Claire Leona Apps: Filmmaker

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Bio:

Claire Leona Apps was raised in Asia before relocating to Britain, where she graduated in Pure Mathematics at Imperial College before an MA at the London Film School. Writing and directing credits include “Gweipo” (starring Francesca Annis, winner of ‘Best Short’ at Tiger Far East Film Festival and ‘Special Jury Prize’ at AFIA Film Festival), documentary “Aceh Recovers” shot in Indonesia, stop animation “Plastic Love” (Filmaka level winner), “Girl Blue Running Shoe” (seen at the Great North Museum, on BBC1 and Cork Film Festival), “Ruminate” (Starring Rebecca Hall, St. Louis International Film Festival).

Her debut feature film, “And Then I was French” (screened at East End Film Festival, Middlebury Film Festival) was nominated for best thriller at the National Film Awards in London, and Little White Lies and Hero Magazine announced it as a “must see”. The film, starring Joanna Vanderham (“What Maisie Knew”, “The Paradise”) is a kooky, genre-twisting thriller with a surrealist tilt aimed at young adults and released through Summer Hill Films across Amazon, iTunes, Xbox, and DVD in 2018. “Bat and the Kid”, her next script, was final three at EWA Berlinale Residency.

What do I do best?

I look at things from all angles and sometimes this allows me to see a perceptive outside of the norm. I believe it’s always important to question the status quo. Often the stories that have been told for years need to be questioned for our society to become stronger. Over the last few years this has become more of a mainstream thought, which I’m really happy to see. You can see me utilize this skill in my feature film ‘And Then I was French’ – the story is about turning the traditional rom-com of girl meets boy, girl transforms to gain the love of the boy, and they live happily ever after. In my film I question if fulfilling this narrative truly leads to happiness. Or is it worthwhile to fight for your own meaning of self.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Balance. I am constantly striving towards equilibrium. As someone who has an active mind and imagination, I need to balance myself most days through a strong yoga practice, eating healthy and occasionally letting loose and having some vino.

What are my aspirations?

I aspire to make films that induce thought. I want my work to stay with the audience afterwards. Even if it’s a fleeting thought about my work being strange or beautiful - but ideally to consider why I told that particular story and what it means. I’m not looking to create a passive experience. I hope to leave you with a level of thought, friction or feeling. You can go elsewhere for your junk food, I get it – I do too.  

My Biggest Success?

Completing and getting distribution for my debut feature, “And Then I was French”. It’s out in the world for people to see. Childhood dream! You can watch it on Amazon, right now.

My Most Challenging Moment?

When I was sixteen I decided to leave my family in Hong Kong to study in the UK. I didn’t want to change school systems later on. I handled this the way I do most things: I made the decision, start planning and the magnitude didn’t hit me until the cusp of it happening. It wasn’t until I said goodbye to my parents, knowing they were going far away that I realized how much of an emotional challenge up rooting your life truly is. If you remind yourself you have done things for a reason and to take each moment as it comes - you figure out a way through. It turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done.

My Motto?

I try to remember that stress and change are part of life. You need to feel discomfort in order to evolve. The lobster theory that Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski says resonates with me. He parallels how a lobster sheds shells to why humans must experience stress and vulnerability. The lobsters need to feel uncomfortable in order to know it’s time for them to move on and so must we. I guess my motto has been: regret what I have done, instead of what I have not.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My role models for work are generally strong female storytellers, for example: Margaret Atwood and Donna Tartt. I also admire visionary and unique directors like Cronenberg and Park Chan-Wook.

My favorite people are my friends and family. When you have a strong bond with others and are invested in their successes, it’s easy to be proud of the people you love. I have some friends that have written books that are being published and another that has a successful perfume business - it’s so wonderful to watch them succeed at these challenges and for the out comes to be so wonderful. At the same time, I have friends that have brought adorable humans into this world, and that is a bucket load of challenges too.

My parents will always awe me. They have broken through boundaries I have never had. Through all their life challenges they have loved the world and explore it as much as possible. It’s given me a very unique perspective; to feel part of a world community. This would not have been so automatic if I had not grown up all over the place, due to their bravery.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I will always love Indonesia. And Bali in particular. I spent my very early life in Indonesia (from 2 to 6 years old) and there is something about the smell, colors, woodcarvings and architecture that make me feel like I’m returning somewhere that is mine. It is so beautiful. Indonesians are so friendly. And I would happily have Gamelan music be the soundtrack to my life. 

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I collect marionettes. I like objects that are human representations. Puppets, dolls, masks and mannequins: love them all.  I had a doll collection as a child, picking up a doll that represented any place I would visit. Interwoven in this is the idea of story telling. How you choose to tell the story of your people and your history.  Or the stories that you tell your children: Who we are / what we should be careful of / what we should strive to be. Stories are important and I like the toys that have been used to tell them. You will either find my home creepy or super cool depending about how you feel about unusual objects!

My Current Passions?

I’m passionate about yoga. I have been for a more then a decade. It is entwined with how I live my life. Along side my filmmaking; I became a yoga teacher five years ago and also a Thai yoga massage therapist. It’s easy to consider life a ladder, always climbing to the top. Yoga works to contradict this and refocuses me. Plus the philosophy for the most part is not a bad way to live. Striving to be un-harming and constantly learning, are not horrible goals!