Writer-director Leonid Andronov on his post-pandemic pivot to writing books

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Leonid Andronov, who was born in Russia but now lives in LA, knows the film industry inside out, having worked in almost every role from sound recording to production. Best known for writing and directing, his first feature film was ‘29th Kilometer’ – based on his experiences of being in a rock band – which was followed by several short films shot and produced in Los Angeles. Since the pandemic, Leonid has been writing books, but he’s also looking forward to directing a horror movie later this year. He talks about telling stories, staying resilient, and how he gets his ideas…

Tell us about your latest projects?

“There are several projects. One of my books has just been published in Russia. It’s the story of a war reporter who has to come back to London after being injured in Africa. His rich grandfather, who hasn’t talked to him for years, hires him to conduct a private investigation into a stolen precious stone that their family owned for a century. Also, I’m finishing another novel in English now. It’s a thriller about a father and daughter going to Burning Man before her wedding. The daughter is bipolar and the father is a priest. Yes, that’s how crazy I am! And finally, when I was at the Cannes Film Festival, I got an offer to write and direct a small horror movie. We’re going to have a location-scouting in June and hopefully start shooting in September.”   

With such a wide range of talents, how do you describe what you do?

“I always think of myself as a writer-director. In the 11 years since I moved to Los Angeles, I’ve worked in many positions. I recorded sound, drew storyboards, was a set dresser, a production designer, a driver, a first assistant director, I produced a little, and I’ve been writing, writing, and writing. But I came to the US after my first feature film was released in Russia. I started with a feature-length film, which not many people do! So I’m always working on a new thing. Now, since Covid, when everything changed and so many projects fell apart, I started turning some of my scripts into books. First, I published a two-volume fantasy novel in Russia in 2020-2021, now we are working on the English translation. Meanwhile, I’ve produced an audiobook for it, and besides I wrote a script for a comedy that was released in cinemas in 4 countries in 2022. After all, I’m still working on getting funds for my next films.” 

Photo credit: Mikhail Samoshkin

What was it like being at Cannes this year?

“It has such a unique atmosphere. I don’t know any other place like it; people are so excited and full of energy. And ideas pop up. For example, the horror-movie project was born when I was sitting with my executive producer Igor Yisark and a distributor at the Producers’ Lounge in the Palais talking about completely different things. Suddenly we started to talk about abandoned mines and towns in California. Igor is a big fan of off-road rides and he knows so many interesting places that nobody has ever seen. We began to talk about how cool it would be to shoot a movie, so… basically we are going to do it now!”

And you’re working on a French project?

“There was another idea that we discussed with my good friend Marianne Bourg, a well-known actress who lives between LA and Luxembourg. We want to take one of my theatre plays, translate the script into French (Marianne will help me with that) and shoot it in Luxembourg. Why not? It will be a challenge, and I’m very excited to try something new. It’s a universal story about a family – a grandmother, mother and son with troubled relationships based on their love and hate for each other. Can love kill? Sometimes.”

You’ve also won a few awards in the entertainment industry…

“Yes, but I’m more interested in getting my projects to the audience. I’m focused on making each of them valuable for a viewer or a reader.

“I must make my stories intriguing and interesting – that’s my job.”

If I’m going to get an award for my work, great. But the audience response is more valuable to me.”