INTERVIEW: Director, Writer, And Actor Marianne Hettinger Discusses Her Amazon Film Prince Harming

Prince Harming is a new film from multi-faceted filmmaker Marianne Hettinger who fills the roles of producer, writer, director, and star in a movie that tackles dark issues with a little comedy and a lot of hope.

Marianne’s latest film lives on Amazon, where it is available for viewing in your favorite pajama pants. However, be warned, the film’s sweet opening, a girl meets boy rom-com setup takes some dark turns. Prince Harming is a mix of comedy and heavy drama starring Andreas Beckett as Max Bauer, a former Olympic ski jumper. Marianne is Victoria Timm, a woman holding out hope for her Prince Charming. Victoria idolized Max as a young woman, so when she meets him in real life, and they hit it off, Victoria thinks she’s found her happily ever after.

PopAxiom spoke with Marianne about her road to becoming a filmmaker.

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Editing In My Brain

Marianne was born and raised in Germany. “My earliest movie memory was when I was five years old … I was not allowed to watch television yet. I snuck out the window, and from the outside, I watched An American In Paris with Gene Kelly.”

Marianne would peek through the housekeeper’s window and think, “I want to do what he does!”

Unable to hear the sound, the housekeep would “… record it for me. I would listen to it under my pillow on a tape recorder. So, this is like the earliest form of editing in my brain. I knew what American in Paris looked like, and then I’d listen to the sound and put the two together.”

Marianne’s creative soul burst forth from an early age. “I started writing when I was seven years old with fantastic stories about dragons and witches.”

Marianne first came to the United States at 16 then returned long-term at 19. “It was quite a journey. I first had to learn the language.”

The young, future writer and director “… came to New York by myself. I studied dancing, acting, and directing at the National Shakespeare Conservatory.”

Marianne’s first attempt at directing a film came in the late 90s. “I saw someone in the park singing … he was his own one-man-band. Amazing guy. I thought, ‘I gotta film him!’ So, I asked his permission and started making a documentary about him. That was is in 1999.”

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About Prince Harming

Marianne never finished that documentary, but she pressed on to write, direct, and produce five shorts and two feature films.

Her latest film, Prince Harming, is a personal, semi-autobiographical story. “I wanted it to look like a documentary.”

Many of Marianne’s real-life experiences form the basis of the film. “What happens when a woman falls in love with someone she idolized all her life? She meets the real person, and it’s a real Jekyll and Hyde persona.”

Prince Harming only happened after Marianne took “… a few years to gain the proper perspective.”

Prince Harming tackles topics such as manipulation and domestic abuse. “Your self-esteem gets chipped, and after a while, you feel inferior, and you have this assigned role. People say, ‘Why didn’t you get out of it?’ But you have to empower yourself to get it done.”

Indie Filmmaking

Making movies is always a battle against how much money the production has access too. It’s even more of a challenge the indie film world. “It’s all about finances,” said Marianne. “I find wonderful people to work with who will work on deferred pay.”

Prince Harming, like any movie, featured plenty of ups and downs during production. “In the first week, the DP [Director of Photography] was having a heart problem. He turned pale and had to go to the hospital. The whole crew was there. Thankfully he recovered, but he couldn’t do the shoot. I had already invested the money and hired the crew so I had to find a new DP in 12 hours.”

Teamwork makes the dream work, and Marianne is part of a tight-knit and reliable network. “I’m part of Film Fatales, a women’s directors group. They recommended several people to me for the film and I found our backup DP Valentina Caniglia. She had to improvise because we had a whole different setup.”

For the shoot, Marianne wanted to keep it as real as she could. “We shot in this tiny apartment. At times we crammed in 12 to 18 people in a 250 square foot apartment for a whole month.”

Darkside of Entertainment

Marianne is a stunning woman in the vein of classic Hollywood. She’s tall, blonde, and her face lights up a room. “I lived in New York by myself in Hell’s Kitchen. It was, at times, dangerous and I was constantly approached by people wanting me to model and be in their projects. I came to a city where I had no family, and I just wanted to be an artist.”

As explored in Prince Harming, a lot of abuse begins with manipulation. Abusers tend to seek out people who are isolated too. Marianne’s personal #MeToo stories are all too familiar for women and she makes a point to say, “It happens to men too, by the way, so many of my friends were approached in those ways.”

Marianne started writing Prince Harming in 2013, long before the #MeToo movement, but she could not have completed the film in a more timely manner. “It’s a power play. Here’s a man who was looked up to as a public persona, and he takes advantage of that.”

Stories of sexual misconduct and harassment by powerful men often involve them taking advantage of the trust given to them by merely having status. Marianne’s personal experiences make Prince Harming all that more grounded and terrifying. “There are subtle signs at first, and I wanted to empower people to come forward before it gets to a darker place.”

Wrapping Up

Marianne says some of the filmmakers who inspire her are “Werner Herzog. He’s fantastic. Oliver Stone. I’ve met him. I think he’s so gutsy. Susan Seidelman, who directed Desperately Seeking Susan.”

Above all, there is one original inspiration for Marianne: “Gene Kelly …”

In the age of remakes, reboots, and re-imaginings, what would Marianne love to create again? “Anything Gene Kelly made. Singing in the Rain. I know it’s sacred, but I’d do it a little darker and more humor.”

Prince Harming is available on Amazon. Coming up, Marianne says, “I’m working on a musical. I also have a script about sex trafficking that I wrote with a real FBI agent. It’s about the Russian mob and an international sex trafficking ring.”

Is Prince Harming on your watch list?

Thanks to Marianne Hettinger and Impact24 PR
for making this interview possible.

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Ruben Diaz
Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.