Mick Jackson


Many directors like to work predominantly in a single genre – be it comedy, thrillers, procedurals, whatever. They know the ground intimately and make themselves the masters of it. I have always believed that stepping into unknown territory, though it can be perilous – is often in itself a powerful spur to personal creativity. So I have deliberately tried to make each project present a different challenge - something that I haven't myself ever attempted before, either in genre or subject matter.

In my youth, I took degrees in both Science and Drama, and found that being able to straddle two cultures at once was actually an asset. I joined the BBC in London in 1966 in the Science Features Department. There, I worked on some of the iconic and wide-ranging documentary series of the early 1970's (The Ascent of Man, Connections, The Age of Uncertainty). These were ambitious multi-part films, well-funded and shot in locations and situations throughout the world, from the Lapplanders and their reindeer to the teeming slums of Calcutta. The scope and breadth of these projects exposed me to the infinite variety of the world and to humanity in all its manifestations. From here it seemed natural to move into the emotional intensity of fully-dramatized television films. As it happened, three of these won BAFTA and other international awards in quick succession (Threads, Race for the Double Helix and A Very British Coup) - which got me name-recognition in the US and offers of work here.

In the US, I have made a number of features, with varying degrees of success (The Bodyguard, L.A. Story, Volcano) but found, again, great creative and emotional satisfaction in moving between diverse platforms and genres, mixing romantic musical thrillers with comedies and action movies, and alternating theatrical features with television work. In TV, I've found directing pilots very satisfying (Numb3rs, The Practice, That's Life) and particularly love TV Movies, which often venture, with their subject matter, into unusual and unpromising territory - like autism, child abuse, Down's Syndrome and mortality (Temple Grandin, The McMartin Trial, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Tuesdays with Morrie) – areaswhich theatrical films often ignore as too risky. In terms of personal motivation, I find the difficulties and real risks of failure are not a deterrent but actually an inspiration to succeed and find emotional truth there. In a way, I think that sheer terror and uncertain outcome is an often under-rated generator of bold creative ideas. Indeed, my maxim has been to embrace it and, to quote Sondheim, "never do anything twice".


Features: Denial(BAFTA nom); The Bodyguard (MTV Movie Award, Rembrandt Award); L.A.Story; Volcano; Chattahoochee; Clean Slate; The First 20 Million. TV Movies: Temple Grandin (DGA Award, Emmy Award, AFI Best of 2010, Peabody Award, Amade Prize Monte Carlo Film Fest); The Memory Keeper's Daughter (Emmy Nom); Live From Baghdad (DGA Award, Emmy nom, Golden Globe nom); Tuesdays With Morrie (DGA Award, Humanitas Prize); Indictment: The McMartin Trial (DGA Award, Emmy nom, Golden Globe Award); The Race for the Double Helix (BAFTA Award, Grand Prize Locarno Film Fest, Gold Medal New York Film Fest, Cable Ace Award, Glaxo Writers Fellowship)); Threads (BAFTA Award, Prince Rainier Prize Monte Carlo Film Fest, Blue Ribbon Award American Film Fest); Yuri Nosenko – KGB (Cable Ace nom); Sakharov: People from the Forest.    TV Mini-series:The Hades Factor: Covert One; A Very British Coup (International Emmy for Drama, BAFTA Award, Best of Festival, Banff Film Fest). Major Documentary Series: The Ascent of Man ( Emmy nom, BAFTA nom, Peabody Award, Ohio State Award); Connections (Red Ribbon Award American Film Fest ); The Age of Uncertainty(Ohio State Award); A Guide to Armageddon (Prix Futura Berlin Film Fest, British Association Film Award). TV Pilots: Numb3rs,  The Practice, In Justice, The Handler, That's Life, Strange World, Demons, Traffic.

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Visual History
Mick Jackson Interview
Visual History Interview
Mick Jackson reflects on his career as a feature film and television director including his early work for the BBC, and his work in Hollywood on the feature films L.A. Story (1991) and The Bodyguard (1992), as well as movies for television such as Temple Grandin (2010).