How to make it as a TV director with Fiona Scott
Safeera Sarjoo

How to make it as a TV director with Fiona Scott

Fiona Scott TV Director Interview

First published date August 01 2016 Amended date August 01 2016

How often do you think about people behind the production of a film, TV series or news programme?

The truth is, a lot of planning, creativity and perseverance goes in to every project a director and producer lends their hand to.

Though I’ve had some exposure to this line of work, I’ve always been keen to speak to someone actually working within the field to share their secrets and learn about their journey into directing and producing professionally.

Enter Fiona Scott. Her career in journalism led her in to regional television where she worked at ITV Westcountry for 13 years and made hundreds of television programmes.

Though she’s no longer with ITV she still works as a journalist and TV director, keen to tell stories with the same passion she had the very first time she stepped into this industry. Aware that she was set to take some much needed time off for the summer, I was delighted to see her answers to my questions in my inbox.

Tell us about how you first got into producing and directing.

I worked for five years on a local newspaper but always wanted to work in regional television so I did work experience shifts for two of those five years to get to know people and then I applied for various contracts. I was successful on the second contract. 

How did your educational choices help to prepare you for this line of work?

It was a long time ago but my choice of straight subjects like English Literature helped with writing skills and History helped with research skills. The skill of dealing with people came from having a part-time job throughout my further and higher education and the skill of living away from home. 

How does directing and producing for TV differ to film?

I've not worked in film so it's hard to say for sure. I suspect television is quicker, as budgets would not allow many days of overrun on filming, there would be less green screen and less people to manage. 

I read that your grandfather said that the only way for the family to move forward was through education. Do you still believe in this ethos and how significant is education in the wider world?

I do believe this for families on lower income - it is still true that money brings greater opportunity in very practical ways. Families which have more money, more access to a car for example can access more activities. You do need much more drive to overcome these practical issues in order to access opportunities. 

What makes a well directed film?

A fantastic team with a clear production, direction and vision.

Do you find that your style of directing and producing is flexible or do you use a signature style?

Both - you do have to be flexible especially on location but you do tend to have subjects which interest you most and that will always show through. 

Have you had to work with difficult actors and if so, how do you handle them?

It would be presenters in my case. You handle carefully with respect - but sometimes you have to be firm and assertive. The aim is the best project possible it's never about a single person.

What are some misconceptions people have about directing and producing?

It's glamorous and well paid. It's very hard work, long hours, and lots of waiting around, strong memory, very visual and great fun.

What’s been your biggest challenge and your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement is still being part of the media for almost 30 years. I would say that my biggest challenge is being noticed at the age of 50.

What are the first steps you would advise people looking to get into this line of work?

Perseverance - Woody Allen said 80 per cent of success is turning up. 

Safeera Sarjoo

Safeera is Editor of Whatuni and a journalist from Kingston University. Always the inquisitive, her writing spans across a number of areas such as sustainability, fashion, lifestyle and now education. Her belief that you never stop learning and passionate nature has taken her to New York City as part of her degree and across the airwaves on national radio talking about the issues that matter to her.