Interview with Leanna Judge, New Creatives

In this interview with the creator of Justin, What Have You Done To Us? we look at the production and creative decisions behind this surreal film about fandom.

Read our review of Justin, What Have You Done To Us? here

New Creatives is a talent development scheme supported by Arts Council England and BBC Arts. Check out our New Creatives coverage in the New Creatives Voicebox.

Full transcript


Hi there. Thank you for tuning in. My name is Chris Hill and I'm a contributor to Voice Magazine: an online space for young people interested in arts and culture. Today, I'm talking to Lea about their piece for the BBC New Creatives: Justin What Have You Done to Us? How are you doing this morning? Lea? 

[00:00:21] Lea: 

I'm good, I'm good. Thank you for chatting to me.

[00:00:24] Chris:

That's absolutely fine! So, let's kind of dive right in. What inspired you to go for this particular subject matter? 

e279da0a996449ddc368cc43e2eba22c033dadcc.jpegCredit: Joanne Coates[00:00:31] Lea:

Well, I was probably when I was like 13, 14, 15, I was just a massive Justin Bieber fan. I was very entrenched in that when I was younger and then kind of got over it and shunned it because I became into pop punk.

[00:00:46] So I was embarrassed about it. And then I sort of probably like a year and a half ago, just started thinking about how bizarre it is to be infatuated with like a teenage icon. I just became really interested in it. I'm really interested in that pop culture and stuff like that. So, I wanted to think back about what my experience had been like.

[00:01:06] Chris:

That kind of answers my next question of: why Justin Bieber, but I guess, on a kind of related note: why do you think Justin Bieber? Cause I mean, we all, we've all heard of Bieber Fever. There's an established idea that was present within pop culture at the time. Why do you think Bieber in particular kind of generated this huge and like quite passionate following?

[00:01:31] Lea: 

I think first of all, I think he was the ideal young floppy haired, like had a cute face, had a little, nice voice. But I think it was the way he was marketed, like the way he was picked up by his record company and things like that. Like, they had an agenda, they knew what they were doing. They knew he was the right person to choose. 

[00:01:50] Chris:

No, definitely. I think that's, that's all contributing parts to it. And the marketing of individual artists very much can sway to a really quite dramatic extent, the public opinion of an artist. 

[00:02:04] Lea: 

I think he came at a really interesting point I think I guess it was Twitter and things like that were starting to really like pick up. I mean, he was found on YouTube he is like a product of the internet. 

[00:02:14] Chris:

Huh I didn't know he started out on Youtube.

[00:02:19] Lea: 

Yeah. Yeah. He was found on YouTube by his manager.

[00:02:22] Chris:

Why don't you give a little synopsis of what your little short film's about?

[00:02:26] Lea:

So, it's about a group of Justin Bieber fans who go through a witch-like ceremony, and they're trying to give up their love for Justin Bieber. I guess it was this idea of me like looking back, it was almost like the film was closure in a way, like shutting the lid on this, like part of my life.

[00:02:49] Chris:

Cool. As you say, it's kind of got these dancers and actors who are performing this kind of cult-like ritual, So this kind of cult-like following of a celebrity is really at the core of this piece, and the kind of ways that modern rituals have been set up around them and kind of making them analogous to these ancient rites and witchy rituals. So, do you want to talk about your inspirations for using that kind of imagery a little? 

[00:03:16] Lea: 

Yeah! I decided to go down this, thinking about like the, witchy route as well, because it's really like grounded in the female teenage experience, and I think teenage girls get a bit vilified and taken the mickey out of for getting really passionate about pop-stars or things like that.

[00:03:36] And I just wanted to like, play into that because I find it ridiculous that that happens yet teenage boys are sort of , well, that's a massive generalisation, but the idea of like football, like fans and things like that, it's the same kind of dedication and fanatic... fanaticism I guess.

