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Your Stories – Meet Leto

Name: Leto

Degree: Bachelor of Communication, majoring in Media Arts Production

Why did you decide to do a communications degree?

In year 10, a careers advisor asked us “what do you want to do?”. People were saying standard occupations, but I wanted to be more interesting so I said film making, and ever since then it’s essentially chosen my degree for me. I realised I now had to become ‘the movie guy’, so I started to watch a lot more. I hadn’t shot anything, but I taught myself screenwriting. I’ve been doing that for a while, I’ve written about 50 screen plays though most aren’t finished.  

I started Tafe after school because I wanted to meet more people interested in filmmaking like me. It was a cert 3 or 4 in film and television; I was enjoying it until covid hit in 2020 when it all went online. I wasn’t meeting anybody, and it was a very entry level course, so I was learning things I already knew. Eventually I stopped going to classes and decided to just work for a couple of years. About a year ago I met people who were studying film and they inspired me to try uni. I had money saved up from working so knew I could drop back and work on the degree full time. In the long run I’d be happy as a screenwriter, but I also enjoying making films and acting in them.  

Leto on a trip to the Blue Mountains with his friends

I like to think movies aren’t my entire life, but I do talk about them a lot. I don’t have a back-up plan. I don’t want to work in a 9-5 job, I want to use my imagination to build a career and decide my own workflow. I’m putting all my eggs in one basket here but I’m quite confident I can make it.  

What kind of films do you enjoy?

I used to just love crime and gangster films, but I can deal with more emotional concepts now. One of my favourite movies is Two Hands, a classic Australian gangster film from the 90s with Heath Ledger. It’s a similar genre to my screenplays, I watched it and thought wow, this is everything I wanted and have been working towards. It was rewarding to see the concept being done. Every Australian should see it, it’s a classic and one I recommend to everyone. 

I watched another one called Pandemonium, which you probably can’t find any information on, it’s very niche. Believe it or not, I actually found the DVD left in the bread section at work. It has a convoluted plot, like an arthouse film. If it wasn’t Australian, I probably wouldn’t have liked it but it’s just wild, it’s a trip.  

Leto’s green wall, which he painted because he wanted a green screen when he was younger, covered with ideas for a story stripped down to smaller scenes. 

Do you want to sell your screen plays?

It’s tricky, especially with AI. Writers are striking at the moment over job security concerns with it. I’ve tried using AI to write screenplays but it’s clunky and takes all the fun out of it. I’m not too worried but I feel like it’ll be harder to sell original scripts when you’re up against people using AI. When you submit a screen play, often they’ll only read the first five pages or skip to the hooks, it’s tricky to break into the field and grab their attention when you’re up against so many others. Creative jobs were considered untouchable, people chose them because they thought robots couldn’t create that stuff, but things are changing. I don’t think it’s at a job-threatening level yet but who knows in another 10 or 20 years. If I’m going to make a career of it, I have to start directing my own screenplays and build a name for myself, they might give me more of a chance if they see my work and what I can do.  

The book where Leto would handwrite screenplays, before he could get proper screenwriting software 

Do you have any advice?

This one goes out to all the shy kids, get out there and meet others. People won’t remember bad interactions as much as they will the good ones and you’re going to have plenty of good interactions. My best friend and I met here at uni, we were in the same class and eventually started talking, turns out we had a mutual friend and we got along so well. So just take the chance to say hi and don’t be afraid to collaborate.  

Leto studying on campus

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