Calling Home: Jessica Hobbs in London

by Sunday Morning

It’s been a big week for New Zealand TV director Jessica Hobbs following her breakthrough Emmy win for her work on The Crown.

Jessica Hobbs won best drama series director at the Emmy Awards Photo: Dave Bennett

The London-based filmmaker was born into the industry, having joined her mum, director Aileen O’Sullivan, on set for a role in local mini-series The Governor as a child.

After becoming an assistant director on films like Dame Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table, Hobbs went on to Australia, where she directed shows like Heartbreak High and The Slap, which got her invited to the UK to work on Broadchurch. The rest, as they say, is history.

Hobbs said awards ceremonies are always “quite loaded occasions” and she was not expecting to get an Emmy.

“And then I had that very odd sensation of kind of time travelling backwards and me thinking ‘oh, oh my god I think they just said my name – now I have to do something’.”

She said prior to the announcement she was quite relaxed but when she found out she had won uttered an expletive in surprise.

“I had no idea that the fact that I had sworn was captured on camera until my family gleefully sent me the clip – so I was very embarrassed.”

Hobbs said The Crown has an extraordinary level of resources which she initially found terrifying.

But she said it was a supportive and generous producing team.

“The best producers I’ve ever worked with to be honest, and perhaps it’s because they have that scale of budget to support them and they assign a personal producer to each director, which is an unusual thing in television but it means you feel very supported right from pre-production until the end of your post.”

Hobbs said prior to the show she was not a monarchist nor even a royal follower but that allowed her “to perhaps examine what the humanity was for them”.

She said The Crown increased her respect for the breadth of the royal experience, particularly for the Queen.

“I have extraordinary respect for that woman and what she does and what she represents and her duty above all else to her country is something that I can’t help but admire.”

Members of the royal family can offer a lot as individuals, such as Prince Charles’ environmental work, and they are doing a job by representing an institution which the public expects them to uphold, Hobbs said.


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