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October 2017
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  • The Facilities 50
    Jon Creamer launches Televisual's 30th exclusive annual Facilities 50 survey featuring the top post production houses in the UK and 52 pages of analysis of the sector
  • Interview: Grant Mansfield
    Hiring top talent and investing heavily in development have been key to growing his Bristol indie Plimsoll Productions, says founder Grant Mansfield
  • The clear view: lenses
    What ever genre you work in, you need to be lens savvy. Here three DoPs guide us through the lens market, picking out the models they like to use in drama and factual
  • Over the top
    The growth of Netflix and Amazon is proving a boon for UK indies, but broadcasters are starting to panic. Tim Dams reports
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  • Blue Planet II
    The producers of Blue Planet II tell Tim Dams how tech advances and military planning helped them capture the secrets of the deep
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The Art Of Studio Direction Back to Reports & survey Listing




Early stages


My first involvement with a project usually comes in the early planning stages, at a meeting with the executive and series producers of the show. This gives them a chance to outline their creative brief for the show and for me to ask questions about the project. It’s important in these early stages to establish the style and tone the editorial team are looking for, as this will likely affect the choices you have to make technically further down the line.

 Sometimes you come to a project before any design briefs have been sent out, so you can be involved with developing the overall look. But more frequently these days, the set and lighting designs may already be in place and it becomes more about working with key departments to bring the show to life. Develop a good relationship with your line manager in the early days, because invariably all ideas come down to money.   
 
Work with the best
I adore my crew and I’m lucky enough to work with the best in the business. It’s so important to build close working relationships with your team because they get to know your style and preferences and can preempt some key decisions. You spend long hours together, working in high pressure environments, sometimes far from home, so it’s really important to get along.

That’s why I’m always really keen to choose my key crew members; camera supervisor, vision mixer, script supervisor, lighting designer and floor manager in particular. I would say that while they’re all critical roles, the first call I usually make on a job is to my camera supervisor. I’m fortunate enough to work with some incredibly creative supervisors but special mention should go to the talented Nat Hill. We’ve worked together since T4 was hosted by Dermot and Margherita, live from C4 HQ at Horseferry Road and we’re still at it on series four of The Voice at Dock10, MediaCity.  

An eye for detail, a sense of humour and good communication are essential skills for a studio director. Your voice can be heard by everyone via production talkback, so it’s important to be clear who you’re communicating with and what the message is. The tone of your voice will set the mood of the crew, so it’s important to remain calm but enthusiastic, to keep energy levels up. I always have a team meeting with the crew on the morning of the show, to give everyone an overall sense of what the producers want editorially.
 
Coping with stress
Rescue Remedy (thank you Nikki Parsons) is one little tip I can pass on, but in all honesty, if you’ve been thorough in your planning and you’re well rehearsed, then it’s not stress that you feel, it’s just pure adrenaline. And I’m sure, secretly, that’s the reason we all do it.

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