SP Networking with S.J. Clarkson & Charles Sturridge

Posted October 23rd, 2017 by Mark Ryan

Ever wanted to know what it’s like to direct a primetime television series in the UK or the US? 

On Tuesday 7th November, join Shooting People for an open discussion with director/writer S.J. Clarkson (Orange is the New Black, The Defenders, Dexter, House, Bates Motel) and director/writer Charles Sturridge (Strike (J.K. Rowling), Brideshead RevisitedDa Vinci’s Demons) about what it’s like to write / direct some of the most renowned international television shows.

S.J. Clarkson is perhaps best known for her direction of Bad Girls (1999), Mistresses (2013) and Toast (2010); a film adaptation of the biography of celebrity chef Nigel Slater. Clarkson first developed her storytelling talents by working several behind-the-scenes jobs in the theatre industry, before venturing into animation and eventually moving over to live action. She started out directing British TV Series, such as female prison drama Bad Girls (1999), Casualty (2003 – 2005), and Eastenders (2004), and subsequently the critically acclaimed Life on Mars (2006 – 2007) before guest directing two episodes of Heroes (2009 – 2010). Her success in the UK lead her being snatched up by US producers, and she went on to direct episodes of Dexter (2009 – 11), Ugly Betty (2010) and the enormously popular House (2011).

More recently, she has directed and exec-produced the opening two episodes of Marvel’s The Defenders on Netflix, as well as 2 episodes of Jessica Jones, and additionally has directing credits HBO’S Vinyl, Hunted, Turn, The Bridge, Hostages, Orange is the New Black, and many more. She has been nominated for four Best Direction awards for her television work, and The Guardian named her as one of the 50 most powerful women in film and television in 2012. The Defender’s Finn Jones has cited her has one of his favourite directors, saying “she takes no shit from anyone… she really cares about getting the best out of her actors and doesn’t compromise until she gets that performance”.

Charles Sturridge is an English screenwriter, producer and stage, television and film director, best known for directing Shackleton (2002), Gulliver’s Travels (1996), and Longitude (2001). Sturridge started out as an actor, starring in the controversial if… (1968) and subsequently as Edward VII in Edward the Seventh (1975). His move into directing began with episodes of Coronation Street and Strangers, but the real turning point came when he was asked to take over from director Lindsay Hogg in the TV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited (1979). Because of the few credits to his name, the actors thought he was part of an insurance scam, and that his inexperience would cause the production to fall through. Yet despite the turmoil surrounding the production and the budget, the series won international acclaim after it had aired and won over 17 awards, including two Golden Globes and six British Academy awards.

Following on with his affinity for the literary adaptation, he went on to direct the black-and-white segment La Forza del Destino in the opera / art portmanteau film Aria, (1986), alongside names like Jean-Luc Godard, Derek Jarman, Nic Roeg and Robert Altman which was praised by critics including Siskel and Ebert. He went on to shoot an adaptation of another Evelyn Waugh novel, A Handful of Dust (1988) which was also met favourably, Ebert citing it as both ‘peculiar’ and ‘poignant’.

Since then, Sturridge has directed 8 more films, including the BAFTA award winning Fairy Tale: A True Story, and has 10 TV direction credits to his name, including  Longitude (2001) which he also wrote, and went on to win the BANFF TV Festival Best Series award, two PAWS awards and five BAFTAs, and perhaps his most celebrated work, the two part mini-series, Shackleton (2002); an adaptation of Dava Sobell’s novel of the same name shot on location in the Arctic, and starring Kenneth Branagh. Shackleton won the BAFTA for Best Series and Best Costume,. More recently, Sturridge has directed the 2016 TV movie Churchill’s Secret, and is currently working on directing the forthcoming TV 2018 series of Strike, written by J.K. Rowling, and Marcella.

We’ll be talking with the pair about their work across television series and feature filmmaking, about the difference between working in the UK vs USA TV industries, as well as seeking their advice on breaking into the TV business as a writer/director, and how to navigate this complex and rewarding territory once inside.

The event will take place in the downstairs room of the Blues Kitchen, 34-146 Curtain Rd in Shoreditch, with doors at 7pm and the talk commencing at 8pm, followed by an audience Q&A. Drinks and networking to follow, offering a chance to meet filmmakers, cast and crew, find inspiration and collaborate.

The event is FREE and open to all – writers, directors, producers, actors, crew and more. Tickets are free but space is limited, please RSVP on Eventbrite to let us know you’re coming.

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