[00:03:52] And I just want you to play into that. So I wanted it to be bright pink and just like completely over-feminized to play into the idea of, yeah, these like witchy girls who are like, you don't understand what they're going- like what's going through their mind and things like that. And I love thinking about like the way that, witches were like vilified, and how that links to the way that females are still treated now. 

[00:04:16] Chris:

So, what do you think led into the sort of… ‘cause there's lots of Greco-Roman influences, in the art style, the set-dressing, all this kind of thing. What leant you towards that? 

[00:04:29] Lea:

Yeah, I guess with the set, because originally it was going to be like a documentary and include also like a witchy ceremony, but also include personal stories. But I decided to just go towards this witchy ceremony to like, take it in a much more sort of metaphorical sort of arty direction, I guess. In terms of the set, I think the set almost represents, if I close my mind and think about me during that time, I sort of imagine myself in this like, haze of pink and surrounded by like, you've got the chair and the curtains and stuff, their sort of aspects of my, like, teenage bedroom.

[00:05:08] And then I created this shrine that they're worshiping him at. So, I just was trying to bring all these aspects together that, and yeah, linking, like the past with the shrine but then also like modernizing it with some other aspects of it. Yeah. 

[00:05:21] Chris:

I guess first of all, do you think there is, still a kind of presence of this idea of celebrity worship?

[00:05:26] Lea: 

Yeah, I think so. And I think it's only got bigger because, obviously you have like Beatlemania and things like that, and even if you think about like Lord Byron and the way he was like the first celebrity almost. I think it's just changed in a way, because you now have so much access to celebrities through the internet that you can just find out everything about them.

[00:05:47] You can spend hours listening to interviews and things like that and find out the smallest details about them. But I think it's only going to get bigger. I think it's certainly changed. I think audiences have a bit more power over who becomes a celebrity. If you think of like, TikTok stars and things like that, it's not so much a record company's like: "Oh, we're going to sign this person and make them really big."

[00:06:10] That does still happen, but you've also got people who have only become famous because of the internet. I don't know, but I can never really make sense of why someone's become a celebrity. It's such a like cultural phenomenon, and for everyone who does become a celebrity there's like 10 other people or hundreds of other people that have done really similar things and could have been in that position.

[00:06:32] Chris:

So do you think there's an element of you know, a bit like King makers, but I guess celebrity makers, in the kind of modern sense, do you think that that power has kind of passed from, you know, a few powerful individuals and been a bit more democratized? 

[00:06:46] Lea: 

I think so. And I think it's certainly like in the process of becoming more democratized, but yeah, I think you can't, ignore the fact that what becomes big is still very much controlled by like a few big players. But I think it's really like powerful. The fact that people can choose who they want to follow a bit more.

[00:07:07] And also, I think the fact that you can find out so much more about people, maybe makes you make smarter decisions. No, people can't necessarily like hide behind good publicity and things like that because things are exposed a bit more than they used to be, you know. 

[00:07:22] Chris:

That's actually, that actually does kind of lead into another question I had, which is that there. I think COVID has sort of brought this out; as people are kind of forced into their home spaces and celebrities are kind of forced into a space that was previously kind of very cut off from their public life. Do you think that that there's this idea that celebrities are almost expected to be a bit more grounded in reality and a little bit more relatable?

[00:07:51] Lea: 

Yeah, I think that I've been thinking about that recently of how interesting it is that we've seen so much more of like the inside of celebrities’ homes and things like that. And it's almost because we've all gone through this together it almost humanizes them a little bit more because we know that they're doing it; they're in exactly the same situation as we all are at the moment they've had to stay at home and things like that. And it was really interesting. I was just watching something the other day. And it was like Mariah Carey singing, but she's just in her home, and then her kids are like nudging her and things like that.

[00:08:20] And that's just so human, and not a side that you would necessarily see of them if you were just watching them performing on big stages and things like that. It's really interesting. 

