Regent's
alumna directing BBC One drama

Isabelle Sieb, a 2013 graduate of Regent's BA Screenwriting & Producing programme, is already setting the directing world alight, having recently been asked to direct the final three episodes of the new series of the critically acclaimed BBC One hit show Shetland, to be broadcast in 2019.

Impressive though it may be at such a young age, Shetland is not Sieb's television directorial debut, having also been the lead director on Sky One's new 26-episode TV drama The Athena, which is also set for broadcast in 2019.

"I've just finished working on the Athena - it's a bit like Glee, which is one of my favourite shows from a years ago, without the music aspect. It's basically about a group of students at art school, a group of outsiders finding their voice, and it's really sweet and heartwarming," commented Sieb.

"I directed the pilot last year, then it got picked up by Sky, and I went on to direct the first block, which is six episodes. I was very lucky to get the first block of that as my first TV job. That doesn't happen very often, and I got to set up a new show which was really fun - hard work, but really fun! It'll be out February next year on Sky One."

Sieb will spend the next six months on location in Scotland's Shetland Isles, and is relishing the opportunity to try her hand at something completely different.

"Shetland's been running for a couple of years now. I'm really excited because it's kind of the opposite of the show I've just done - it's very dark and bleak and grim, and very cinematic and Scandi noir. It's really, really exciting, as it's got some very respected and well known actors working on it."

An award-winning British-German director, she has also directed four fiction short films that have played at festivals both internationally and in the UK, and have won her several awards and nominations.

Sieb has previously been selected as one of five directors for Creative England's iShorts+ Funny Girls scheme, in partnership with Big Talk and Babycow Productions, with her film Three Women Wait for Death, written by BAFTA-nominated writer Nat Luurtsema. The film won the Chris Collins Best of British Live Action award at the Oscar - and BAFTA -qualifying Encounters Film Festival 2016, and was long-listed for the Best British Short Film BAFTA 2017.

She was also selected for Northern Film & Media's Rise feature film development and mentoring scheme in 2015, and for Edinburgh International Film Festival's prestigious feature film development scheme Connections in 2016 with writer Emer Kenny.

Does she have any tips for those hoping to follow in her footsteps?

"I graduated five years ago in 2013, and I made a lot of short films after that. It's quite tricky becoming a director because nobody can really tell you how to do it and what the steps are, so you kind of have to go and figure it out yourself. For me, that was making short films.

"I just kept making them. They were pretty rubbish at first, and then they slowly got better, hopefully!

"In 2014 I applied to a BFI scheme called Funny Girls, where they selected five female directors and funded them to make a short comedy film, and I luckily was one of the five they picked for that. The short film ending up doing really well at film festivals, and that got me signed to my agent, and they started sending me out for meetings and interviews.

"When you get an agent that's kind of when you get that stamp of approval of 'you are now professional', and that then made it possible for me to go and meet production companies for TV jobs. I did lots and lots of interviews and didn't get the job, and then eventually, after a year and a half, I got the pilot of the Athena, and that's been the start to my professional career. 

"Getting paid to direct that only happened last year, so it's still very nice and exciting!"

Isabelle is currently developing an original comedy-drama TV series with Sacha Baron Cohen and Andrew Newman's production company Spelthorne Community Television and Channel 4, an original drama series with the Emmy and BAFTA-winning Kindle Entertainment, as well as another original drama series with the Emmy and BAFTAwinning Kudos, all co-created with and written by Kefi Chadwick.

Watch College Romance - The Musical Isabelle Sieb's final year project on Vimeo.