by Karl Liegis
Maria Paraskevopoulou entered my life in October 2003. We were sitting next to one another on our first day of “school” and were instructed by the lecturer to find out about the person next to us and then talk about them to the class. She was smart, funny, refreshingly honest, had a massive heart and wore stripy socks. All things I looked for in a friend.
Maria is the first director I ever met. I had met people who wanted to be directors, but she was one. Ok, we were at university studying, but she was there to hone her skills, not learn them from scratch. I on the other hand was all about supporting and enabling creativity in a production role, so it was natural that we would work on as many projects as we could together.
Maria was a huge part of my moving image education. She introduced me to many filmmakers, authors and musicians. We would finish uni, go to her flat, smoke a joint, listen to music, make some food, then watch films back to back or find music videos we liked and bounce ideas off one another. She introduced me to the work of Bergman, Tarkovsky, Kurasawa, Sartre, Ozu and Arkas. I was never competing with Maria, but I constantly strove to prove myself to her. Outside my family she was my biggest fan and my most honest critic. When she came back from studying in Canada she assumed we would be working together, but for me it was a surprise and an honor to be asked. She would direct and I would production manage. She gave me copies of all the educational documents she had been given in Canada and off we went.
When I look back at it now, our projects were always very professional set ups. We self financed the project, we shot on S16mm, we used a professional DP, we made deals, we held auditions, hired a composer, and had an actor travel to work with us. I still am very proud of ‘PR’. The film is brutal, sweet, exciting, brilliantly directed and has a dramatic impact. I saw the DP a few years later and he said it was still one of the things he was most proud of shooting.
When we graduated, Maria went back to Greece to work and I was fortunate enough to get running jobs in the UK. I visited her, she came back to the UK, but practical and personal situations saw us grow apart.
She is still one of the greatest directors I have ever worked with and if anyone reading this is looking for a director, or is considering producing Maria’s film, don’t hesitate. She is a talent who needs to be invested in and if she agrees to work with you, you will not regret it.