Considering his role guiding the story development of so many directors’ productions, Neil McDonald is amazingly friendly, calm and informative.
Neil’s interview is about storytelling, but touches on the role and responsibilities of the director, too. I wanted to find out how a story is guided through its life – from concept to post-production.
The story itself is the most important entity of any creative endeavour, but there are many ways it can be produced and so Neil touches on a number of factors the filmmaker should consider during the life of his project.
He’s been doing this for years, and has a long history in broadcasting and TV…that’s why he gets the IADF Heavyweight stamp (that means he’s influential, has a high profile, has many years of experience in his field and has clout, NOT that he weighs a lot. This is going to get me into hot water at some point in the future, I just know it!).
Pitching Ideas to Commissioners
Don’t forget, Neil’s not the commissioner. He’s the man who takes the ideas from his development team to the commissioners for the various BBC TV channels. He has to persuade them that the ideas he presents are of interest to an audience, are relevant, powerful, compelling etc.
Tips for Strengthening a Story
Some of the ways Neil mentions to ensure a story has the greatest chance of seeing the light of day (on our TV screens) are mentioned in the list below. It’s an off-the-cuff list, but contains real insight from someone who knows the game of getting stories made.
One of Neil’s team, Andy Twaddle, is a TV director based in Aberdeen, Scotland. He gave IADF an hour-long interview about making TV features recently and that’ll be published on the site soon. He talks about the relationship between the director and his exec (in this case, Neil). It’s fascinating stuff.
BBC Scotland HQ in Glasgow
Neil is based at the BBC’s biggest production base in Scotland – that’s at Pacific Quay in Glasgow. See the pic below. The building’s huge, and since about 2006 has replaced the old buildings at Queen Margaret Drive in the West End of the city.
Links for today’s IADF podcast