Director/Writer Todd Heyman
Last week Director/Writer Todd Heyman was a best commercial Webby honoree for his Nike+ commercial (http://www.toddheymandirector.com). Originally from Boston, Todd was not one of those kids who picked up a camera and made a baby "Seven Samurai", but was certainly engaged in all the elements that make up filmmaking. He was writing, illustrating and selling his own comic books at 7 which are essentially storyboards. It was after college and purely by chance that he was seated next to Harvey Weinstein at a film premiere. He was able to convince Harvey to hire him to create campaigns for Miramax. Eventually he dove in and made his first short film Prodigy, followed by Wholey Moses which premiered at the Tribeca film festival and played on HBO.He then chose to direct commercials.Todd writes and develops his own treatments, draws his own storyboards,creates his own animatics and edits his own work which is unusual in the ad world. When he creates a commercial he engages his viewers by surprising them and by creating a "mini movie" feel.
Films that have inspired you?
I loved horror movies early on. Halloween. The Shining. The Omen. The Exorcist. Jaws. I loved the idea of going through this terrifying journey to come out safe on the other side. I think Jaws was the first movie that I started to become aware of the filmmaker. That this was someone's vision. And I think instinctively I started to pay attention to technique. I also had a thing for classic movies as a teenager. Casablanca. Anything with Humphrey Bogart. And I thought Ingrid Bergman was just a knockout. My model for women I date, forever I think. I loved Witness with Harrison Ford. Rocky always got me choked up. Taxi Driver. The Professional. True Romance. Reservoir Dogs. Goodfellas blew me away. I think I have a thing for romance and danger in the same film.
Directors that you admire? I tend to like individual films rather than a director's body of work but there are some I admire. Spielberg, although I haven't loved everything he's done, is a genius storyteller. The early stuff. There are few directors as economical in conveying the core of a scene and getting to your gut... Peter Weir rarely has made a bad film. I love Fearless with Jeff Bridges. Subtle and powerful. I think François Ozon is dynamic. Swimming Pool was an original vision. Christopher Nolan's a future icon. Can't wait for The Dark Knight. Park Chan-wook, who directed Oldboy, is a powerhouse. He's got it all. Visual strength and grace. And he elicits great performances.
Best part of being part of the film industry in NY? Well LA is where most of the work is. So that's a pro. But it can be a con too because you can get lost in the sea of it all. That's just my perception. I haven't spent a ton of time there. New York has it's own language and can convey a lot with a simple location. I'm also an East Coast guy. So I speak that language.
Projects you would like to work on in the future? I want to work on commercials for a bit. Hone my craft before I get back to narrative. I'd love to do raw futuristic commercials. Mini movies that cause your jaw to drop.
How does NY inspire you? New York is punk rock. It's got a raw visceral energy but it can really beat you up..it makes you have to fight for your meals if you know what I mean. And I really believe that's healthy. It's also a muse. Inspiration lurks around every corner. In the way people interact. In the way the sun lines up along the streets in a Manhattan Solstice (Look it up. It's gorgeous). In the fact that the best and the brightest all flock here and make you bring out your A-game.
Favorite websites? I'm not a casual browser. It's mostly for work. but I love the movie trailers at apple.com for obvious reasons. Thesaurus.com has been a godsend for brain freezes. GettyImages.com for visual references. I'm not a big social networking guy but I end up on Facebook here and there.
Favorite places to go out? Well that's all shifted for me. I did my stint at Bungalow and the like but I like a more intimate scene now. I like 105 Riv. They're great people and always welcoming. I like the feel of La Esquina. Like an old Mexican prison. Barrio Chino. I'm glad Sub Mercer's back.