(Meutheun Drama, 256 pages, $29.95)
By Nick Bamford
Nick Bamford is a 30-year veteran television director in the U.K. and a professor of TV Production at Bournemouth University. It is therefore not surprising that Bamford’s Directing Television: A Professional Survival Guide is a straightforward, no-nonsense, hands-on textbook which applies as much in the U.S. as the U.K. It’s only real flaw is that is isn’t small enough to fit in the back pocket of new television directors. The fact that it is written by a working television director for working television directors is evident in its highly practical approach to on-set success and creative satisfaction.
Divided into three sections, Bamford breaks down preproduction, the shoot, and postproduction in intricate detail. As expected from an instructor, the book contains invaluable diagrams and examples of everyday directorial duties in the form of storyboards, camera scripts, call sheets, risk assessment forms; even screen grammar, which Bamford adamantly believes is essential. “I would advise any new director to gain a thorough grasp of screen grammar. Follow the rules until you know what you are doing; then break them if you will, but break them from a position of knowledge. Not ignorance.”
Perhaps the most valuable insights are Bamford’s Q&As with crew members from all the departments on a production team. Bamford asks producers what they find the most and least helpful in a working relationship with a director, asks editors what directors need to know about the latest in cutting-edge editing technique, not to mention conversations with DPs and writers in an effort to clearly define the director’s role as well as the inner-workings of the collaborative process.
But Directing Television is far from cold or academic. Bamford loves being a TV director, and constantly reiterates the importance for one to possess the sort of energy and vitality that drives production forward. Bamford lives for the adrenaline rush and the endless possibilities on a set, which is why, above all, he wants to help new directors be as well informed and prepared as possible.