[00:08:30] Chris:

So do you think there's an element with celebrities that there's this kind of shift because I mean, celebrities... you know, you think of like, as you say, Lord Byron, but I'm thinking more kind of like Golden-Age Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe, all these kind of people, which were very much set up on this sort of untouchable pedestal. Do you think that's kind of being broken away now and that idea of what a celebrity is, has changed?

[00:08:57] Lea:

I think so. Yeah. And I think it's great that people are being more held to account. You have to be careful that you're not just canceling people necessarily for things that maybe they can change, or maybe they can like, maybe they've grown, and their thought patterns have changed and things like that.

[00:09:14] But I think it's so important that you do see behind the curtain almost, and they're not just untouchable, as you say, that they are held to the same standards that you would hold other people to. Because otherwise, you are just creating so much more divide between a celebrity and your average person.

[00:09:32] It's not good for other people to not see the bad side of things. And I can see that looking back at my being obsessed with Justin Bieber and things like that. I would have defended him to the grave, like I was so passionate and so like dedicated to this is the most incredible person, I'm so in love and stuff like that. I think it's much better, and it's important for people to see, people's downfalls as well. 

[00:09:55] Chris:

I'm wondering if there's a sort of paradigm shift with celebrities. I wonder if they've gone from being quasi-gods to kind of being more cemented as role models now, and they kind of have to hold themselves to account as role models in a way that they didn't necessarily have to before.

[00:10:14] Lea: 

Yeah, definitely. And yeah, I think the idea of a celebrity as a role model is really important because not everyone is designed to be a role model. You've got to really have a certain way of talking to people and portraying your ideas and be really careful about what you say as well, that I think sometimes celebrities are expected to be more of a role model than maybe they actually want to be, some people just wanted... they're passionate about singing, they just want to be a singer, they didn't want to become this person that people are hanging on their every word, and I think that's when maybe we can expect too much of a person. But there's definitely, if you have a public platform and you have the ears of hundreds, of thousands of people. You need to be careful with what you say. 

[00:10:58] You can't just be chatting and not being careful how you choose your words. So sometimes I feel bad about... so I feel bad for celebrities who maybe didn't actually want this platform, they just wanted to act, they just wanted to sing, and now they've found themselves in a place where they... their image and their identity is taken outside of who they actually are. They're more of like people have more of an image of them than actually respecting them as a human. sometimes, I think. 

[00:11:25] Chris:

I wonder if you know the celebrities of the past or at least some of them -- I'm thinking, especially if kind of like rock-and-roll icons, the ones that immediately come to mind are, you know, Black Sabbath. I mean, basically everyone in Black Sabbath... I mean, Tony Iommi become an icon to disabled people in the modern-day because of, you know, the incredible way that he created his own prostheses and carried on playing the guitar. That's a real demonstration of overcoming physical adversity. That is fantastic role model to young people who are suffering from some kind of physical impairment. But then you've got people like Ozzy Osborne who I think is much less of a... I don't think anyone could say that he would be a good role model to try and live up to!

[00:12:12] Lea: 

[laughing] Yeah!

[00:12:13] Chris:

But he was nonetheless this huge celebrity and I mean, Kurt Cobain as well in, in a similar kind of fashion, who was a fascinating individual and really came out with some very profound stuff, and whose writing is, of course, legendary, but, role model? 

[00:12:32] Lea: 


[00:12:33] Chris:

I wouldn't really think so! 

[00:12:34] Lea: 

It's questionable! Yeah. 

[00:12:36] Chris:

So, I wonder if those kinds of celebrities are a thing of the past.

[00:12:40] I wonder if there's an element of celebrities becoming fused with this idea of the influencer. 

[00:12:46] Lea: 

Yeah, definitely. Yeah, and it's hard to see the line between someone who's an influencer and someone who is a celebrity. And I guess for me, a celebrity is someone who's, maybe this is a bit harsh, but someone who has like a skill that they've become a celebrity for and maybe an influencer more becomes a celebrity or becomes well-known because of their opinions.

