Growing up in Leverkusen, Gemany, Uta Briesewitz entertained the idea of becoming a painter. But she was concerned “about the isolation that comes with the choice of such a career.”
On the other hand, being on a set with 200 extras last year for “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” made her feel “like a kid in a candy store.” Clearly, Briesewitz is not a woman who was meant to work alone.
She grew up “glued to films” shown on German television, with a preference for the Nouvelle Vague as well as Italian and French fare. “I was always fascinated with images,” says Briesewitz, who now lives in Glendale, Calif. “When I was a young child, I would only look at books that had images in them. If they didn’t have images, I wouldn’t touch them. The image was always the reward for me.”
Her images have been the reward for viewers of HBO’s “The Wire,” which Briesewitz shot from 2002-’04, before moving on to the series “LAX” and “Thief.” She recently completed the pilot for Alexander Payne’s HBO project “Hung,” and the Steven Spielberg-created “The United States of Tara,” with Toni Collette and John Corbett. TV has been very very good to her.
“When I took ‘The Wire,’ some of my indie friends said, ‘Oh that’s bad — don’t do television or you’ll never do another movie again,’ and I said, ‘Listen, I see so many independent scripts, and just because they’re independent doesn’t mean they’re great.’ If I see a good TV script, I prefer to do that. TV helped me make a living. TV helped me survive.”
And yet: “Like everyone else, I’m aiming for the big features,” she says. “I had to pinch myself doing (“Walk Hard”) because it was such a wonderful experience, and I’d love to go back to that, where you really create huge illusions and work with a great budget and incredibly talented people.”
Film that changed my life: Not a film, a series: “The Wire”
Mentor or inspiration: Robert Colesberry, exec producer of “The Wire” (2002-04).
Tool I can’t do without: “My Magnum dolly. I own one. I have a very specific way of operating, and coming from Germany, I tried to conform to the American dollies, but it didn’t quite work.”
Agents: Jonathan Silverman, Devin Mann and Troy Knowles at Endeavor