• Expert advice: How to direct television by top TV directors

    Directing hot TV shows might seem a million miles away from you right now but Mandy News can help.

    25th Oct 2017By Andrew Wooding

    Thanks to incredible chats with seasoned television directors Harry Bradbeer (Fleabag, Dickensian), Diana Patrick (Coronation Street, Emmerdale) and David Barrett (Blue Bloods, Arrow, The Mentalist), we lift the lid on what it takes to step up to the TV directing plate.

    The Script

    "Choose scripts that you care about and you believe in, which trigger an emotional response in you and that will translate to others. Cinema is an emotional experience. If you write, write scripts with characters that will attract great actors. Because in the end, the actor is the first storyteller. Follow your voice but do try to take smart people with you."

    Harry Bradbeer (Fleabag, Killing Eve director).

    Cast well and let actors give you ideas first

    "When you cast, because, it just stands or falls by who is playing what."

    Diana Patrick (Emmerdale, Coronation Street director).

    "I try not to get in the way of the actors too much. When they come onto the set, I will try to give them room. I want to see what their first instincts are. You may go into a scene thinking “it’s going to be like this”, then the actor does something extraordinary and you rethink it entirely. Robert Altman described his job as “capturing behaviour", that's exactly the way I see it. You must keep yourself loose, prepare and be ready for the magic, which usually comes from the actor."

    Harry Bradbeer (Fleabag, Killing Eve director).

    Expect problems

    "What I think we tend to do on series as directors, because most of us are pretty experienced, we’re able to read quite fast how the day is going. How do we work with that? How do we schedule it? How do we reschedule it? What do we do?

    "Then there’s thunderstorm, so you have to deal with that. Do we have him wear a coat? No, no, don’t. Now the car’s broken down because it’s an old car, it’s a vintage car, what do we do? We change the scene. Days like that that happen so often. To be honest with you, filming is so much about sorting very practical problems on an hourly basis. It really, really is. If it all goes according to our planned shotlist, it would be very surprising. It truly would."

    Diana Patrick (Emmerdale, Coronation Street director).

    Manage your time well

    "On your shooting day, it's a lot about time management. You have to know which scenes to spend most time on. For example, I've shot a page scene in 6 hours and another page scene in 20 minutes. Directors must care for the details, so set your priorities."

    Harry Bradbeer (Fleabag, Killing Eve director).

    Stay true to your vision

    "Shoot whatever you imagine and do not let anybody get in the way of your original vision. The truer you can stay to it, the more original you are. Honour your vision."

    David Barrett (Blue Bloods, Arrow, The Mentalist).

    Confidence

    "Basically, you’ve got to have confidence. If that means acting confident, then that’s fine. You get onto the set, with a lot of well known actors from a series, and you’re new to it, and perhaps you’re not feeling it or you didn’t sleep the night before and it’s a bit terrifying. It’s just remembering your talents, remembering that you have every right to be there and that all those actors will be on your side, really."

    Diana Patrick (Emmerdale, Coronation Street director).

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