Start, check, and team up: experience from a BBC1 success

Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti

What can I do to become a director?

The Harrow Conversations are back and Chris Clough, The Missing’s producer, has been the first guest of 2015.

“If it is your passion, just stick to it and go for it”, was one of the last advice Chris Clough gave to the University of Westminster’s students during the lunchtime meeting.

Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
As the film industry has changed a lot during these years, everybody can make a movie today. A smartphone is all you need. Therefore, such a career is more ambitious than it was before.
“[This sector] doesn’t need much money - Mr Clough said. - It is the quality of ideas” what really matters.

Among other suggestions for the young generations eager to start directing, the freelance series producer advised to team up, “do not do stuff on your own”, because using your own strength would not be enough for a good film.

Moreover, he recommended to have a practical mind-set – for this reason, he repeated to just go and direct on the move, “No job is too low to start and you need to get your hands dirty”, as he said – and, most importantly, do not put off. The more you get practice, the more you get perfect and ready for more challenging projects.

Chris Clough started his career as a freelance director with Brookside, a soap opera. As he said, many of his early works were studio based.
The Missing has been the biggest production he has had until now.
Regarding future plans, in 2016 he would shoot the second series.

The Missing, among fixed scripts and fixed working hours

Since the 28th of October, eight episodes were broadcast on BBC1.
The first episode got 6.28 million of UK viewers.
Nevertheless, the series reached the peak during the last night, with 8.36 million, becoming the third most viewed programme on the channel that week.

Oliver Hughes is a boy missing in France, during a family holiday in 2006. The series, however, moves also in 2014, the present, where the father, Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) is still searching for his son. The ceaseless and persistent investigation led to the end of the relationship between Mr Hughes and as Emily Hughes (Frances O'Connor), now remarried with the detective Mark Walsh.
Photo Credit: The BBC
From Wikipedia - The Missing 
Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo), a retired French detective who was in charge of the case, but still not convinced of the death of the boy, plays another important role.

“It was not all about people weeping”, said Chris Clough. “It’s the impact of the story on everyone.” That was the real meaning of the TV episodes.
Actually, the series followed the reactions of its characters, and the time shift allowed analysing how these changes developed over the years.

In particular, the producer spoke about the refusal of a colour wash to make the effects of the time. The choice to set the past in summer, while the present in winter, helped in terms of editing and for the high-quality final result.

However, “the scripts were all written in advance, which is quite a rarity in English series”, Chris Clough said. But it was necessary, as they were shooting like a unique bulk: the 2014 first, in February, and the 2006 second. Therefore, no change in the meanwhile where admitted.

They shot mostly in Brussels, with Belgian crew that, as Mr Clough told us, had something like a fixed time which could not be negotiated.
Consequently, when they went for 10 extra minutes over the working hours, they were a sort of grumpy.

Regular checks and legitimate claims

Tom Shankland, the director, prepared nearly everything well in advance. Every week, however, he sent emails to call a meeting and re-check all the material before the start of a new shooting week.
He always kept an eye on how everything was going on (the actors, the crew, the producer).

For what regards the editing, they went through the footages at the end of each day.

“Claim to be on time”, Chris Clough said as one last advice related to team working.
When part of a group, everything seems to go in the right direction when all the gears fit together, like a perfect engine.

However, they have to move at the same pace. If not, the car will simply be stuck in one place.