Lindy Heymann (photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Whether personally or professionally, she has great goals and desires. Lindy Heymann is a multifaceted person with a flexible and enthusiastic attitude towards any challenge or task. She knows that with the right amount of inspiration and motivation anything is possible and is willing to do what it takes to make her dreams a reality. Lindy won ‘Best Directorial Debut’ at the British Independent Film Awards with her first feature, which was “Showboy” and in 2008 she completed her second feature “Kicks”. Premiering at Edinburgh it was nominated for the Michael Powell award, where it won two Trailblazer awards. Her television credits include “Hush!”, “Service”, “The Real Fawlty Towers” and “ 3 Hours in High Heel Heaven”. She has also directed over one hundred music videos and has worked with artists and bands as diverse as Paul McCartney, John Lydon, Sinead O’Connor, David Gray, The Charlatans, Suede, Leftfield, Terry Hall and Faithless. Lindy Heymann directed Suede’s video for the single “Attitude” starring the veteran British actor John Hurt. The video was screened in various cinemas in London. She has recently completed “The Laughing King”, a short film endorsed by CALM. The 15 minute movie touches on the sensitive subject of male suicide, which accounts for 76% of all suicides in the UK and is the biggest single killer of men aged under 45. Currently, Lindy Heymann has several feature films in development whilst continuing to direct music videos, commercials and concert films.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
My creative process depends very much on the project I am working on but I am very much a collaborator on everything I do. Most often I co-write so this usually means sitting down together and brainstorming ideas. I come from a visual and musical background so I tend to use things I’ve seen and heard to inspire the writing process. I particularly love photography so quite often I use images to help inspire and articulate what the moods and emotions that I am trying to express.
What is the most important/ impactful part of screenplay that sells? The characters, the dialogue, the setting, the story…
It can be any combination of these things – but without a compelling character that you care about in a story that grips you – I can’t imagine that you will have a screenplay worth reading, let alone a film worth watching.
“I come from a visual and musical background so I tend to use things I’ve seen and heard to inspire the writing process”
Adrian Armas and Christian Taylor. “Showboy” Premiere to Benefit The Trevor Project at Regent Showcase Theater in Hollywood, 2004 (photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage)
From a professional perspective, ¿Which has been the most enriching experience you have experienced and why?
I made my first full length feature film ‘Showboy’, with my dear friend Christian Taylor. It was a fictional film set in the real world and at the time, there was nothing like it – so we felt as if we were breaking new ground with what we were trying to do. It was set in LA & Las Vegas and follows the story of a British writer in Hollywood (Christian) who ends up in Vegas trying to become a Showboy. We researched it like a documentary – found all the characters and locations and then we constructed a kind of script-ment which became the cast and crews’ roadmap for the film.
We cast it with real people (everyone is playing themselves – including Christian & me and much of it is improvised) then we constructed a fictional story for our characters journey. It was a baptism of fire and really a director’s bootcamp – I was co-writing, co-directing, co-editing, co-producing and acting and it was an incredible experience which taught me a lot in terms of storytelling and working with actors.
When working on the script did you have any particular actors in mind?
I think it’s hard not to think about actors when you are working on a script but there’s only been a couple of times when I have written something explicitly for an actor, One was a music video that I made for the band Suede which tells a story of the lonely caretaker of an old theatre who performs on stage when it is empty. I wanted John Hurt to play him – at first he refused but I rang him nearly in tears and pleaded – the part was written only for him and would not otherwise have been made and he eventually agreed. I asked him later what changed his mind and he said he could hear in my voice how much it meant to me. When I showed him the finished film, he was in tears – so I think he was happy he did it.
John Hurt in the studio whilst working on the video for the Suede single “Attitude” London, 2003
Let’s talk about the process behind music videos. What is your interaction with the performer to define the story and the look?
It varies whenever you work on a music video. Usually I prefer to work with the artist as they quite often have a sense of what they’re trying to express with the song and how they want to perform it – this is the most creative and rewarding way of working. We will sit down and talk about our favourite movies and discuss inspired cinematic moments and performances. One of my favourite aspects of working with artists to get them to play with their identity and it’s an opportunity for them to perform their music away from a band set up and a microphone. It was certainly how I worked with Chase & Status, Take That, Imelda May & Faithless and these are amongst my favourite music videos.
“One of my favourite aspects of working with artists to get them to play with their identity and it’s an opportunity for them to perform their music away from a band set up and a microphone"
What advice would you give to women filmmakers embarking on making their first feature and raising funds?
I think female film-makers need to be bolder about the stories they are telling – perhaps it’s thinking bigger or out of the box. Women quite often are drawn to more intimate stories (rights of passage stories being a prime example). I think cinema demands us to create a visceral and transformative experience. We need to offer our audience an alternative from television and this is the challenge. It’s not necessarily about scale – it’s more about choosing a project that allows you to do something bold and inventive and will set you on the path you wish to go. Features require stamina and commitment and can often take years to make happen, so it’s crucial that it matters and that you are willing to devote a chunk of your life to. Generally it makes sense to package your project in a way that helps financiers understand what they are investing in. This could be inspired and established cast or crew that you can attach or just a named partner that can bring weight or kudos to your project. I find that thinking this way can often lead to making helpful contacts anyway and this will create a momentum to help drive your movie forward.
“ I think we have to continue pressurising the people that can make a difference to employing female directors - this means commissioners, studios, producers agents and writers -”
Lindy Heymann .” Kicks” Red Carpet. The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival , 2009
- What do you think the future holds for women filmmakers and how can we continue to support their work?
I think women film-makers are going from strength to strength. Obviously it doesn’t feel like this if you look at the statistics – but on the ground it feels like there are a huge number of female directors intent on pursuing a career. There is a much more balanced representation of male / female directors in short films. The challenge is how to build a body of work that as a whole has impact and allows you to keep making work. It’s important to analyse yourself and scrutinise what your long term goals really are and whether they are achievable in terms of the life you wish to have. I think we have to continue pressurising the people that can make a difference to employing female directors – this means commissioners, studios, producers agents and writers – unfortunately this still means banging on the door to remind them that we are brilliant and that by diversifying and investing in our voices they are going to make more interesting, powerful, thought provoking and affecting films.
"I think female film-makers need to be bolder about the stories they are telling - perhaps it's thinking bigger or out of the box."
What latest news have you of upcoming projects?