David Reviews

 "You're not an artist, Peggy. You solve problems." Don Draper.

SOUL TO SOUL WITH
HANNA MARIA HEIDRICH.
14 March 2023

A conversation with Hanna Maria Heidrich had been on the cards for over a year before we finally managed to 'meet' over Zoom a little while ago. Our wide-ranging conversation focused on 'Souls' - a German-language episodic drama which almost defies categorisation - but eventually took in a great deal more, and it was impossible not be impressed by her verve, energy and charisma.

After we'd congratulating ourselves on finally starting the long-promised conversation, we talked about her relatively low profile in the UK, where it feels, despite her huge success elsewhere, she's still an undiscovered talent. She knows this is mere happenstance, and, between us, we agreed she could not have a more vigorous champion than James Covill at Believe Media UK. It's just the way the dice have fallen... so far.


I'm now longing for something more quirky, something less polished, something that's less big in a way. And I think that is where the the UK market is more interesting.

 ”

When, in 2018, she was tasked with directing Pepsi's Super Bowl commercial, she recognised that it would likely take her up to the next level. Which it did, but that brings new challenges: "going to the next step means you are suddenly pitching against your former idols, and that means that you don't win all of those pitches."


As she described her own response to this challenge, you can see how driven she is: "I realised I would have to work so much harder than anyone else, so I would deliver the absolute killer, killer, killer treatment."

But in the rarefied atmosphere closer to the summit of the mountain, being fantastically well prepared isn't always enough: "Sometimes it doesn't matter how good your treatment is, because this other guy has fifteen years more on his reel."


For years I was sending a message to the universe that was saying, I want to do more car work.

 ”

With a broad smile evident beneath the broad-brimmed hat she wears for our conversation, it's evident she relishes the challenge of this seemingly unwinnable fight and it feels as though nothing could daunt her.

And her confidence has a solid foundation. US agencies have welcomed the opportunity to work with her and she spent a lot of 2022 on the other side of the Atlantic working on a number of different American jobs, as she often has in previous years.


It's probably another measure of her competitiveness that she set her sights in particular on car commercials, probably the product sector where outdated notions mean the ads are least likely to be directed by a woman: "For years I was sending a message to the universe that was saying, I want to do more car work. And I think it was a little internal game as there were not a lot of female directors really doing that."

Heidrich more than ticked that box and really began to enjoy this work, but has set herself a new 'internal challenge': "I'm now longing for something more quirky, something less polished, something that's less big in a way. And I think that is where the the UK market is more interesting."


Having asked the universe (and the creatives who read DAVID REVIEWS) to manifest her wish to see the scripts that would enable her to make the wonderfully quirky advertising she associates with London agencies, we begin speaking about 'Souls' - the drama dreamed up by her partner Alex Eslam during lockdown.

Heidrich directed three episodes of 'Souls', and it's clear that the husband and wife team work incredibly harmoniously together, not least because it's not that long since the couple added parenthood to their already busy schedule.


The pitching process isn't good for directors any more.

 ”

As Hanna Maria Heidrich details the plot of the drama, her enthusiasm for it bubbles over. She sees it much more as her husband's project than her own - he wrote it, after all - and that allows her to speak about it like a fan might.

It sounded mighty intriguing and when we got the chance to watch it when it was broadcast in the UK, we were delighted to discover that none of this enthusiasm was misplaced. It is an immensely intelligent drama and is fascinating from beginning to end. Often when writers establish a premise as promising as this, the denouement is ultimately disappointing. 'Souls' bucks this trend by providing a very satisfying conclusion, and is beautifully measured and often very funny, on its journey towards it. (It's available to watch on Sky Atlantic, and you should).

Just as we were preparing to say our goodbyes, Hanna had one more thing she wanted to talk about, and it chimed very much with DAVID because it concerned the issue of treatment writing, something to which we have dedicated time and space in the past year.

Hanna feels very strongly that "the pitching process isn't good for directors any more." She set out a number of scenarios which are distinctly unfair to directors: projects where it hasn't yet been determined if they'll definitely go ahead; projects where she has been in competition with four other directors; and, most of all, she feels it's ridiculous that directors provide so many free ideas during the pitching process.

Hanna's answer is to change the culture around pitching, and she's approached some like-minded directors in Germany to establish guidelines in a bid to ensure that pitching isn't slanted against them, and that a flat fee is provided to cover the cost of a pitch.

This imitative has built up a head of steam, and at the time of our conversation, the agency trade body in Germany was about to meet to discuss this idea.

She feels it's an exportable idea, and hopes to persuade directors in other territories to adopt the same principles. Based on conversations DAVID has had with film production companies in the UK, Hanna is likely to be pushing on an open door. The devil is often in the detail but if an international agreement could be forged, no one would be happier than the every busy, ever pro-active, incredibly impressive Hanna Maria Heidrich as it would mean the universe had manifested yet another of her ambitious wishes.

