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EDUCATION What directors do – and don't do by David Crossman DGGB, Directors UK P iers Haggard – the BAFTA award-winning Director for his BBC TV work - says you can't teach Directing any more than you can teach Art. Piers may be right but I believe there are some directorial skills which can be passed on. Like many crew members and actors I have suffered at the hands of inexperienced Directors who believe they have to know every technicality and proceed to tell everyone what to do in the finest detail they can muster. As you might expect such shoots tend to proceed slowly and people start looking at their watches around 1200 sensing they might be at the location until midnight. I don't find this surprising since unlike camera, sound and lighting courses Directing is rarely taught, seemingly expected to be intuitive – especially if the individual has written the script. I'm not a writer but in my professional career I've Directed everything from 'soaps' in Australia and Malaysia to Light Entertainment and Comedy at The London Studios – the same wonderfully-designed studio used by Graham Norton. I've worked with big stars like Lulu, Cannon & Ball and Metal Mickey and the large casts of characters you get in a 5-nights a week, half-hour 'drama series' as broadcasters like to call them. As you might sense much of what I've been employed to direct has been multi-camera production. I enjoy this form of production because of the need to rehearse before a shoot – in this respect the beginning of the process is much like theatre. Working with actors and other artists before the time pressures of shooting is a wonderful collaborative experience where ideas from both me and the cast get bounced around and we come up with something better. Rehearsal also means performers are more focussed because they have been allowed some creative input into the production – they are more authoritative on screen which benefits them and their effectiveness in communicating with the audience. I see my role on a production as respecting all the skills that individuals bring to a production – whether in performance or in all those other wonderful craft skills like cinematography, sound recording, lighting, set dressing, wardrobe and make-up. Would you believe I have no skills in make-up? Would you believe I have little knowledge of the architecture and what people wore in the 1950s? My job is Director - not Dictator. If my show has been properly “cast” with the best skills in acting and the technical crafts my responsibility is to allow all these creative souls – yes, I've never met any technician who didn't want to apply his or her technical knowledge in a creative way – to have the time to do a good job. Despite the fact I understand and teach photography and lighting I want to work with people who are even more able in these Arts. As Director I don't have time to worry about the camera exposure or the recorded sound levels since I have other responsibilities – like finishing on time and ensuring the audience understands the story as it unfolds. Yes, I have responsibilities to the Producer and the Audience. Someone has to consider the Audience because, ultimately, they pay all our wages. It is the Audience I'm trying to satisfy – to deliver understanding, humour and all those other aspects of humanity that give us pleasure and we want to watch and capture for posterity. With today's technical advances we are overwhelmed with the choice of the most fantastic kit – Microphones without acoustic “colouration”, LED lighting which delivers heat-free illumination at your chosen colour temperature and Cameras which can deliver hugely defined images which often surpass the eye in sensitivity to certain colours. Having lived through decades of trying to coax early colour cameras to produce good pictures things are now very easy – cameras 42 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 92 AUGUST 2014 TV-BAY092AUG14.indd 42 08/08/2014 15:28