Duran Levinson is a South African photographer, director and cinematographer currently based in Berlin. Duran is an extremely passionate all round visual artist and creator.
He has had works published internationally by magazines, online editorials, campaigns, music videos, advertising and in books, the list goes on.
He began his career working in visual effects departments for the Hollywood TV and Film industry.
While living and working in China, Russia and Germany he created content for the likes of Vice, Adidas, Wasted Paris, Volchok, New balance and many more. He has published 4 books, exhibited around the globe as well as touring with the likes of Sam Fender and Frank Carter.
We’ve met a lot of photographers either based in Berlin from around the world submit their works to Siilk, what is it you think breads creativity or the idea of finding creativity in Berlin?
I’ve only recently moved to Berlin 5 months ago, but have been coming here since 2016. I’m originally from Cape Town, South-Africa but have been lucky enough to travel, live and complete artist residencies in a few countries around the world.
I feel like Berlin is a city filled with a lot of talented younger people who are more forward thinking than a lot of other places I’ve lived in. I love the mixture of everything from Turkish cultures to the music and club scenes. For shooting I’m always inspired by the people I meet here, from musicians to models to interesting people I see on the street.
You are an all round visual artist and professional, do you have a preference in the work you do, directing, photography, is there something you’re more passionate about over the other?
I started off working in the film industry as a camera assistant and visual effects photographer. I was trained and super lucky to have worked with a lot of talented people from around the world on movies and commercials. This led me to want to be a cinematographer, director and photographer.
After 6 years in the film industry I decided to do it on my own, focusing on film photography for a few years, building up my portfolio before moving back into the film industry, this time trying to shoot, edit and direct my own projects, such as music videos and social media content for brands and musicians.
Tell us about your experiences in working professionals in TV & Film?
I loved working in the film industry as an assistant but I needed to find a way to create my own work and develop a style so I could be directing and shooting videos. Working on movies was technically very rewarding, but the hours are so long and the work can be really hard, so committing to many months on a film set can mean there’s no time left for your own creative work – if you are working as an assistant and not a head of a department.
You’ve been able to travel the world with photography / videography, did you have favorite place to shoot in, is there somewhere you haven’t yet been you would love to create content in?
My favorite places to visit and shoot used to be Hong Kong, Bangkok and Seoul. Such amazing cultures and beautiful cities to shoot in. Every time I’m there I’m super inspired.
Since moving to Europe I love shooting in Berlin, Moscow, Bosnia and many other cities where there are so many interesting people, brands and artists to shoot.
Tell us a little about the artists you’ve been on the road with, how were those trips, do any stick out more than others and is there anyone you would have loved to / would love to tour with?
Most of my trips were solo trips, where I have friends in the cities I’m visiting. When I’m shooting photography such as street it is usually better that I’m out by myself in the day or night doing that, so I can focus on that and not have to worry about other things.
For my videos it is always a collaboration and I love getting to work in a collaborative space. Since moving to Berlin I’ve had some nice opportunities to direct video and photo work for Coca-Cola, New Balance and Kappa
Tell us about the books you’ve had published, where can we check them out?
I used to self publish and release photo zines, which I was super passionate about. After a few of those Coy Culture in London published my first travel photography A4 coffee table book, shot entirely on film. The book is available on my website and made to order, printed in Amsterdam. It’s called ‘I’m Fine Today’ – and the project was exhibited in Berlin.
Here’s a link to that : https://www.duranlevinson.com/im-fine-today
For people wanting to get into the industry in any form of visual art what would your advise be to them getting their foot in the door?
The first step is finding what you like and start assisting on those projects. I can only speak from a film and photo background, but if you’re lucky enough to study great, but you don’t need that anymore for any creative field. You can start off as a PA or intern and try your best to impress and learn from the heads of departments. If you find something you’re uniquely passionate or talented in, you should whole-heartedly explore that.
What are your plans next, what can we expect to see from you in 2020?
Right now like everybody I’m waiting for this global Pandemic to end so we can go outside again, be safe and create work. Like most all my big jobs for the year have been postponed, which really sucks, but hopefully when it’s back to normal I can get back into it.
My plans are releasing my next book, a few exhibitions around Europe, launching my vintage clothing line, touring with a few bands, directing commercials and making as many photos as possible, oh and enjoying the fuck out of summer !
Where can we find you online?