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Director’s Guild Does Not Consider All TV Directors Equal

The Australia’s Directors Guild is creating some drama by freaking out that a reality TV director has been nominated for a AACTA award for best direction in television category. In their eyes Directors are not all equal.

The Guild has asked for Michael Mackay’s, the Executive Producer of The Amazing Race Australia, nomination to be withdrawn and replaced with a director of drama.

Directing drama probably is a different skill set but is it more difficult or worthier?

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

It [Australia’s Directors Guild] strongly condemned “this disrespect of the drama director’s profession”.

“We were just amazed. We read it when the nominations came out and thought it was a mistake,” the executive director of the Guild, Kingston Anderson, said. “To our surprise, it was deliberate. This is like comparing apples to oranges; it makes no sense.

“If AACTA wanted to honour directors in the reality or non-dramatic form, then they should have created a category for those directors.”

The chief executive officer of the Academy, Damian Trewhella, said the category was for all directors.

“I understand the ADG’s position and why they would like to restrict the award to drama directors,” he said. “Currently, we have just one award, which is called ‘best direction in television’, not ‘best direction in a television drama’.

“Therefore, productions across all categories – drama, comedy, light entertainment, reality and children’s – are eligible for the award.

“We acknowledge that there are significant distinctions between the role of the director on a drama and on a reality show, and that this does pose challenges when trying to assess them against each other. Perhaps this could be seen as a compromise, but we prefer to be inclusive, rather than exclusive, where possible.”

McKay, who is in Asia working on The Amazing Race Ukraine, won the best director award at the Asian Television Awards last year for the same episode of The Amazing Race Australia, and is “a little surprised by the ADG’s reaction because the industry seems to be recognising directors across the board and their work”.

“I respect that; they’re clearly saying it isn’t the exclusive domain of drama directors,” McKay said. “I’m surprised the ADG wants to limit the category only to directors who make movies or telemovies or drama. There’s a whole lot more. Maybe the ADG isn’t proud of those directors.

“I’m the guinea pig. Was I surprised to be nominated? Yes. I’m so honoured to be nominated and when it’s in this sort of category I get a bit embarrassed. To be in the category with those guys is very special. Early in my career I worked on drama and I know how hard that is, too.”

However, McKay does not think the nomination was a mistake.

“They want to honour directors full stop, not just drama directors. That’s a real step forward for these awards,” he said. “Some of those sports broadcasts are complicated. Same with the entertainment shows. Maybe next year whoever directs the AFL grand final – a massively complicated broadcast – will be in that category as well.”

Rather than expand the award, the Directors Guild wants to restrict it further, preventing light entertainment and comedy shows from qualifying.

“They shouldn’t be in it,” Anderson said. “If it’s going to be a director’s award, which is what it is, then they should all be directors. It’s like saying in the Olympics, ‘We’ll put a shot putter up against a swimmer’.

“If you’re going to say the director of The Amazing Race should be up against the director of Beaconsfield, well, then surely the people in The Amazing Race should be up for best actors? That’s the logic of that if they’re doing the same thing. Would [Academy board member] Sigrid Thornton like that?”

McKay rejected the comparison.

“I don’t direct the competitors; it’s more like a live sports event,” he said. “My job is to ensure that we’re getting the shots that we want. I conceived the opening arrivals and work with a great team of people to achieve and execute the plan. I do not direct the contestants once the race has started.”

If this is how the guild has reacted to a nomination, they will extremely peeved if the reality show director takes out the prize.

15 comments

1 Georgie { 12.07.12 at 9:41 am }

What a drama!

2 Peter { 12.07.12 at 11:24 am }

Most reality TV these days is very much ‘directed’ and it takes a very good reality director to tell a good story. It possibly requires a better director when it’s scripted word for word. But at the end of the day it all comes back to the script.. that’s where the real creativity comes from. Forget the directors.

3 Peter { 12.07.12 at 11:25 am }

A better director ‘than’ when it’s scripted…

4 Culinary Boner { 12.07.12 at 12:12 pm }

I know he’s not an Aussie, but can I nominate Lloyd Kramer for ‘Liz & Dick’? Yep, that scripted drama sure is a superior product to semi-staged reality stuff.
You’re 100% right Peter, it comes down to the script.
There are plenty of lame clichéd dramas out there and unfortunately an awful lot of them are Australian.

5 brain dead dave { 12.07.12 at 2:39 pm }

Sometimes the distinction between drama and comedy isn’t clear to the viewer. I mean Howzat purported to be drama but I ended up laughing at and with it.

Sounds like the “real” Directors are getting paranoid. Why would they be sweating knowing that those who directed The Shire for example are getting a look in…..unless they’re unsure of their own resources.

Like $hakespeare said – “the play’s the thing” -not the dang director.

For mine, Puberty Blues was great drama this year. Beaconsfield, on the other hand, made me want to bury myself.

6 daisy { 12.07.12 at 4:18 pm }

Ah Puberty Blues! I could smell the seventies: unwashed salty sufers, sea-salt in a fresh sea breeze, chico rolls, Mulboroughs or cheap Winfields, vinegar and cooking oil for a deep tan, MJ, Charlie or Gingham perfumes, stale beer in the pub carpet. Sweet stinky dried spunk on sheets. Hitch-hiking home at all hours (without getting mudered). Bugger! How come I have ailments now?
PS: not a word to the grandkids.

7 daisy { 12.07.12 at 4:35 pm }

Eating everything you wanted non-stop and still weighing less than 40kg. Not accidentally farting when you sat in a chair.

8 daisy { 12.07.12 at 4:37 pm }

Having your friends parents think you were a good girl, then going out being the opposite.

9 daisy { 12.07.12 at 4:40 pm }

Wearing your grandmother’s 40’s dresses and having your mother bugged because you didn’t wear a bra.
And I will only say one thing about the 50s and 60’s : riding your bikes to the shop or school and leaving them outside indefinitiely and them always still being there when you got back. How cool was that!

10 daisy { 12.07.12 at 4:48 pm }

Sorry for getting off track reminiscing.

11 brain dead dave { 12.07.12 at 4:59 pm }

You had me dreaming of $3.00 jugs of beer and nights getting blotto in a real pub watching Cold Chisel.

12 daisy { 12.07.12 at 5:06 pm }

30 or 40cents for Scotch and coke or vodka and orange (full cap).
No wonder we were sick at the end of the night.
Like when we went to the the Royal Show and a bag (not baggie) was 40c and a ride was 20c. We usually ended up spewing then too.

13 daisy { 12.07.12 at 5:12 pm }

Captain Matchbox, Duck soup, The Outlaws and dancing to AC/DC on a small dance floor at the WHite Sands within touching distance from the bandmembers and not thinking it was a big deal.

14 Izobel2 { 12.07.12 at 5:42 pm }

I was born in 75 so technically still a 70’s kid!
I thoroughly enjoyed Puberty Blues, my fave drama this year, apart from The Slap!
I liked the home decor in Puberty Blues, and could relate to the endless phone calls with Sue & Debbie, and just going out in the morning and not coming home til tea time.
It totally reminds me of my childhood, and my parents rockin parties!
I’m glad it’s coming on again next year.

15 daisy { 12.07.12 at 6:01 pm }

I know it’s a different genre and country but it seemed more realistic than the Seventies Show. By that I mean that they did a good job on hair, clothing, decor. Some of the clothes they wore in the Seventies SHow I thought you would have only worn if you were a dag, and they were supposed to be cool.