An Interview with Lindy Heymann, Director of Showboy, Kicks and The Laughing King
Lindy Heymann is an award winning director who received a BIFA for Best Directorial Debut for her feature film Showboy, which also won Best Film at the Milan International Film Festival. Her second feature film, Kicks, a dark coming of age story, premiered at Edinburgh Film Festival and was nominated for the Michael Powell award, where it won two Trailblazer awards. Lindy and its writer Leigh Campbell were also both nominated for Best British Newcomer awards at the London Film Festival.
She also directs music videos & commercials and has worked with many acts. Lindy has worked directing 2nd Unit for KUDOS on their hugely successful TV drama Humans & Thirteen, a five part drama for the BBC.
She has recently completed The Laughing King, a short film which she directed and co-wrote with Leigh Campbell starring Colin Morgan (Merlin, Humans, Legend) & Kerrie Hayes (The Mill, Kicks) and shot by Edu Grau (A Single Man, Suffragette).
You can see Lindy’s full bio, here: http://www.curtisbrown.co.uk/client/lindy-heymann
* * *
At what age did you decide you wanted to be a director?
It all came together in my first year of Art School – I had a very inspiring film tutor.
Why do you think there are such few female filmmakers?
Actually, in my view there are a lot female film-makers – especially at the beginning of the journey in colleges, making shorts etc. But for many reasons this doesn’t translate into mainstream film and TV and long term careers.
There are a lots of reasons – motherhood, gender politics – men preferring to work with men, women preferring to work with men. Historically the Director role has been one that is occupied by an alpha male – it is much more common to see females in Producer roles.
I personally think that there is a bigger issue in terms of – writing, distribution and audience. In my experience distributors can often be cynical about female driven narratives especially if they are told as intimate dramas or rights of passage stories. They will always argue that in order to want to know about the male roles.
I think female directors have to work harder than men in really considering their choices from the start. There’s always going to be the exceptions like Suffragette or Fifty Shades of Grey but generally speaking we are still living in a world where people feel more comfortable having a man in charge (especially where money is concerned) – whether it’s politics, business or film.
The great thing is that talent and ability isn’t exclusive to men; but in order to create a body of work over a lifetime, we women have to have tenacity, absolute self belief, a dogged determination and an ability to not take no for an answer.
You’ve made an appearance as an actress in the mockumentary Showboy that you and Christian Taylor directed together. What are some of your personal favorite mockumentaries?
I absolutely loved Molly Dineen’s documentary on Gerri Halliwell. Although it wasn’t a mockumentary – in places it could have been. I was fascinated by their relationship and how co-dependent they became whilst making the film.
Of course This is Spinal Tap is a masterpiece of the genre but so is Woody Allen’s Zelig. Christopher Guest is a master of the genre but Waiting for Guffman & Best in Show are my favourites. I also loved Man Bites Dog & Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man, which kept me up all night after I saw it questioning what is fact and what is fiction.
Was it acting that you first thought of pursuing, or did you always want to focus exclusively on direction? What are the reasons that pushed you in that direction? Do you consider yourself more of a director, an actress or a writer?
I am definitely a director.
Which artists have influenced you the most in your career so far? What are your cinematic influences?
There are so many – I am very influenced by Stills Photographers – I have had many favourites over the years from Diane Arbus, Philip Lorca DiCorcia / Nan Goldin / Joel Meyerowitz William Egglestone / Ron Galella / Cinema influences range from Roman Polanski / Hal Ashby / Jane Campion / Krzysztof Kieslowski / John Casavettes / Jacques Audriard / Pawel Pawlikowsky / Lynne Ramsey.
Read at Unsung Films: The Laughing King.
When you’re writing, do you also mentally direct?
I write as I see it. I get really caught up in the stage directions – I think the beauty of film is that you can say so much visually and with sound design.
Do you empathize with all your heroes? Even your less admirable ones?
Yes always. If I didn’t care about my protagonist, then I couldn’t expect an audience to.
Your work so far reflects on some important modern social issues. Do you think that an artist should be socially and, at times, even politically involved?
Not necessarily – I think involvement is a personal choice but I think an artist has a duty to raise questions and make work that creates debate.
Your latest project is the short film, The Laughing King. What pushed you to make this film?
A dear friend (Shaun Carmody) who I had worked with for years commited suicide – it was particularly painful for me as my younger brother, Marcus had taken his life when I was 21 and he was 19. Shaun was a stylist & costume designer & we had collaborated creatively on many projects. I wanted to make this film for him and in memory of my brother.
How long was it in the making? Did it all go smoothly? Any problems that you wish to comment on?
We had a script in January and we shot it in May. It was a challenge as the schedule meant that we had to shoot it in two days.
What are your thought on the overall process as well as the actors with whom you chose to collaborate?
Kerrie Hayes & Colin Morgan were in my mind right from the beginning. Kerrie because we have worked together a lot (She was the lead in my film KICKS) and she’s an extraordinary actor. Colin because he can tell you everything without saying a word. The crazy thing was the coincidence that I got to direct him in two scenes on Humans where I happened to be working as a 2nd Unit Director. It was so fortuitous – I asked him if he would read the script and he committed four days later.
What would you like the audience to take from The Laughing King?
I would like people to see that out of despair there can be hope.
Why do you think that the percentage of male suicide is so high? Has the way that people connect nowadays changed?
Men struggle with any notion of vulnerability and find it hard to reach out and ask for help – I think this is why organisations like CALM are so important in reaching out to young men.
What are you thinking of working on next?
I am working on a feature film called 4Real, which we are hoping to shoot next year.
What about theatre? Would you care to branch out in the near future?
Yes, I would love to direct a play.
Sofia Paftounou interviewed Lindy Heymann for Unsung Films in May 2016.