‘Sebastian is thoughtful and considered as a director, with an affinity with cast and a sophisticated eye’

  • 32
  • Director & writer
  • Freelance

Sebastian Thiel started out with the kind of work ethic most of us can only dream of. A self-taught film-maker, he set up his own company, Upshot Entertainment, at the age of 17, impatient at the notion of waiting for someone else to give him a chance.

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Initially, he was drawn to short films documenting social issues in under-represented communities. One of these, Trap Town, which explored the 2011 London riots, won a Screen Nation Digital Award and earned Thiel a place among the Evening Standard’s top 25 under-25 influential Londoners.

Switching focus to showcasing rising on-screen talent, he created YouTube comedy-drama Just A Couple, which caught the eye of Big Talk and also put him on a BBC new talent hotlist.

Thiel poured his experiences and feelings about representing the black community into directing Adjani Salmon’s Emmy-nominated BBC comedy-drama pilot Dreaming Whilst Black, which has led to gigs on Amazon/ITV drama Riches and Rapman’s Netflix series Supacell.

Big Talk head of comedy Saurabh Kakkar, who has followed Thiel’s rise over several collaborations, says he admires his “focus, determination and entrepreneurial work ethic”.

What sets Thiel apart for Kakkar is that he excels both as a writer – “original and sharp, with a knack of capturing modern dialogue in a way that feels effortless” – and a director “thoughtful and considered with an affinity with cast and a sophisticated eye”.