Skepta and 6LACK collaborator Luis Cross talks about his new film, ‘Memento Mori’

We chat to a Manchester multi-media mastermind behind projects with Skepta, Adidas, 6LACK and Bipolar Sunshine.

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 4 August 2019

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Luis Cross, a Manchester-based visual connoisseur who has upped the ante with the release of his new film, ‘Memento Mori’. We chat to Cross off of the back of his London premiere about his come up, inspiration and more…

JB: If you could sum up what you do in 10 words or less, what would you say?

LC: Make films and try to enjoy it.

JB: What early pieces of art/media inspired you to do what you do now?

LC: I’ve obviously been inspired by art in all mediums but can’t pinpoint a specific piece that drives me, I’m seeing new references and projects every day that remind me it’s possible. I think what inspires me to do what I do is seeing people around me making positive moves and giving this ‘art’ thing a go.

JB: Do you have any embarrassing, humbling stories from your come up?

LC: Haha, plenty, too many to mention but I’ve been humbled many times… it’s part of the game, learning and figuring this stuff out.

JB: Your work has spanned across fashion, music and sport, on both independent and corporate levels. Did you always want to stretch across various industries, or could you see yourself focusing on just one?

LC: I think it just happened naturally. I started working with music artists at the beginning and have moved onto brands, and most recently into narrative projects. I do like to mix it up. Sometimes working with artists especially if there was no backing could be difficult, and sometimes working with brands is frustrating because of all the protocols but just having a good mix is what keeps the juices flowing. I’m liking the process of narrative work now and projects that tell stories. I’ve been surprised how much I like sports projects but usually, they have a lot of energy and pacing is interesting to work with as a director.

JB: ’Memento Mori’ is your latest film, congratulations on the release. What inspired this project and how was it to execute?

LC: My close friend Kerim Hassan wrote the spoken word that accompanies the project throughout out of a stream of consciousness. It was just a fleeting idea he pitched to me and I was like, ‘yeah, we could probably just go run and gun’ (aka super low budget go out and shoot ourselves). He was in NYC at the time for an acting project, so I made myself out there and linked up with Jordan Hall a cinematographer out there and it just came together perfectly. It was literally myself, Kerim and Jordan the whole time, very small shoot but definitely my favourite.

JB: What did doing ‘Memento Mori’ teach you?

LC: Story is everything. We did this on a budget funded by ourselves, smaller than your local musician’s music video budget, and even though we didn’t have the financial backing, I feel we had a strong story and we built a strong character for Kerim to connect with. Also being in another city without contacts you’ve gotta just make it happen yourself. We had a few friends out there to help us with some contacts but essentially all comes down to just research and execution.

JB: Not including ‘MM’, what are you most proud of professionally?

LC: I was really proud of the project with 6LACK, we got to interview some really cool people and ask them some vulnerable questions about love, monogamy and trust. It was a cool one – I also got to interview Elton John at his house with LVRN which was sick. Proper random but great experience.

JB: Is there anything want to explore more of in your work?

LC: I want to explore more stories, bringing real stories and topics that should be talked about more to the forefront. I think films are powerful and push conversations for people that aren’t always familiar with certain topics. Sometimes telling a story and showing people things on-screen is the only way they can really understand.

JB: Yoko Ono once said that “experiencing sadness and anger can make you feel more creative, and by being creative, you can get beyond your pain or negativity”. How much of what you do is a job and how much of it is what you’re emotionally tied into?

LC: I’m of course emotionally attached to my work, especially the ones that have more depth but at the end of the day, we’ve got to enjoy things. Your life experiences definitely are the fuel that pushes your work, so I think the more we learn and enjoy about life and experiences outside of projects the better perspective we will be able to exhibit in our work. I’ve always thought about this as a business as well as a creative output because I like the freedom of working for myself and having my own production company. If I was thinking creatively all the time, I’d have no money haha.

JB: Lastly, who are some of your favourite Manchester artists and creatives?

LC: Creatively I have to give a big shout out to the whole grey label, they gave me opportunities when I was just starting out so will always forever respect them and their help. Film-wise I’d say Danny Boyle, he’s directed some of my favourite films… Sunshine, Slumdog, The Beach.