Scott Leonard graduated from UNM’s Interdisciplinary Film & Media program in 2017. What he learned to value most was the connections he made to other talented filmmakers. “Film school teaches you to work within the industry, but Hollywood looks to New Mexico for workers, not creatives,” says the up-and-coming filmmaker. “My friends from school (and the friends I met through them) challenge that, creating underground movies that thrive on experimentation, low budgets and wild creativity.” To those ends, Leonard helped form the lilyellowtags media collective, a loosely-affiliated and semi-anonymous group whose website (lilyellowtags.com) describes as a “secret psychedelic anti-copyright art collective specializing in public and digital art in Albuquerque.”
Last October the group hosted the world premiere of its its anthology-style art film Flower Power at Nob Hill’s Guild Cinema. The underground art film was unleashed on the public after 22 months of booze-filled collaborative effort. It consisted of 60 short psychedelic films, all 60 seconds in length.
“Flower Hour was started by myself and a small group of the lilyellowtags crew over the 2020 quarantine when COVID shut everything down,” explains Leonard. “We didn’t have much to do, and we had a lot of old unfinished projects that weren’t doing anything sitting on our hard drives, so we remixed and re-edited them into 60-second experiences. We quickly realized that adding more voices would raise the quality of the experience, so we started reaching out to film schools and other underground filmmakers both here in town and across the country.” The finished film enjoyed a sold-out, two-night screening at Guild, sold a few hundred DVDs and has been shown at numerous house party/underground screenings in cities from Albuquerque to Atlanta.
Now Leonard, who produced Flower Power, is releasing his first solo writing/directing effort, an experimental feature called The Space Between Dreams. It will have its world premiere at Guild Cinema this weekend. Shot in 15-second increments, the film follows a filmmaker named “Scotty Leonard” as he works in the film industry and releases underground movies. Employing heavy elements of documentary and experimental filmmaking, the film is laden with psychedelic dream sequences, obsessive teeth brushing, crushing daily routines and talking cats combined to produce a “colorful, hypnotic and wildly honest cinematic experience.”
The way Leonard tells it, “I was working 60 hours a week in the film industry doing Hollywood films and was feeling drained because I didn’t have time to work on anything creative for myself. Then a fellow member of lilyellowtags, Paul Thompson, and I realized that if you add 15 seconds to a movie every day for a year, it ends up being a little over 90 minutes long—feature length. We attempted it with a small group of filmmakers who each had their own approach, from documentary to non-narrative experimental. Mine was the only one attempting some sort of ‘narrative arc.’ The film follows my daily routines followed by dream sequences reacting to how I feel about those routines, and how they change over the course of the year. I change jobs, move house, grow bored and endure the nightmare of trying to release lilyellowtags’ Flower Hour while working a full-time job.”
Leonard calls the film “part documentary, part experimental arthouse and part vlog. I was constantly considering the narrative arc, but the project follows my daily routines, adventures and dreams as they happened to me in real time. Each entry contains what I was feeling, thinking about or what I thought would be funny on the day that it was shot. And all together they create a narrative self-portrait unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.”
As for the future, Leonard is working on a narrative feature and “trying to make lilyellowtags more accessible to more artists and audiences. We host pages for any creative who wants to release non-copyrighted art on our website, and we are planning to put together some art shows to help provide a platform for artists that don’t have access to traditional institutions, galleries or theaters.”
If anyone wants to get in touch with lilyellowtags, send them an email at email@example.com or reach out on Instagram @lilyellowtags. The group will host the free premiere of Scott Leonard’s The Space Between Dreams on Friday, April 15 at 10:30pm at Guild Cinema (3405 Central Ave. NE).