Jake’s video still shows guys from the LeatherWest region gathering at The Leather Social: Cardiff before the first Mr Leather Wales competition in 2016

Documentary film maker Jake Hardy, stumbled across our community while on a trip to Berlin.

What happened next gave rise to a thought provoking short documentary film and showed our leather community to be a warm and welcoming one. Here Jake tells LeatherWest how the project came about. [Film appears at the end of this article]

“This project all started for me around five months ago whilst on holiday in Berlin with my girlfriend. Like many people visiting a city for the first time, we got advice and travel tips from friends. In particular, we were told we had to visit a certain street whilst we were there, but our friends didn’t tell us anything about it.

Of course, being a curious couple, we had to visit it. And so, with map in hand, we explored the city and located the nominated street. As we turned the corner, we were greeted with a sight that neither of us were quite expecting.  The street was filled with guys dressed, head to toe, in leather. Guys were engaged in drinking, chatting, socialising – all dressed in a range of leather clothing. The only time I had come across a guy dressed in leather to this extent was passing a biker at the petrol station!

It turned out that the timing of our visit coincided with Folsom Europe Weekend – one of Europe’s biggest leather fetish festivals. To us, it was quite a shock at first as we really hadn’t ever seen anything like it before. However, we could see that here were people, enjoying a common interest, having a good time and expressing themselves in the manner of their choosing.

What surprised me as we chatted to a few people, was how many people were involved in the community - a community of which I had never really noticed before now. The guys were friendly and welcoming and were genuinely pleased to explain their interest to us.

And this is why we found ourselves in the early hours of the morning sat outside a bar talking to a man dressed in nothing but leather underwear and a harness. This turned out to be Joe King, the current Mr Leather Europe 2016. He spoke so passionately about why he was involved in the leather scene and how much the community meant to him. It was clear that Joe was taking his ambassador role as a title holder to heart and by taking time out from talking to his other leather friends, he was willing to spend time explaining his community to an uninitiated couple.

This sparked my interest as a filmmaker. As a filmmaker I try  to capture beautiful stories and I recognised that the leather community offered the opportunity for a great story. I remember drunkenly shouting after Joe as we left the bar, "I will make a documentary about you!".

Hundreds of emails and phone calls later, the film is finally finished and am really pleased with it and the story it tells. I hope you agree and that you believe that I have done your community justice. I plan on making a longer version and hopefully submitting it to a few film festivals later on in the year

All in all all, it's been a really fantastic project to work on and I really appreciate everyone who has helped out in anyway during the past few months. If you have any comments or would like to contribute in anyway to future projects, please get in touch with me.”

Jake Hardy on Twitter
Jake Hardy on Vimeo