[00:13:09] But I think there's also a thing of like, maybe there's a shift in what's considered, cool, I guess like it would have been... if you look Ozzy Osborne: "Oh, look how cool he is he's like doing all his partying, his drugs" and stuff like that. But maybe I think a lot of celebrities and people who, people who are famous actually now have, put a lot on social politics and they're striving for causes and things like that.

[00:13:34] They're not just a celebrity because they live a bad-ass life if you know what I mean! 

[00:13:41] Chris:

So, do you think that there is definitely an element of politicisation to celebrity status now? 

[00:13:48] Lea: 

Yeah, I think so, and I think it's really important as well to know what someone that you're idolising stands for because outside of whatever they're really talented at doing, it is important what people believe because, again, because I have this platform, and especially if they're in touch with... they've got a young audience, it is really important to know how they're influencing the way these young people think and think about the world around them as well. 

[00:14:20] Chris:

And there's definitely an element of, kind of how much do you think we can separate the artists from their politics here. Being-- I'm a classical musician myself, and the obvious example that always comes up is Wagner who: horrendous anti-Semite, but also wrote so much stuff and defined opera from his point onwards. So, how much can you separate those two people: the person and the artist? 

[00:14:50] Lea: 

Yeah. I'm actually going through a bit of really thinking about this recently because I'm a massive Harry Potter fan; I have a Harry Potter tattoo; it was the first tattoo I ever got it's a tattoo of the Deathly Hallows. So with everything that's happening with J. K. Rowling and her, I mean, just the abominable thing she's coming out with, and as a non-binary person as well, it's kind of like, "Okay, so she doesn't support my identity, she doesn't really support my rights. So now what do I do with this piece of art? -- I don't know if you can call the Deathly Hallows a piece of art -- this thing that's now on my body forever, which is linked back to this woman who doesn't respect who I am." And how much can I… I'm thinking of like filling it in with a trans flag or something, like keeping it, but, reclaiming it in a way. I'm going through the same thing of like, how much can I enjoy this thing that all came from her when I now know that she believes these things and she's standing up for these things.

[00:15:53] Yeah, I think it's really hard, but I think that might be something that... I don't know, I guess that will never go away, and I think it's a good thing that you're like questioning that because, I don't know something I'm really struggling with at the moment, I'm like, "What do I do with this piece of ink on my skin!?" 

[00:16:08] Chris:

It's an incredibly tough subject. The whole, can a person exists purely within that art as the creator of that art, or do they have to be considered as, you know, them the person as well as them, the artist, because there are a huge span of incredibly problematic individuals who have produced great things.

[00:16:29] Lea: 


[00:16:30] Chris:

It extends to all elements as well, because you know, there are, famous politicians for instance, who have done great and terrible things and how to reconcile that, Churchill being the obvious one

[00:16:42] Lea: 

Yeah, I mean, with something like Churchill, I think it's hard because he's done horrific things. He's a horrific man in a lot of ways.

[00:16:50] Chris:

Oh, absolutely!

[00:16:51] Lea: 

But it's also... I think a lot of that comes down to our education system and the way that we've been taught. But I think it's super important to be holding people to account for like everything they've ever done. You can't just ignore something because, "Oh, but look at this good thing they did do!" because otherwise it just makes the next person or the next generation think, "Oh, it's okay to act terribly, maybe 80% of the time, as long as you do 20% of something that is helpful", whereas that's not helpful at all you need to actually understand like the ramifications.

[00:17:24] Chris:

And I wonder if this -- tying this back to the idea of celebrity -- I wonder if this relationship we have with these individuals is somewhat defined by this kind of idea of, celebrities as these godlike, perfect people. Same thing with these great people throughout history, putting "great" in inverted commas, we kind of view them entirely based on, you know, the single thing that they are famous for and not holistically.

[00:17:52] I wonder if that has kind of bred an environment where we, in a way we expect people to be perfect, and that's unhealthy, but also people think that their deeds, that their good deeds; that they're perfect deeds are the only things that are going to be judged, which is equally as unhealthy in the opposite direction.

