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Just one year after nabbing the honors of Best Director and Best Drama at the College Television Awards for his short film Thief, 26-year-old Julian Higgins Monday night made his official small screen debut at the helm of Fox’s House.
The episode centered on a questionable member of the U.S. army, likened to Wikileaks informant Bradley Manning. The storyline fit nicely with Higgins’ background, as his short film was set in Iraq and focused on current events.
So how did Higgins go from an AFI collegiate award winner to House director in only one year? At the 2012 awards ceremony, held on Saturday at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood, Higgins told The Hollywood Reporter that the two aren’t directly correlated.
“It’s not that this award got me the episode of House, it’s very important to make that clear,” he said, though it was at the ceremony that he caught the eye of director Greg Yaitanes. “He invited me to shadow him and he became my mentor over the course of many months.”
After actively pursuing shadowing opportunities with Yaitanes, Higgins became a regular on the set, attending set visits one to two times each week to soak in as much real-life education as possible.
“He was very diligent about finding out what sort of director I was,” Higgins said of his mentor. “I need to show up constantly and do my work and really put in the time and learn from him… Besides whatever he may have liked about my film, he saw that I was dedicated to being there.”
The hard work paid off, and Higgins was able to watch his work unfold on national television when his episode aired on Monday night.
“Watching the show last night brought back so many great memories from the shoot,” Higgins told THR on Tuesday. “All the care and attention, all the hard work from so many people that went into every detail. It was a surprisingly emotional experience to see the final product. House is truly a special show, a labor of love for everyone involved. I was honored to be a part of it.”
One of the most rewarding aspects of the entire experience was being given the opportunity to work with top-notch actors, including Hugh Laurie and Omar Epps.
“I learned a lot by working with Hugh. He is such a professional and he comes with so much work already done on the script,” Higgins said. “The episode that I did was 170 of House, and he’s still approaching it as if it’s the second or third episode. So that put the onus on me to do my homework and really be on top of things.”
“It was incredibly intimating to work with an actor who takes his work that seriously,” he added. “And I feel like I became a better director because of him.”
Higgins is currently repped by ICM and tells THR that he has “3.5 feature projects in development.” His short film Thief went on to win the gold medal at the Student Academy Awards in 2011 and was shown at the AFI showcase, where Higgins first caught the eye of his agency, earlier that year.
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