2 Minutes With ... Anna Himma, Director at Iconoclast

On staging music videos and trusting her voice

Anna Himma is an Estonian director. She is mainly known for her work with the rapper Tommy Cash. Her clips convey a stylized realization and a fresh, challenging aesthetic. We spent two minutes with Anna to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.

Anna, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Tallinn, Estonia and I am back here now after spending time away. I was in London when the pandemic lockdowns started, and I decided to come home. I've stayed for now, but I am looking to move back to London or maybe to L.A. for a little while.

How you first realized you were creative.

I don't know if there was a specific moment, but as a child I was always doing something creative. We would sing or perform. We always made home horror movies with ketchup for blood and other low budget effects. When you're a kid, being creative is just play and we were doing this all the time. 

A person you idolize creatively early on.

I was obsessed with David Lynch in my early teens. I saw his movies and I had to know what motivated him, how he worked and what he was saying. I saw all of his films and read every biography. He was definitely my first directorial crush. 

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

I wasn't very happy at high school. I felt different to the other kids, and I never really found a clique. After middle school, I found a great group of friends but never really felt creative energy around me. Looking back, I think I was a bit too insecure to really lean into being creative. At school, it was being hammered into all of us to choose a career that was more 'practical.' I felt being a creative had no value - and that was incredibly depressing for me.  

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

There are so many. But if I have to choose someone to mention it’s Anna Uddenberg, who is really great. She has a very rich visual language. She is always weaving narratives into the way she uses aesthetics, and that’s something I feel the creative industry overall doesn’t do often enough. Aesthetics are rarely used consciously and symbolically—even though, ultimately, doing so can be a great tool for storytelling.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

There is a book that I bought a few years ago, and I have now read three times because I love the poetic nature of the writing and the story. It’s Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk. I bought it because it has this beautiful blue cover and I could not take my eyes off it. It turned out that you can sometimes judge a book by its cover because I still love it today. 

Your favorite fictional character.

This is a difficult question. I think we connect with different characters at different times in our lives. We love the ones that show us what we need. I do like Petra from Rainer Werner Fassbinder's film, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. It's not that I feel like her or even like her as a person that much, but she is this glamorous, fascinating character to see through a film as she swims through her trials and tribulations in a slow-burn story. 

Someone or something worth following on social media.

Not really, I mostly want to escape social media. I do follow podcasts though and I love to listen to the films podcast Team Deakins with cinematographer Roger Deakins and James Deakins, his collaborator. They’re always discussing something really interesting in each episode.  

How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.

The pandemic changed my life in terms of my location. In March 2020 I was in London when the lockdowns were announced. By that evening I was at the airport to come home to Tallinn. No-one knew what was going on or for how long—I didn’t want to go through this away from my family. My grandmother was having surgery and I was concerned for her too. I don't regret coming back here to be closer to them and although things were less hysterical in Estonia, it provided some time for reflection. 

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on, and why.

Recently it would be directing the video for ‘Rhode’ by Svedaliza. It was my first collaboration with Iconoclast and I was given the space to bring my creative vision to life. It was hard though, I learned a lot about budgeting and compromise. There are decisions that I am really glad that I stuck to, even if they made things incredibly difficult, but I learned a lot from the process.

A recent project you're proud of, and why.

It would be the last one we released this year, "Out of Luck" by K. It was a very different way of shooting for me. More of a guerrilla style approach, running around, waiting to see what would happen. There was no schedule and we had different locations and we were able to let it flow. I didn’t try to control things too closely, it was more about creating a safe space for this slightly nutty, raw energy to emerge and it was more like I was managing chaos, but at the same time trying not to disturb or break these moments. It was an incredibly fascinating process to observe because there was no way to really tell what was gonna happen or what would come out of it. It was all just incredibly liberating.

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

Probably John Cassavetes, and his work with Gena Rowlands. They were married and their work really influenced me when I was in my late teens. The way he directs small moments to try and reveal greater truths is fascinating.

Someone else's work you admired lately.

Julia Ducournau's work. She has a very clear method of storytelling and an incredible style and execution. She is really carving her own path.

Your main strength as a creative person.

I can be quite bold. I put the idea ahead of everything else and pursue it all the way through. 

Your biggest weakness.

I can be a bit hot headed and that’s not always the easiest way to get things done. I’m not short tempered with other people, but I can be passionate and energetic about ideas when sometimes it is better to be calm. 

One thing that always makes you happy.

It makes me happy when my work can invoke questions or comment on something. And if it is meaningful to someone in whatever way.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Not being able to work makes me sad. When I am too tired, or I have worked too much. It is a balance that I am learning to manage. I am passionate about what I do, but I also need to learn that I can't burn all the time.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

Maybe music or acting. Definitely writing too. 

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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