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Henry Less, Television Producer (INTERVIEW)

 - Feb 3, 2007
References: henrylessproductions
Henry Less is an award winning television producer with a colorful life. His bio describes, “He's a guy who has sailed across the Atlantic, done time in a Colombian jail, kidnapped a stripper, mined for gold, raced motorcycles and circled the globe, twice. You've probably seen some of his shows. Made to Order, the Gemini awarded series he created with restaurateurs Guy & Michael Rubino. The quirky, funny Wilkinsons for CMT. Or you might have heard of his ground breaking series, co-produced with Shaftesbury and Chokolat, set to air on CBC in June 2006, 11 Cameras."

Henry Less has been a follower of Trend Hunter for nearly a year. When asked about Trend Hunter, he commented, "Trendhunter is a bit like Marco Polo. It sources the great and unusual bounty from around the world and puts it at your fingertips instantly - that's a lot of power."

10 Questions With Henry Less

1. How did you get involved in producing firms and what motivates you to continue?
I studied Architecture at the U of Manitoba, photography was a tool we learned and I fell in love with it. I delivered a car to Miami for some wealthy folks and met a great photographer just getting into film, Lou Buzone, a 40 year old hippy. An old hippy was rare in those days. There was only him and the mayor of Miami Beach who also grew his hair long and wore sandals.

I moved to Coconut Grove and apprenticed with Buzone, shooting stills and film. Then I met and apprenticed with Victor Lukens, a multi-talented genius who was an architect (studied under Frank Lloyd Wright), a cinematographer (one of the first Americans to win in Cannes), a race car driver (Ferrari and Bandini), a furniture designer (I shot a 1971 Newsweek cover featuring his work) and an inventor (his 'primary colors' clock is in the Museum of Modern Art).
“one of the highest paid directors of photography in New York,” Victor Lukens (of the Lukens steel family). He was also an ex-racecar driver and had cohabited with Steve McQueen's mother, helping to raise the young McQueen (sending him to acting school).
but the most spectacular version of the chair that i've yet discovered was in the house of artist victor lukens. he made a spherical chair very similar to aarnio's in shape, but instead of fiberglass, he used one-way mirror. you could sit inside it and look out, but nobody could see you inside of it. admittedly extreme, but it went with the rest of his self-designed apartment filled with clear plastic furniture, white vinyl pillows, and white plastic walls with built-in compartments.

His passion was legendary and he had a fearless approach to shooting. While most cinematographers would have perfect dailies, his raw footage was chaotic but always had the most golden moments. He taught me the importance of capturing the 'moment' that is so candid, it's magic. His inspiration is what has led me to treat each job, each shoot, each film like it is going to be an Oscar winner. The old expression of 'reach for the stars and chances are you won't come up with a handful of mud' is very apropo.

2. :and what motivates you to continue?

What keeps me going is the excitement of everything changing all the time. We're constantly trying to find the wave of current popularity, actually, the leading edge of the wave. And often I'm ambivalent about our own ideas. But every so often an idea comes along where you know you have a winner. You just don't know how big it's going to be.
My career has taken me from corporate and commercial work, to documentaries, and now to movies and television. At the moment we have several new shows that we're VERY excited about. Ooops, didn't mean to yell.

3. How significant are the topics of cool hunting and trend spotting in the film industry?
Completely and utterly. Films often feature the latest and greatest fashions and designs. And television thrives on what's new.

4. How do you define a trend?
Any unique design, device, style, expression, etc that occurs in unrelated situations, peoples and places.

5. How do you define cool?
Cool is original. Something that makes you wish you had created it, makes you feel good all over, and makes you want to own it and live in it. Heroic. Desirable. Hard to explain but you know when it is.

6. What is the best way to create an infectious television show?
Disregard all guidelines and formulas. Instead, imagine in your mind's eye, a show that gets your attention, then your interest and finally alters your perception. And hopefully your neighbour's.

7. What the favorite shows you've produced and why?
Most shows that I've made have excited me. My favourites are Made to Order, a food and lifestyle show playing in over 200 million homes, 11 Cameras, a soap opera for CBC following 7 stories via webcam conversations, and Full Ride, about high school football prospects for the NFL - see it on ESPNU in the US of A.

I have a few obscure pieces that I'm proud of. A music video for Al Simmons Feathers and Rocks, and I once shot a Russian singer in the subway in St Petersburg. His song was passionate and, although there are no edits in 10 minutes, it's riveting.

8. What are your long term aspirations for Henry Less Productions?
To be a company of enthusiastic people, creating clever, beautiful and at the very least, slightly profound, programming for a wide market spectrum. Awakening, inspiring, informing and entertaining.

We are also trying our hand at two feature films in 2007 to see if we can make a viable business out of it.

9. What are your most important hobbies?
Photography and medicinal marijuana.

10. How do you reset yourself to be creative? (e.g. do you have any rituals, do you set aside time for creativity, etc.)
I am generally on the run and don't stop to recharge, but now that you mention it, my best creative times are after I have been distracted by a holiday or a trip or a daydream. Making time to refill your own creative coffers is a great idea. I'm starting now.

Thanks Henry!