How Kate Herron Went From Short Films to ‘Loki’ Director

Though Marvel has a solid track record of spotting early talent, Kate Herron admits that her selection to direct and EP the first season of “Loki” surprised even her. “I knew I was a wild card,” says Herron. “I knew I wasn’t going to be the most experienced person in the room, but I could be the most passionate. I got my agents to call them every day until Marvel was finally like, ‘Fine, bring her in.’ I just tried to give them a big download of my brain and hoped they would be into it. And they were, and I’m forever grateful to them, because it has changed my life.”

In addition to her passion, what Herron had going for her was an impressive group of short films that showed her unique style and voice. The films, which did well on the festival circuit, helped her secure her first TV directing gigs, for Netflix’s “Sex Education” and “Daybreak” which led her to “Loki.” They also offered early encouragement when Herron was working as a temp for seven years. And several of them are available online for people to watch, including the three below, which offer a window into that brain that made Herron such a perfect fit for her current job.

“Open House” 

Herron comes from an improv background, which she says continues to inform her art to this day. “It taught me so much about directing and working with people and life philosophy as well,” she says. “It taught me how valuable it is to say ‘yes.’ It’s in the core of my being.”

“Open House” was made as part of a 48-hour film challenge called “Smoke and Mirrors” in 2011; she and her collaborators Luke Wicker and Wilf Eddings were given prompts with which to build a story the cast improvised around. The result showcases Herron’s skill for creativity and unexpected humor. The film also stars Briony Redman, who went on to become Herron’s writing partner – they’ve been writing together for 11 years.

“Rest Stop” 

Herron’s 2014 short also plays with time travel and shows how gripping a scene with two people sitting at a table talking can be … but to give anymore away would spoil the fun.

Herron recalls “Rest Stop” winning a top prize at the Rhode Island International Film Festival and finding out on the train ride home. “I was working as a medical secretary,” she notes. “And it was the encouragement I needed to keep going.” In fact, Herron says she was temping for around seven years – up until she landed the “Sex Education” job. “I’ve done every job you can think of,” notes Herron. “I was a waitress. I worked at a fire extinguisher company. I used to wash cars. I’ve worked in so many labs and offices. Obviously, I took these office experiences and incorporated them into the TVA on ‘Loki.’”

“Smear” 

Perhaps no film better is a better calling card for Herron’s varied talents than this 2017 horror-comedy that stars none other than Sophia Di Martino, who would go on to play Sylvie in “Loki.” It shows Herron’s skill with special effects, action sequences and even features some office drones who dress alike in drab tones … all factors that would serve her well on “Loki.”

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