The Last of Casanova’s Hidden Love Letters
Q&A with Mark Murphy, TV Director
This Is A Dramatised Documentary, Can You Explain A Little About What This Means?
A: It’s fairly common these days for documentary stories to have some drama to avoid too much exposition. The other good thing about it is that it’s a lot cheaper than filming the whole thing in a drama-based format. It’s essentially just a way of engaging the audience and making the show’s content more exciting and involving.
This Is One Of Your Older Pieces Of Work. If You Were To Recreate This Now, Would You Do Anything Differently?
A: Pretty much everything was an absolute baptism by fire, and there were mistakes made throughout the whole production, mostly because it was the first one and I hadn’t anticipated it. I should have anticipated the problems that were likely to arise, as there was no effective schedule, which is critical when shooting drama. The cost was low, as a few of them were not the most experienced, which let the side down. The script was utterly lacking in decent structure, making it very hard to create something that made sense.
The whole production is very disjointed and does not flow well, resulting in an inexperienced look. The other thing was making sure we had the right crew, which we did, however, from a production point of view, the line producer and producer were awful. I say this because they weren’t communicating with each other, even though they happened to be father and son. This meant that during filming when I had a break between scenes, I didn’t have to run out and make a phone call to the producer to get information that he needed to relay to the line producer and vice versa.
All in all, we didn’t capitalise on things, and we missed the opportunity to claim tax credits, which would have given us a rebate of 25%. Nevertheless, you live and learn.
Most Of Your Projects Are Movies, Whereas The Last Of Casanova’s Hidden Love Letters Is A TV Series, How Does Directing A Series Differ From Directing A Movie?
A: Additionally, it is worth noting that this was the first project that I directed with a reasonable budget. One of the major differences I learned in my capabilities from when I was doing that to when I started directing other projects was finding a balance between what you would do in a documentary and what you would want to get in drama form.
There are so many different elements with film, it has just one standard way of filming, or rather, one standard way of storytelling. It’s a lot easier for me to do a TV drama-documentary now, but it would take a long time to find the balance that would keep the project both engaging and informative. At the end of the day, my heart is in film production and I don’t see myself going back to TV.
If You Were To Create Another Series Like This, Which Historical Event Would You Choose To Use?
A: Well, you’re assuming it would be a documentary TV series. I do have a few projects that I would like to turn into a TV series, maybe even one as a spin-off from the films I’m currently in production on. But if it were to be a documentary drama series, I’d love to do something about the 1920s in Hollywood when the whole movie industry started.
That’s a fascinating topic and something new that hasn’t been done many times before. Other than that, I can’t think of anything that would excite me enough to want to invest that amount of time and energy. So, yeah, I can’t think of anything I would be that passionate about, apart from the history of Hollywood.
Do You Have A Stand-Out Memory Of Your Time On This Show?
A: yes, quite a few from the drama side. As previously mentioned, the fallout between the producer and the line producer made life very difficult for me, so that was an unpleasant memory. However, filming the documentary side was incredibly fun, I got to go and film in Venice three times because the first time we went, the presenter turned out to be unbelievably poor at present. She was incapable of looking into the camera, which is vital when presenting a show, we had to do simple takes 17-18 times. We were filming in February at the carnival in Venice, which is incredibly cold. The camera operator had to wear a steady camera rig in the cold, which was squeezing the life out of him. He had to take multiple takes because she couldn’t remember her lines and wouldn’t look into the camera. However, ironically, in her main profession outside of TV, she was a hypnotist. You would have thought that looking straight into something would be one of the easiest things for her.
So, due to the cold climate and the hotel being like a furnace, the camera and printer just collapsed. He got a massive cold and was bedridden, so it meant we’d have to come out and film again, which meant more travelling. Filming in the Czech Republic was enormously fun because that’s where Casanova spent the last ten years of his life. Going to the outskirts of the Bavarian region to a town called Duchkov was an awesome experience, as no one could speak English and people were surprised to see us. Casanova had spent time as a guest with Count Vouched there. The only person there who could speak English was a chap from Nigeria who had come over to play for the local football team, so it was quite unusual. But it was so charming and unusual that it provided fantastic memories. Since it was a smaller crew, going to places like the Czech Republic, Venice, and Aix-en-Provence in the South of France was magically enjoyable.
Especially as this was my first big production, it was incredibly fun for me, the rest of it was a lot tougher and provided me with a massive lesson in terms of how to shoot productions efficiently and economically. The lessons I learned from shooting that production has served me very well for subsequent productions.
Do You Have Any More Documentaries In The Works?
A: I sincerely hope not, and hope that it remains that way.