By Katie Chambers
Sophia Loren Heriveaux (b. 2000 – making her one of our youngest NYWIFT members) decided when she was in 7th grade that she was going to be a filmmaker. She is now a director-producer based in New York City and is interested in content of all kinds. Throughout the first half of 2022, Heriveaux has premiered two films at the Tribeca Festival; produced a show called Proof Love by a quirky new startup, Mad Realities; and is at the tail end of post-production for the pilot of her docuseries, Good Jazz Back to You.
Previously, Heriveaux has produced various documentaries (Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure, Grounded, Brut My Beauty), music videos (Legos, Food), and short films (Vodka, Breastmilk, Anything That Moves). Her work has brought her from New York to Los Angeles, France, South Africa, London, China, Ethiopia, and more, producing work out of a petite production company of her own, Goldfin.
We spoke to Heriveaux about her two Tribeca short films, both of which feature 16-year-old leading characters. In Vodka, which Heriveaux produced, a girl deals with loss, humor and reincarnation through drinking vodka for the first time on the day of her grandmother’s shiva. And in Chicken, for which Heriveaux served as 1st Assistant Director, a boy in a Bronx juvenile prison, faced with losing custody of his child, must discover what it takes to be a father through raising a chicken.
Congratulations on your two (TWO!!) projects at the Tribeca Festival – wow! What does inclusion in Tribeca mean to you? Have you gotten to experience any of the in-person festival this year?
Thank you so much! Premiering films at Tribeca is a true honor. This is the first big film festival I’ve had work exhibited at, so it is exciting. I am chiefly impressed by my peers. There were at least five or six films by filmmakers like me who are fresh out of or still in college. I’m sure that artists who have been at this for years are very familiar with the feeling, but I’m so proud to watch the hustlers I’ve grown up with doing big things already! And to experience all of this together is supreme!
Your dual credits at Tribeca as producer on one short and 1st AD on another speaks to a common industry experience of wearing many, many hats. How do you navigate switching gears in that way? And what is your dream job?
I’m a director and producer. I try not to deviate very far from those roles. I dabble in AD’ing as needed only for particularly special people or particularly special projects. Between development, pitching, financing, legalese, accounting, logistical planning, communications, networking, and more, those two already require a massively diverse set of skills in one’s toolkit. I absolutely want to continue balancing directing and producing throughout my career. I love both, hone natural strengths in both, and don’t see either one floating away from me.
Both films touch on themes of teens coming-of-age and growing into their power in different ways. Do you find yourself drawn to those types of stories?
I feel most drawn to projects that involve people I find talented and enjoy working with. It’s not necessarily coming-of-age stories, specifically, that interest me, but concepts that are compelling and utilize unique characters, environments, and themes to build their conflict.
Shorts have to convey a specific sense of setting and character in a brief amount of time (and often on a tiny budget), and show a distinctive arc from A to B. Both films accomplished that beautifully. As a producer on Vodka, starring a punk rock grandma and her hip but reticent granddaughter, how did you work to accomplish that? And how did you first get involved in the project?
Roxy [Sorkin, the director] is a friend of mine. We made her first short Breastmilk together and have worked together on other things as well. In Fall 2020, Roxy called me saying she had a new script that needed some “badass Sophia energy” to get it done. I did pre-pro from New York, we shot it in LA at the end of December, and worked on post through the Spring. All I can say is that it is a blessing what you can get done with a community of talented people who believe in you.
Chicken has impact partners including the NYC Administration for Children’s Services, among others. What do you hope audiences will take away from the film?
Audiences should walk away from Chicken reflecting on how they perceive children in juvenile detention. I hope they feel connected to these boys and compelled to make change for real kids like them.
What is next for you?
I am in the thick of post-production for the pilot of my docuseries, Good Jazz Back to You – which has NYWIFT as its fiscal sponsor, by the way!
[Editors’s note: learn about about the project and donate to it here on its fiscal sponsorship page!]
OK, bonus question, but inquiring minds want to know – are you named for screen legend Sophia Loren or is that a coincidence?
Great question. It’s half coincidence, half not. Let me know if you’d like to hear the long story! [Laughs]
We’ll have to leave that mystery for another day. In the meantime, learn more about and donate to Sophia’s NYWIFT fiscally sponsored project, Good Jazz Back to You, here on our website. This mixed-media limited docu-series glimpses into a world that is bright and lively, but rather underground these days: the New York jazz scene.
And learn more about the NYWIFT members at the 2022 Tribeca Festival here.