Musicality has always been a key part of Sandra Restrepo Considine’s work as an associate director; a 20-year career that has touched every genre of live television— from variety, comedy, concerts, awards shows to the Olympics and even the Super Bowl.
“Being able to read music has been great in my work for PBS’ Great Performances,” explains the three-time Emmy award winner. “Directors often number shots [within the musical score], so for instrumentals, where there are no bar counts or singers, I know exactly where we are at all times, rather than relying on a score reader.”
A musical background also helped for a live U2 concert she did for VH1, where lead singer Bono suggested they ride to the venue together to figure out how to time his entrance musically.
“He wanted to enter through the house and reach the stage by the chorus of ‘Beautiful Day.’ So, it’s Bono and me, alone in a taxi. The doors shut and he joked, ‘Should we take the car and go to McDonald’s?’” At the theater, “he started singing as I followed him through the house and onstage. I got a lot of ribbing from the camera guys because they know I’m half-Irish and adore U2.”
Restrepo Considine says the Super Bowl halftime show is on every AD’s bucket list. She describes Madonna’s 2012 performance, at the time the most-watched in the event’s history with 114 million viewers, as the longest and shortest 12 minutes of her life.
“That last commercial [before halftime] is the point of no return,” she recalls. “It’s where the weeks of rehearsal on the field, choreographing coverage with the cameras, and in the truck all pays off.” She’s worked with many major directors, but one recent day, with longtime director collaborator Glenn Weiss, was “crazy,” even by live TV’s frenetic standards.
“We began with a technical production meeting for the AMAs [American Music Awards] at the Nokia Theatre, drove across town to Beverly Hills to the Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] to talk about our coverage for the Governors Ball for the Oscar telecast, then we practically ran down the runway to catch a plane to Las Vegas to prep for an upcoming CBS broadcast of a Garth Brooks concert.
“My goal as an AD is always to free up directors, so they can concentrate on telling the story with the cameras and not be staring into the script worried about where we’re going,” she concludes. “I recently coordinated cameras for Billy Crystal’s Tony-winning show [700 Sundays, produced by HBO]. That was a career highlight for me in live TV comedy.”
Restrepo Considine, who has already directed episodes of the live standup comedy series Brand X with Russell Brand, says there is only one woman (Beth McCarthy-Miller) who is currently directing in the live musical variety and awards arena, but she hopes to one day make that leap.
“I have a huge passion for live television,” she concludes. “It’s a goal of mine to get to direct the kind of shows that I’m an AD on. There needs to be more women directing live musical, variety and award shows, and I would love to be one of them.”