[00:18:13] Lea: 

Exactly. And I think there's such a line, and it's such a fine line, and I think it's something that we're really starting to understand, and that's really starting to be debated as well. And I think that comes down to the internet and things like that because you can, if someone's tweeted this thing, it's not just them discussing in their private circles they've chosen to put this into the public. And therefore, it is up for debate; if you've chosen to put it out there, you can't, you've got to expect people to critique it and things like that. 

[00:18:42] Chris:

So, kind of moving back specifically to your piece, let's have a look at some of the technical elements.

[00:18:49] What do you think was the biggest challenge making it? 

[00:18:53] Lea:

The biggest challenge was probably... I think I struggled with trying to find the line between, who is this for? First of all; am I just creating this for people who have had this experience, or am I trying to create something for everyone?

[00:19:08] And I think I sort of landed on the idea of, "no, I'm not trying to create something for everyone 'cause this isn't an experience that everyone's had". I wanted it to have the feeling of like an in-joke, and that's why I really wanted them to end up laughing at themselves and to then look straight down the camera to confront the audience and to show we're in on the joke, we know what's happening here. So that was probably the biggest challenge when I was developing it. But then the biggest challenge on set was probably like just the cheese! Cheese sets incredibly fast! Yeah, that was, that was just like a tricky one.

[00:19:43] And then apart from that, the biggest challenge was dealing with the legal side of how many Justin Bieber cutouts am I legally allowed to show on screen? 

[00:19:51] Chris:

[ laughing] Before you're considered giving out free advertising for him? 

[00:19:55] Lea: 

Yeah, exactly! That was like, because obviously it was through the BBC, and there's a rule about, you can use something without getting clearing for it if it's for the use of parody, which obviously this is, this is parody. I can't remember the way it's termed, but it's basically, just like, "but don't go over the top". They were like, okay, one, that's fine. You can get away with that, but I couldn't have the original six that I wanted, but I just loved them conversations.

[00:20:20] That's what I love the most about filmmaking is having these really serious conversations about sometimes such silly things, like sat down and having a really serious conversation about how many Justin Bieber cutouts am I allowed?

[00:20:35] Chris:

[laughing] Amazing! I guess that ties into a lot of what, I don't know how present in the YouTube meta you are right now, but the, ongoing arguments about free-use and these ideas of using material for creative or critical or academic purposes, the various copyright abuses that are taking place on YouTube, I guess this does actually in a way tie into that; to what extent do you think legal elements like this kind of put a ball and chain around creatives trying to create something like this, that is so dependent on the work of others. 

[00:21:12] Lea: 

Yeah, I think there was a massive line that like, you just can't cross. Like, I wasn't going to be able to use a Justin Bieber song or something like that, because I just simply don't have the budget or, anything like that, but I think the issue is when people are profiting of other people's work, it's different if you're just creating a YouTube video and it's not really going to go anywhere, but if you've got a channel that's reaching thousands or millions of views and you're using other people's work, I think that's when then there is an issue because you're profiting without paying the artist for their work. 

[00:21:47] Chris:

Do you think reviewers, for instance, would have a responsibility to... accredit or ascribe some kind of debt be that monetary or even just like, owing the filmmakers, a kind of moral debt almost for being able to review their work? 

[00:22:03] Lea:

For me, I think reviewing is fine because you're not sitting there suggesting that, you've made it, you know what I mean? 

[00:22:10] Chris:

Yeah, of course.

[00:22:10] Lea: 

"This person's made this thing, and I'm going to have a chat about it". Yeah, I think that's fine with me. 

[00:22:15] Chris:

What about, things like, mashups and compilation; things that synthesize and combine elements of other work. 

[00:22:23] Lea: 

Yeah. It's hard, and a very similar thing comes up with like collage artists as well, if you're using things from newspapers or magazines and things like that. But then, I mean, there's that like how much is anything original when it comes down to it? Everything's borrowed from somewhere, but I don't know, man, it's hard. It's hard to decide 

[00:22:42] Chris:

Let's look a bit again at the staging. So obviously you're put in a very empty space there it's fair to say that the kind of the stage was entirely constructed for Justin, it wasn't like a naturally occurring space. 

