Writer, producer and director Jules Williams was introduced to Malibu artist Leigh McCloskey in 2014 — one-and-a-half years before interviewing the local for his passion project, Malibu Stories.
“I attended a documentary screening at the McCloskey home prior to introducing Malibu Stories to the world,” Williams told The Malibu Times. “It was suggested … that we consider featuring Leigh for one of our segments. The connection was made, and the rest was history.”
McCloskey is best known for the art piece he has created in his home — an epic, three-dimensional hieroglyphic “painting of the human soul” he created in the comfort of his home studio.
A true visionary, McCloskey began the work of art after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
Williams and his creative partner Jay Armitage, under the umbrella of their production company, 27 Miles Films, were ready to add to their Malibu Stories series.
John Clarity — the man behind the stone structures on the north end of Zuma beach — was 27 Miles Films’ first profile in the Malibu Stories saga. Both artists, Clarity and McCloskey, showcase their artwork and share their inspirational stories in six minute segments, written and directed by Williams and Armitage.
Although he now calls Malibu home, Williams’ British accent is a dead giveaway to his origin. The film and television maker hails from the U.K. and, after living in the U.S. for a bit, settled into the coastal city.
“The people of Malibu get a rep for being stereotypically ‘Hollywood,’ but it’s a true community,” Williams said. “Everyone here has a connection to one another.”
Williams is so in love with Malibu, he dubbed his production house after its 27-mile coastal stretch.
Both Williams and Armitage share a passion for extracting telling stories from people, and delivering them to the world. Paired with Williams’ experience, Armitage brings years of award-winning director of photography work to the table. Just 18 short months ago, the duo combined their talents and formed 27 Mile Films, in which the two make up the seasoned production team.
Small but mighty, the Malibu residents rely on the personal connections with others to build their rolodex of Malibu Stories candidates. The duo doesn’t have a lengthy list of requirements to follow — potentials just have to have a tie to the city in some form or fashion.
“Leigh saw John’s video and loved it, and agreed to do it, too,” Williams recalled. “It’s hard for artists to be OK with other artists telling their stories.”
But typically, once a potential candidate sees one of 27 Mile Films’ works, they trust the duo to tell their own story as well.
There isn’t a strict schedule to the amount of releases, either. Instead, the team wants to roll out new Malibu Stories editions organically. In the upcoming weeks, the production house is expecting to premiere two new segments — one featuring Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer Dave Bassett and one focused on local Malibu surfer Mitch Taylor.
As for goals for the passion project in the future, Williams and Armitage said they just want to keep the integrity of the individual stories alive, and not to become influenced by the hustle and bustle of the industry.
“Malibu Stories is community driven, and we wish it to stay that way,” said Williams. “We do want partners to invest money and to have sponsorships help roll things out, but ultimately, we just want to stick to the story.”
For more information about 27 Mile Films, visit 27MileFilms.com, and to catch new episodes of Malibu Stories, visit malibustories.com/film.