GRACE LADOJA: MY LIFE IN FILM
Grace Ladoja is a film director, born and bred in London.
Grace’s work focuses primarily on the documentation of city cultures and subcultures – her first film ‘London to Paris’ documented the journey of ten riders from around the world as they made the cross-channel track bike journey to meet Lance Armstrong at the close of the Tour De France in 2009.
Since then Grace has worked on films for an array of clients and has gone on to found her own production company, Ladoja & Sons. In two short years it has created a name for itself with its steady output of music videos, fashion films and personal projects, becoming a truly unique platform with a heavy creative output. For our second Flyknit Collective workshop surrounding the attributes of ‘Lightness’, we enlisted Grace Ladoja as one of our innovators. Here we speak to her about how her love affair with film began.
“The first time I remember falling in love with film was as a kid at home. I would stay up late and watch films on my own when everyone else was asleep. I grew up in a house with lots of brothers and sisters and I couldn’t go out that much, so instead I’d turn on the TV and watch loads of random films. A moment that has always stuck with me was a time when I was watching a Werner Herzog film and thought, ‘What is this?’ and I wanted to find out more. Those late nights opened me up to European Cinema. They made me realise that film is such a wide medium and not all about Hollywood.
There are two factors that really inspired me to work in film. One was the first time I saw Harmony Korine’s ‘Kids’ – after watching that I became obsessed with all Harmony’s work. I couldn’t believe he was only nineteen when he made it and that there’s was no commercial standpoint. It’s all about the creative aspect of film which is so rare and that inspired me to want that free energy in my films. He and Spike Jonze are my biggest influences – Harmony on a feature film level and Spike Jonze on a cultural level.
For me, the way Spike embodied his community at the start of his career, the way he’d shoot skate films with his mates in his own environment and the fact he wasn’t doing it to gain anything – recognition, work, or otherwise, – - yet it led onto so many other things for him is incredible. I would love to be able to make films about my environment, who I’m surrounded by and the things I know.
When I was 19, I went to a Q&A at Cannes film festival with the director Martin Scorsese. He’s another person that has always focused on what he knows and uses that in his films. His technique is so different to Harmony and Spike but the way he works is still so valid to me. He tries to identify with the characters in his own films, absorbing them though his own experiences to make them relatable to his audience.
When I went to school, I wanted to make commercials but add an artistic slant. But after going to college and studying media and film, I wanted to do the complete opposite. I found that the commercial industry is too controlled, the creativity in that field was too minimal for me.
My first job was at a company called Crooked Tongues, I managed to place myself within the film department and I started working with Nike. It was the first time I realised that sports, lifestyle, culture and film can all come together and that you can be creative working with commercial clients, which I found very liberating. I began working on small brand features and when I eventually left the company I took all that knowledge with me and started my own business, Ladoja & Sons.
I met my business partner Jordan Stokes at college. After graduation we realised that we shared so many of the same ideas that coming together and starting our own company made sense. Since then our studio has become a bit a creative hub. You’ll always find friends and family hanging out, be it Cassette Playa, Kesh or our friends from the States and Europe. We feed their energy into our company. At the moment it feels like we have almost gone backwards and we want to stop working so much on the commercial side of things and concentrate heavily on the creative. When we release one of our films we want to put out an energy as well as a unique product.
Personally, I’m obsessed with idea of a community and the aspect of communities in films, so I’m looking forward to being part of the Flyknit Collective workshop. Youth culture is also so important to me, I love the youth, I feel like the youth have so many opportunities but they don’t know it, so I really wanted to be part of creating some awareness of what is going on in their own back yard and make some sick films with them too!
It’s so important to give the youth some creative aspiration and inspiration too. I feel like a lot of people who I know came from nothing and the youth need to know that if you are a creative and have an idea, you can make it happen. So to be around to help inform them is amazing.
I’m also excited to be working with Tyrone Lebon. Although he is a friend, he inspires me all the time and while our work can be at opposite scales I feel like I can learn from him so I’m sure on the workshop all the kids will feel the same too. I actually can’t wait.”
Flyknit Collective Workshop: ‘Lightness’ kicks off on Monday 25th June 2012 at 1948.
HARMONY KORINE AND SPIKE JONZE ARE MY BIGGEST INFLUENCES