Live television deadlines are non-negotiable; not delivering elements to air on time is like striking out in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded in Game 7 of the World Series. But don’t tell any of that to associate director Rob Naylor or to his creative partners at The View.
“I joined the DGA as a control room PA at Lifetime Television and was fortunate enough to meet [director] Mark Gentile there, who brought me with him when he went to direct The View,” Naylor explains. “I started out as a tape AD where I learned editing skills, and then moved up to the control room. After seven years on the show, I felt my skills as a filmmaker were becoming stagnant,” says Naylor, who had studied film production and made many shorts. “So I came to the producers with a creative proposal that required a big leap of faith.”
That leap required moving back down to the tape room where he would AD, produce, and edit The View’s “open,” the all-important 90-second lead-in, which the show’s sponsors have deemed essential to keeping viewers on board for the entire hour.
“Instead of using up the resources of the control room—technical director, graphics, PA, etc.,” Naylor continues, “I proposed purchasing an Avid system, and packaging all the elements myself. This would allow the director to utilize all the resources that would otherwise not be available to him prior to the live show.”
Naylor describes the open as a “billboard” announcing each morning’s hot topics that might be discussed on the show, including anything from American Idol to Tiger Woods to Obama’s health care plan. It requires staying on top of current events and plenty of research and preparation. “I learn about the hot topics an hour before the open has to be packaged and then the director and producer will look at the edit and ask for changes. The director might ask, ‘Why aren’t we talking about the Super Bowl?’ at which point I have to re-record a voice-over with the announcer in the booth.”
Naylor says it was critical to him that his expanded role would still fall under the DGA’s associate director classification, and The View’s producers agreed. “The people here are really forward-thinking,” he says.
As for more traditional AD work in the control room for live daytime television, Naylor says the job has two major components: “We have to coordinate with the network for going in and out of commercials, and package the show,” he says. “Most directors will be in the control room before the show, packaging it with in and out bumpers. Sound up, graphics on, and ‘Tom Cruise will be coming up next….’”
In other words, there is never a dull moment on live TV, which perfectly suits Naylor. “ADs work at an extremely high rate of speed to get a nationally broadcast show on and off the air, and we get a huge adrenaline rush from it. I love the intensity and the camaraderie that comes from working in that kind of pressure cooker.”