Filmworker (2017)

Filmworker (2017) is an unexpectedly emotional documentary about the late great Stanley Kubrick’s assistant Leon Vitali.

Leon is often seen in the backgrounds of photographs of Kubrick on set, look closely at these photographs and you’ll see that Leon looks busy and stressed sometimes, while Kubrick has the air of calm directorial authority.

Watching the documentary you slowly start to learn about the commitment that Leon made to Stanley. Beyond everything, Leon gave Stanley his life and career, and Stanley took it, used it, and chewed it up, spat it out and put it in his pocket. And Leon didn’t mind. He was committed to Stanley’s art and to Stanley. They worked together, on all aspects of the films Stanley was making and ‘had’ already made.

I mention this because Stanley never really finished with a film – Kubrick kept his films close like children and they never really went out anywhere without his supervision.  So, years later, when 2001 was being remastered for Blu-Ray (even after Kubrick’s death) Leon was there, colour timing the negative in the lab – to Stanley’s exact specification – it’s also not entirely clear who was paying Leon to be there – indeed, the documentary suggests that nobody was paying him – Leon, even after Stan’s death was helping the master out of pure devotion…

Leon was a good actor, and had a promising career before he gave it up to work with Kubrick. He did end up acting for again, from time to time for Kubrick. Most notably in Eyes Wide Shut where he played multiple masked roles in the orgy sequence and famously the ‘Red Cloak’ character.

The documentary is both fascinating and very sad. Leon is an almost unique character in the film business, much like the director he served, the likes of both men we may never see again…

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on or hire him on Peopleperhour