Channel 4's Faking It: How to become a live TV director
Want to become a live TV studio director? Then I urge you to head over to 4oD now and watch an episode of Channel 4’s sublime Faking It, featuring a telephone operator learning the tricks of the trade.
In the episode from 2004, 28 year old Lynn Hurst, an operator for the Edinburgh fire service, was taken out of her comfort zone and thrown into the lions’ den, having just four weeks to convince a panel of industry pros that she was a live studio director. Along with three actual directors, she had to prove she wasn’t the fake while directing a live episode of the breakfast show RI:SE.
Teaching her their industry expertise were mentors Conor McAnally and Hamish Hamilton - both established directors of live telly. She was put through her paces before the final test, from having a crack at directing a music video to calling the shots on SMTV Live.
The episode clarified two things: that you need big cojones to be a live TV director, and that it’s an animal - as McAnally aptly put it: “Live TV is a wild beast and it will tear your leg off unless you’re on top of it.”
Here are five skills we learnt you need have to be a live TV director after watching the episode:
Confidence - There’s no room for shrinking violets in live TV directing as this episode clearly showed. You have to have confidence. If the crew gets one sniff that you don’t know your two-shots from your teleprompters, you’re in for it, and respect from your team will go down the toilet.
A commanding voice - Hurst’s faint voice trembled from the get-go, failing to get the crew to listen to her. As a live director, you need to command in a clear, authoritative voice, and if necessary, shout – or if you’re Hamish Hamilton, put your script away and be psychically animated in the gallery.
Foresight - As the director of Channel 4 News stressed, you have to think ahead – especially with live TV. If you don’t know what’s happening next and you’re simply directing in the moment, things will start to crumble. After all, live TV is a beast and it will bite.
Passion - McAnally and Hamilton both loved their job – Hamilton’s face lit up every time he talked about directing. The passion was there. He wanted to show Hurst why he did this is for a living – and when he was dancing while he directed U2 in concert, you could clearly see why. If you don’t have the passion for it, do something else for a living.
Don’t confuse your on-screen talent - The telephone operator from Edinburgh made one of the biggest mistakes of live TV – flustering a presenter by speaking via their earpiece at the wrong moment. The cheesed-off individual in this instance was SMTV’s Tess Daly. Not only was Daly pretty peeved, the instructions from Hurst stopped her in her tracks live on air – a major no-no.
To watch the episode, head over to 4oD via this link
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