a way I feel like being a documentary filmmaker is a kind of combination of all three of those. I studied fiction filmmaking, but I love listening to people talk about things they’re passionate about, and since I find real people so interesting and inspiring, documentaries became a natural fit for me. It’s such a privilege to be allowed that access to people’s lives, and to be given permission to put their stories on screen.
2) What’s a defining moment in your life?
There was a small but significant moment during the making of “I Used to be Normal” that stands out. I had just landed in Washington DC, traveling from Australia. It was 11pm, and the middle of summer, so it was dark, hot and humid when I got off the plane. I was traveling alone, with all my camera equipment, and I was exhausted. I got into my rental car and began driving to a tiny town in Virginia to do some filming the next day. I was driving on the opposite side of the road to what I’m used to, in a city I’d never been to, to convince people I didn’t know to appear on camera. I remember feeling both crazy and powerful. I thought about all the decisions that had led me to this moment, and all the risks Rita Walsh, my producer, and I, had taken. So many people had laughed at the idea, or tried to change my mind about the project, but I believed so strongly in it. To be on the other side of the world by myself, making a film about boyband fans, having raised just enough money to get me there, in that moment I felt like I could do anything.
3) What is your biggest concern with the future?
Having just become a parent for the first time I’m finding that the things I was already scared and worried about are now amplified. The state of our planet, the greed, inhumanity and shortsightedness we witness in governments and large corporations is now even more alarming and upsetting, as I think about the future my son will have.
I’m also struggling to find a balance between using and enjoying the internet and related technologies and trying to step back and limit the amount my family and I spend using it. The internet has made the world more accessible in so many ways, but I worry about the addictions, anxieties and negativity it manifests and that I’ve witnessed around me. My work relies so much on technology but also the most important part of it is making real and deep connections with my subjects, and I believe that can only happen face to face. I think that more and more, we are all missing out on that face to face time.
4) What is a successful moment in your career so far?
My first documentary, “The Ball” was nominated for an AACTA award, the Australian equivalent of the Academy Awards, which was quite thrilling.
5) What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
I feel like this is our time. We have been silenced for so long, but we have so many surprising and important stories to tell. Don’t let anyone tell you your story isn’t worth telling.
6) What do you collect, if anything?
I’ve moved house a few times in the last few years, so I have culled a lot of my possessions. Though one collection that has survived and grown is my collection of plants. Luckily most of them can survive being a bit neglected.
My dad is an auctioneer of collectibles. I think this has made me a little bit wary about collecting too many things. Through him I’ve seen so many amazing collections – a house jam-packed with 800 clocks, a backyard filled with parts of train tracks from around the world, and a garage bursting with vintage irons.
7) Where can people find out more about you on social media? What is next for you in your career?
News about the film (and boyband memes) can be found at
Instagram – @boybandfangirl
Twitter – @boybandfangirl_
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/boybandfangirl
and my personal twitter is @JessicaLeski
I just recently became a mother, so for the moment that is my focus. But I have a couple of new projects in the very early stages of development and I’m excited about the future stories that are waiting to be told.