Matthijs van Heijningen (1965) was born in Amsterdam. As the son of a legendary Dutch film producer, Matthijs was basically raised on film sets. He learned all there is to learn about camera and lighting, set building and editing.
No wonder he shirked the initial intentions to study Dutch Law and founded IJswater films with friends, to chase the real dream – features. Development and funding however turned out to be a snooze fest. And so Matthijs started flirting with commercials where everything seemed possible and with way more money to spend. Inspired by Rene Eller’s spots (and how Alan Parker used commercials to break into features) he turned a different path and rang Czar’s doorbell.
There he met Saskia who in the end became his producer. Working with her turned out to be the missing link he needed to take things further. They turned every production into the best possible film and had fun at the same time. Big plans grew by the day and their strong ambition lead up to the foundation of Bonkers in 1999. Back then it was bonkers. Because no one had ever left Czar before - assuming they could do at least as well on their own.
Their ballsiness paid off. The very next year, Matthijs won Silver and Gold Lions at Cannes for Delta Lloyd’s ‘Parade’ and UN’s ‘100 people’. More glory followed for Delta Lloyd, Centraal Beheer, Heineken, Pepsi, Adidas, Volkswagen, PlayStation to name a few. After the crazy global response to Peugeot ‘The Sculptor’ Matthijs joined MJZ for worldwide representation, with the exception of France (75.tv) and NL naturally.
In 2006 Matthijs moved to LA and made his first Hollywood feature. The 2007 prequel to John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ for Universal. Matthijs never lost his love for commercials. In 2012, Canal+ ‘The Bear’ nabbed him his first Cannes’s Grand Prix for Film Craft.
Matthijs’ signature is strong characters and storytelling. He will take a script and develop the character and mine it for humor and truth. Whether it’s a fuzzy purple monster that hates your boss or a plucky ostrich that wants to fly, every film has a hero that’s basically Matthijs himself.
Matthijs and his family are now back in Amsterdam. One of the best commercial directors in the world, living happily among the canals. What a trip. And Matthijs isn’t even tired.