Who is Orlando von Einsiedel, the daredevil director of Archewell’s first Netflix documentaries?
When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex started their media company Archewell late last year, they promised to “build a better world”. So it’s no wonder that the award-winning director they chose for their first film project is someone who, like them, has made no secret of the extent of their ambitions.
Orlando von Einsiedel, the 40-year-old British director, has made tough short films under the umbrella of his production company Grain Media over the past decade, plunging himself into some of the most dangerous political situations in the world.
There was Hot Chocolate in 2010, which examined how the chocolate trade exacerbated the conflict in Ivory Coast. 2011’s Skateistan: Living and Skating in Kabul, following a charity that used skateboarding to empower girls at a skate park in Kabul; 2014 Virunga, who tells the story of the park rangers of the Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; 2017 The White Helmets, a devastating depiction of a group of volunteers from the Syrian Civil Protection Force searching for survivors amid the rubble of Aleppo and for whom he spent five weeks in a training camp on the Turkish border; and 2020’s Lost and Found, which was filmed in a Rohingya refugee camp.
Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter in 2020, von Einsiedel stated that his move from television to documentary film in 2010 (he had previously worked on a popular extreme sports show in Gen-X magazine format) was motivated by a desire to make films “the the world could change. “Thinking small never seems to have been his problem.
However, becoming the Hollywood face of a royal prince’s media company wasn’t the obvious route for a man starting his career in the laid-back world of professional snowboarding. He spent his teenage years on the arid slopes of east London (“I would get off the tube on my snowboard and local kids would throw stones at me,” he told the Evening Standard) and traveled the world – from India to Thailand, to Brazil, to the USA – to compete.