[00:22:55] Lea: 


[00:22:55] Chris:

So a lot of the world-building ends up being placed on the prop design, and of course, with this much more abstract kind of thing world-building, I guess, here doesn't necessarily relate to a location or a reality around the subject, as much as it is just kinda building a... just a space.

[00:23:17] What were your thought process with it? We've talked about some of your influences, but how did you decide to implement them and use the space that you've been given? 

[00:23:26] Lea: 

Yeah, I mean, I really wanted to just have this empty space that I could do anything with because I wanted to really take out of reality because the film isn't real I wanted to create a feeling through the film of this obsession and being under the influence of some other force. So, I really liked the idea of that, you can't see the edges of this world. They exist in this like abyss almost. 

[00:23:52] Chris:

Yeah, it's just kind of a void!

[00:23:53] Lea: 

Yeh, yeh, a kind of void! And I had really interesting conversations with Morgan who made the music for me, and all the sound, about where the sounds are coming from, and there's nothing to for them to bounce off of and things like that because there is, we don't see the edges of this world, and I felt that setting it in this void, in this space just allowed me to... it didn't constrain me in any reality that I had to do justice. It could just be as weird and as wild and everything, as I feel my time as a Bieber fan was 

[00:24:26] Chris:

Yeah, and I guess the music kind of plays a big part here because there's no dialogue. The music: it's a part of the world-building, and it's, one of the few things that you've got aside from sound effects and the kind of various vocalisations of the dancers. 

[00:24:41] Lea: 


[00:24:41] Chris:

The music is kind of one of the things that puts you within the space because there is no dialogue. What was that creative process like with the composer? 

[00:24:49] Lea: 

Well, I've worked with Morgan a lot before, and we went to uni together, so we've built a bit of like a relationship. So it's really good because I can just sort of send him a list of random references and describe the vibe I'm going for and we... he just seems to understand what I'm, what I'm saying. So I looked into a lot of, and got quite obsessed with like Norwegian folk-rock, because a lot of their videos are all set around campfires, and there's lots of, drums and there's like a really strong beat, and I wanted the chanting and the music to really go together to feel as if you're at this ceremony, that's about to really kick off. 

[00:25:34] So yeah, I wanted the music to not only give the film, a rhythm and a beat to it but to really build up this sense of like a cult, because I was really wanting to draw like comparisons between these, all of these girls and the idea of a fanbase that you have, in-jokes and things like that and you have like an understanding with each other. So yeah, that was one of the things I described to him. 

[00:25:58] Chris:

And kind of moving away from the music, the dancers, I struggled to figure out whether to call them dancers or actresses here, because they very much serve dual roles.

[00:26:10] Let's start with the technical elements of, the camera work, and what kind of things did you have to take into consideration when you, when you're filming very mobile, action. 

[00:26:19] Lea:

Yeah, I mean, 90% of the film was filmed in the stabiliser, which is what I really wanted, to make sure that we felt like we was in the action watching them, and really like picking up their individual dance moves. Yeah, I was just, I just really wanted to make sure that the audience. wasn't just sat back watching this happen, because otherwise, I think I'd be getting back into that idea of the separation between a fanbase and people who aren't involved in it. I wanted to throw the audience into this world so that you get a feeling of being under a spell almost. 

[00:26:55] Chris:

How did you decide to work with the choreography specifically? What were your influences there and, how did you decide where you wanted, acting and where you wanted dance, how did they kind of lock together?

[00:27:07] Lea: 

The way I set it out, the script has about four words in it, so it was all just action. 

[00:27:15] Chris:

Two of which are presumably: "Justin Bieber"? 

[00:27:17] Lea: 

[laughing] "Justin Bieber" exactly! "Justin Bieber", like "come join us"; the stuff they say at the start. But so apart from that, it really was just action. And I think a lot of my films are a lot heavier on action than they are on speaking.

