If you end up with the story you started with, then you’re not listening along the way.
Filmmaker and ’Wick alumnus Matt Heineman ’01 lives by those words each and every day — using his lens to tell multi-dimensional stories about the harrowing truths of the human experience.
“You need to be open to the story changing and to the wonderful accidents of life,” Heineman told Upper School students and faculty during his return to Brunswick. “It’s good advice for life and for filmmaking — and I’ve held it true to my heart throughout my career.”
Heineman is the director of the critically acclaimed documentary films Cartel Land, which explores vigilantes taking on Mexican drug cartels; and City of Ghosts, chronicling the Syrian media activist group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently in its fight against the atrocities of ISIS.
Most recently, Heineman directed his first narrative feature film, A Private War, a biographical drama following the front-line journalism of celebrated war correspondent Marie Colvin.
He found his professional calling in New Orleans as a recent Dartmouth College graduate, capturing a man’s return to his home in the 9th Ward three months after Hurricane Katrina.
“It was such a privilege to be there for such an emotional moment,” Heineman said. “I knew that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.”
And while he’s been honored with a host of accolades and awards for his work — including an Emmy win and an Oscar nomination — Heineman has learned to take more satisfaction in the process than in the reward.
“It’s so silly to have your whole life oriented toward one moment, one award, or one shiny object,” he said. “The journey is what’s most important.
“I encourage you to keep your eyes, mind, and heart open as you progress — and to be open to the story changing.”