One thing you can’t fault Julia von Heinz for... and that’s a dogged persistency to realize her dream of becoming a film director. Unlike some of her colleagues who had dabbled in filmmaking during their teenage years, Julia had her first brush with the audiovisual industry when she began a technical training program at public broadcaster WDR in Cologne at the age of 22.
“This was my first encounter with the medium of film and I initially worked with the idea of becoming a director of photography,” she recalls. Another practical course of training followed at the Technische Fachhochschule (TFH) in Berlin where she graduated as a qualified DoP. “But my innermost desire was to direct,” Julia says.
However, the film schools in Germany didn’t seem to recognize her potential talent at the time. In fact, it looked as if Julia’s dream might never be realized until she met director Rosa von Praunheim who was teaching at the University of Film & Television in Babelsberg.
“I became his artistic assistant and he was a real mentor for me, opening up lots of possibilities and contacts,” she explains. “He made it possible for me to make my first feature-length film Nothing Else Matters which premiered at the Berlinale in 2007 and won the German Film Awards’ Golden Lola in the category of Best Youth Film.
Initially, Julia wanted to follow this debut with another fiction project, but was then given the opportunity to make the documentary Noble Commitments produced by Kings&Queens Filmproduktion, the production company she founded with her husband John Quester in 2007.
“I enjoyed working on the documentary, but it does demand a lot time,“ Julia recalls. “That’s hard to combine all of this when, like me, you are a mother of three children. Making documentaries isn’t a hobby because you have to really reckon with spending a year of your life on a project.
“Each of my films has posed a different kind of challenge, and this wasn’t any different with Hanni & Nanni 2,” she continues. “I had always wanted to have a chance to entertain children and this project gave me the opportunity to work in a different narrative form.
Hanni & Nanni 2, which is again inspired by the famous St. Clare’s children’s book series by Enid Blyton, was produced by UFA Cinema at locations in Bavaria last summer and wфы released by Universal Pictures in Germany during 2012.