[00:27:32] So I think that sort of came naturally to me, but the mixing in of the dancing, I just really dived into witch ceremonies, pagan ceremonies, wicker ceremonies, and looked at the things that they would do, and there was a lot of bringing offerings and things like that. So I incorporated that and then... really looking at the way, dancing plays a lot of role in a lot of cultures' rituals, and especially I was looking at films like Midsommar for the dancing; that was a mass influence. 

[00:28:01] I'm not a dancer, so I did my best at coming up with ideas, but I was really lucky that the dancers and actors that I was working with had a bit more experienced than me, so I really let them... like use them to influence me. But a lot of it was just sort of devised the morning of the film. It was super early, and it was just me and all the actors, just in a room dancing to Justin Bieber to start with, and then just playing around with movements and thinking of how the body feels, if it's like under a spell and things like that. Yeah, it all sort of just came from there. 

[00:28:40] Chris:

So, what bit of the production process do you think you... what bit did you really enjoy the most? 

[00:28:45] Lea:

I love pre-production and coming up with ideas and trying stuff out, and I try stuff out very physically, I act it out, which I really enjoy, and rope in housemates and stuff to play different roles and look at them and tell them to do different things.

[00:29:00] But I also love being on set and directing. It was so much fun and all of the actors that were in it were just so up for it, and really were up for going along with my crazy ideas. Yeah, it can sometimes be difficult to get people who are really going to like throw themselves into it when you trying to do something a bit bizarre.

[00:29:18] But yeah, I was super lucky, super lucky with who was in it.

[00:29:22] Chris:

Is there anything that you want young people to take away from the film or what do you hope people in general to take away from the firm? Is there a difference between the two? 

[00:29:31] Lea: 

Hmm, I guess for anyone who's... with the film, anyone who's had similar experiences, whether with Justin Bieber or anything else they've been fanatic about, I want them to hopefully recognize the feeling that they've felt at different times of being swept away with this icon in the film and to hopefully like be able to laugh at it because that's what this was all about for me is just being able to take a comedic look at something that at the time was really not painful, but very serious! I was serious about how much I loved him and how much I was dedicated to him.

[00:30:07] And now you can look back and see how farcical it is, but I also wanted to not. Just laugh at it. I wanted the characters to be in on it. So yeah, I hope people just recognize something of their own experiences in it. I think for young people, I can't like just culture! It changes so fast because of everything that's online, that I'm sure there's similar experiences that they feel the same way because the idea of like fanaticism dates back so far, if you think about Beatlemania and things like that, I don't think the feeling of it's changed, but the way that it's played out certainly has, so I hope the fact that I very much went for the feeling resonates with people. 

[00:30:49] Chris:

So, this question's kind of got two halves. I kind of wants it to be more of a thought experiment: if you were to recreate a film with a similar vibe, but directed at the modern rituals and the icon worship that maybe young teenage boys would have instead of this kind of idea of young teenage girls with the Beaver fever, what, what angle do you think you'd approach that from? What kind of topic would you look into and, sort of on a deeper note, do you think the kind of deconstruction of gender ideas and gender norms mean that something like Bieber fever and maybe the ultra kind of masculine and feminine idolisations that might have been so cemented 10 years ago, maybe would struggle to find the same kind of hold?

[00:31:33] Lea: 

I would hope so because that's one of the things that with say the marketing of, an icon, like Justin Bieber, it's so aimed at teenage girls; they know their market, and they know like who they're aiming for, but.

[00:31:48] I can't speak for the experience of a teenage boy. I don't know what that's like, and if there's a community that goes with it, or if there's more competition, that arises, but I mean, I'm big against gender norms. So, I would hope that people feel that no matter their agenda, they can love and follow anyone that... anyone that they want to.

[00:32:10] Chris:

Yeah, absolutely. So, to end on a much more lighthearted question, what on earth was in the kind of the cauldron thing I think you said cheese? 

