Devon and Cornwall welcomed students from across the region to its annual “Breaking into Media” event, which featured a fascinating insight into TV directing from Toby Haynes.
The event, which was held at the Theatre Royal Plymouth’s riverside rehearsal venue, TR2, in mid-November, also offered students advice on working in TV from a heavyweight panel of industry experts.
In a session chaired by Devon and Cornwall Centre Chair Kingsley Marshall, Haynes – who got his break on Channel 4 youth soap Hollyoaks – charted his own journey from his student film, Nam, to directing big-budget TV dramas.
Haynes recalled how he imagined palm trees “bursting into flames” to make his own Vietnam war film in a local park while studying at Falmouth University.
Since then, Haynes has worked on BBC One dramas Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Doctor Who, The Musketeers, Wallander, as well as the audacious finale to the second series of Sherlock, The Reichenbach Fall. He explained the role of director as that of having to “catch the smoke”, talking the audience through the methods he uses to visualise scripts, and generate ideas and illustrate them to the crew.
Haynes also discussed the “little things” that had assisted him along the way, including the young and hungry agent who helped him secure his first directing job, and the mantras he uses in interviews.
But in an industry as competitive as television, there is no one answer or clear line of action that will ensure success, explained Haynes.
Adrian Emerson, who has worked for more than 25 years in multimedia production, chaired the “Getting in and getting on” panel, which consisted of Rick Horne, head of post-production at Twofour; BBC journalist Jenny Kumah; Will Jenkins and Ben Hancock from the Plymouth Film Festival; and Phillippa Giles, founder of Bandit Television, which recently shot Sky One drama Delicious in Cornwall.
Persistence is key in a fast-moving industry environment, said Simon Walton, creative director of Silverstream TV, who observed that the jobs students will end up doing “might not even be invented yet.”
Photos by Kenneth J Cox