Alex Kalymnios graduated from Bournemouth University with a degree in TV and Video Production in 2002. By the time she was 27 she had a string of awards to her name and was directing Hollyoaks.
Like many creatives, Alex’s direction was mapped out early. ‘I have always been interested in storytelling which I think began from my passion for acting,’ she says.
‘While at school, I directed my first play and discovered it was much more fun working behind the scenes and seeing it all come together and I realised that directing was what I wanted to do.’
University gave Alex the opportunity to write and direct her first four short films, as well as teaching her the technical aspects of production. After she graduated, she was headhunted by Children’s BBC where worked as a runner before working her way up to Assistant Producer.
In their footsteps
Inspired by the greats including Baz Lurhmann and Hitchcock, Alex set herself a tough act to follow. While working at the BBC she was awarded funding from The Enfield Film Council for a short script she had written.
The resulting film, More than a Job’s Worth went on to be screened at film festivals worldwide, winning ‘Best New Director’ at the Greenwich Film Festival 2005.
‘Because of the film I was selected for The Berlinale Talent Campus, the CBBC Drama Directing Scheme and also Yorkshire TV’s Directing course,’ says Alex.
At the same time she was sending off her showreel in order to get her first break in TV drama directing. Then, in summer 2007 she was invited to direct two episodes of Hollyoaks, which then led onto a further ten episodes.
‘I was so excited to be working on such a great flagship show. Hollyoaks has a huge following so to be trusted to direct it was a great honour and a fantastic opportunity. It was also great being able to direct a show that my friends actually watch,’ she says.
Life on set
‘I would wake each day at 6.30am and be on set at 8am,’ she explains. ‘We filmed on average nine minutes of drama a day. As there are lots of different crews filming at the same time, often your actors have just come from another set so it’s a very tight ship.’
For Alex, the best part of the job is seeing everything come together. ‘It’s that transformation from script to screen.’
When it comes to her plans for the future Alex has only two words, ‘Hollywood baby!’ But while her success may have come quickly she offers no illusions of the determination required by new graduates looking to break into the industry.
‘To be a film/TV director you have to be extremely driven,’ she says. ‘Enthusiasm and passion go a long way but ultimately you need to get the best out of your team to make it happen.
There will be obstacles and loads of rejection - but if you want it bad enough you won’t let it stop you achieving.’