[00:32:20] Lea: 

Yeah! Okay so! So, so, so the line in Boyfriend by Justin Bieber that says “chilling by the fire while we eating fondue”, and it was just inspired by that.

[00:32:32] I almost wanted to, I'm quite interested in putting things in that makes sense in my head, but I know don't really make sense to anyone else. Sort of seeing what happens when I put it into the world, I mean, that's the biggest question I've had and I... I really, I like it when people ask me that cause I'm like, "haha". But yeah, that's where it came from. I liked the comparison between like the cheesiness and the cheesiness of his songs, he's not some unbelievable Maestro, if you know what I mean. He is very cheesy. 

[00:33:03] Chris:

So, what speaking to you directly as an artist now, what are you going to work on next? What projects do you have on the go? 

[00:33:10] Lea:

I've got a bunch of different stuff. I'm working on a music video for some friends, and I'm doing a BFI director scheme at the moment, which you could make a three-minute monologue as part of which I'm super excited about. And yeah, I've just... I didn't get to make my graduation film because of COVID, so I'm still working on that and planning how I can get that made hopefully in the next year or two.

[00:33:35] Chris:

I was going to make that the last question, but you've just raised a very interesting point. What are the challenges -- of course speaking as a musician, I was just finishing up my masters, and I was going to do a final recital, but of course that ended up having to be canceled because of COVID and we had to submit a recorded performance instead. What are the challenges that COVID has brought to young filmmakers such as yourself? 

[00:33:59] Lea:

Yeah, so the biggest one was that I didn't get to make my graduation film and just handed in portfolio work really. That was a massive hurdle as well because it's like the film that you want to leave university with and go on and show people, "this is what I can do" and get new projects on the go.

[00:34:15] But I think one of the main things is I'm sort of hoping that it makes people band together a lot more in terms of getting crews together and helping people out finish projects because everyone's on the same boat, but I think it's really difficult with COVID, and money-wise is adding a lot of money onto productions, especially small productions in terms of how much you can film in a day, how many people you can have on set, locations you can find your way into.

[00:34:39] So yeah, I think it's going to take a while, so things to catch back up again. 

[00:34:44] Chris:

So, where can people find more of your work? Where can they hear you? 

[00:34:47] Lea: 

You can find more of my work. I've got my Instagram is lea_judge, and I've also got a website which is And there's other films as well as Justin What Have You Done to Us on there? Yeah. There's everything that I've made so far on there. 

[00:35:01] Chris:

Brilliant! Cool. Thank you so much for coming on today, Lea, this has been really great to chat to you. 

[00:35:07] Lea: 

Cheers! Yeah, thank you for chatting with me! 

[00:35:10] Chris:

So, for those of you who don't know my name is Chris Hill. I'm a contributor for Voice. You can find my articles up there. I talk about music and tech and video games, often how the three kinda intersect. And yeh you can see me perform on YouTube and various other places if you google "Chris Hill flute" something will probably come up!

[00:35:32] Thank you all for tuning in. I hope you all have a great day.

[00:35:37] Tom: 

Today's episode was made possible by Voice Magazine, an online platform for young people, interested in art and culture. You can read Voice over at, and find it on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as voicemaguk, the Voice Contributors, are also on Instagram over at voice.extra.

[00:35:56] If you're looking for another podcast to listen to, the contributors release the Voice Extra podcast every Saturday, where they talk about the pieces they've produced and the culture they've been enjoying. If you like this podcast, please consider helping us to make more with the donation of any amount at

[00:36:12] Thanks to Kevin McCleod for the use of the track Thief in the Night, you can find more of his work at

[00:36:17] Tom Innis was the executive producer.

Header Image Credit: Joanne Coates


Christopher Hill

Christopher Hill Contributor

I am a musician, musicologist, and music journalist. I did my BA in music at the University of Oxford and am currently doing a PhD in music performance practice at the University of Birmingham.

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