In part 1 of this series, we met music multi-camera Director, James Russell. In this post, we talk to multi-camera studio Director, Peter Demetris.
What are some of your biggest multi-camera directing achievements?
I’ve been a multi-camera director for many years (I started at just 22 years young) and have been fortunate to work on many wonderful productions. Recently I directed the Nickelodeon Skills Awards for two years running. Not so long ago I was a studio director on ITV’s Daybreak, and before that GMTV, and back in 2003 I directed the Sharon Osbourne Show for ITV daytime. In 2010, I directed Embarrassing Bodies Live, which won a BAFTA Craft Award. I was one of 4 key members of the production team.
Many of the biggest productions I directed were back in my former home of Australia where I was lucky to direct Australia’s most popular music show, Saturday Morning Live, and a nightly, high rating talk show, Tonight Live with Steve Vizard. However, my biggest achievement probably remains the Australian Music Awards, hosted by Pamela Anderson. It was a 14 camera live production with over 13 music performances and a similar number of awards. We had a remote studio in London for overseas winners (Kylie Minogue, Peter Andre, East 17 etc.) and it holds the rare accolade of commandeering just about every moving light in the country at the time!
What makes a good multi-camera director?
To be a good multi-camera director you should posses a thorough understanding of every aspect of studio production. That means being across lighting, staging, sound, cameras, graphics, vision mixing, wardrobe, make up, special effects and floor management. To be a great multi-camera director you need to have excellent leadership skills, be very organised, have good time management and most importantly get to know your crew, because without the team on your side you are going nowhere.
What’s the worse thing that’s happened whilst you’ve been directing a live multi-camera production?
The worst thing that happened to me while I was directing a live multi-camera production was back in 2003 on RI:SE, a breakfast programme for Channel 4. I had decided to stop using a big video wall as a back drop to the news, and instead turned the camera to face the glazed wall of the studio gallery with the monitor stack visible behind the presenter perched on the edge of a desk. I like to stand whilst directing and was acutely aware that I could be seen behind newsreader Zora Suleman so during the news made an effort to stand to one side and kept my movements to a minimum so as not to draw attention. One morning, during the Iraq war, we were planning to go live to a Sky correspondent who I was assured was ready and waiting for the item. At 8am, after a very busy opening sequence, I looked up and suddenly noticed that the reporter was smoking a cigarette and didn’t even have his ear piece in – just as the presenter was linking to him! Cue much waving of arms, pointing and quite a bit of shouting in the gallery to bring the programme back on track, as Zora apologised and calmly went on to the next item. The following morning the Telegraph published a review of RI:SE where they noticed the ‘dancing, pointing man’ behind the newsreader and declared it one of the better parts of the show. I was of course mortified, but the Executive Producer Henrietta Conrad loved it and said, “carry on doing what you do and don’t worry about being in the back of shot!”
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to become a multi-camera director?
Don’t be in a hurry. You have a lot to lose if you jump in at the deep end without gaining the necessary experience in all departments of studio work, and a lot more to gain by waiting until the time is right.
In the next post in this series, we talk to multi-camera director, Del Brown.