For more information on Hanna Maria Heidrich, contact James Covill on 07802 260021 or via email using james@believemedia.com.

News

TV KLAXON: REN FAIRE.

'Ren Faire', a new three-part documentary series from director Lance Oppenheim, centres on the Texas Renaissance Festival—an event in the midst of a succession crisis.


PHC JOIN ACADEMY FILMS.

Academy Films have signed PHC, or John Angus Stewart and Max Coles.


TRIGGER'S THE MAN FOR NM PRODUCTIONS.

Photographer and petrolhead Triggerhas signed with NM Productions.


DIRECTOR JON RICHE SIGNS WITH ANOTHER FILM CO

Experienced comedy director Jon Riche has joined the roster at Another Film Co, and making audiences laugh isn't the only string to his bow.


A GOOD DAY FOR HANNAH BON AND RIFF RAFF.

Multilingual, multidisciplinary director Hannah Bon is now part of the Nursery of Evil roster at Riff Riff Films.


THE CORNER SHOP WELCOME AKWASI POKU.

The Corner Shop have signed Akwasi Poku to their global roster.


LALOU & JOAQUIN JOIN CHELSEA PICTURES.

Directors Lalou Dammond and Joaquin Baca-Asay, or Lalou & Joaquin, have joined Chelsea Pictures for representation in the UK and the US.


PETE SCIBERRAS ARRIVES AT STITCH.

Peter Sciberras, revered editor of films such as 'The Power of the Dog' and 'The King', is now on the books at Stitch.


LUCKY NUMBER SEVEN FOR IMAGINE THIS.

The roster at Imagine This, the creative studio launched by Toby Walsham in March, has grown from seventeen to twenty-four.


ALESSANDRO DE LEO SIGNS FOR BIRTH.

Birth have signed an "unstoppable force" in Italian director Alessandro de Leo.


J HUS 'ALIEN GIRL'

Picnic Studio, repped by Partizan, direct an interactive music video for 'Alien Girl' by J Hus.


DOG EAT DOG ADDS ANNE-SOFIE LINDGAARD TO THEIR ROSTER.

London-based Danish writer/director Anne Sofie Lindgaard has been added to the roster at DogEatDog.


SHARIF ABDEL MAWLA JOINS FRIEND.

FRIEND London have completed the signing of Dutch director Sharif Abdel Mawla for UK representation.


HAMLET LAND YOUSEF.

Mononymous director Yousef is now represented by HAMLET in Belgium, France, China, and the Asia–Pacific.


UNTOLD STUDIOS SIGN ELEANOR HANN AND BALAN EVANS.

The music video roster at Untold Studios now boasts Eleanor Hann and Balan Evans.


JOCELYN ANQUETIL JOINS CAVIAR.

Jocelyn Anquetil, director of commercials and music videos, has signed for Caviar in the UK and the Netherlands.


FILM KLAXON: ALT SHIFT LIFE.

Laura Checkoway's 'Alt Shift Life' flits between Nashville, Tennessee, Bangalore, India, and the Bronx in New York City for a story about technology and new starts.


STINI ROEHRS GOES TO PARTIZAN.

Stini Roehrs, or Stini Röhrs for all you umlaut lovers, has joined Partizan's UK roster.


FILM KLAXON: SO LET ME TELL YOU A LITTLE STORY.

Marshall Street Editors, and director Sam Huntley are proud to present 'So Let Me Tell You a Little Story'.


JOHNNY FOREIGNER TOAST MATTHIAS LEBEER.

Belgian director Matthias Lebeer has partnered with Johnny Foreigner as he further strengthens his position in the UK market.


OBJECT & ANIMAL WELCOMES 91 RULES

Directing duo Erik Saltzman and Cameron Tidball-Sciullo who go by 91 Rules will now be represented by Object & Animal in all territories (apart from France).


THE BTS THREAD

This thread includes all the BTS films that we come across and will be added to on a regular basis.


IT'S HELEN & KIM FOR DARLING FILMS.

Helen J Raine and Kim Hinrichs, or Helen & Kim for those in a rush, have signed with Darling Films.


MATTHIAS HOENE JOINS SNAPPER

Acclaimed director Matthias Hoene has joined Helen Hadfield's band of merry men and women at Snapper Films.


MERMAN LAND MARK ALBISTON.

Merman top brass have only gone and signed Mark Albiston to their roster.


News

Address: Woodbourne House, Seven Sisters, Lenzie, G66 3AW. Telephone: +44 141 776 7766. Editor: Jason Stone.