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I'm Jace Lacob and you're listening to Masterpiece Studio. It's a trip to the cinema this week on Grantchester with Would-Be starlets, delusional screenwriters and star crossed lovers wandering the village green.
I'm on the blacklist. Just another victim of Senator McCarthy's, which I think you're a witch.
Don't have a news section in the bino, Larry. Have you met anybody famous Marlon Brando was a sweet guy, Doris Day is a gas John Wayne not so much.
The projectionist at the Beaumont Cinema meets his maker in a gruesome murder scene, and Jordan will are left with a blonde bombshell of a cigarette girl as their main suspect.
We think he's handsome. Well, fine, thank you. You know, I sure got Timothy.
He's got all the temptation.
He needs the in true cinematic fashion here on the podcast we had behind the camera for a conversation with this episode's director, Christiana Abbadon Greene, an accomplished TV and film director and a newcomer to the Grantchester creative team. We spoke with Ebon Greene about the power of cinema, Shakespeare and what it took to bring this week's episode of Grantchester to Life. And this week, we are joined by Grantchester director Christiana Yvonne Green. Welcome. Hello. Thank you. Thanks for having me.
You directed the 3rd and 4th episodes of Grantchester this season. How did you come to be involved with the show?
I met for the block. They were scene directors at that time, but I already knew the exact and I've been in and seen several of the people in Kudos, the production company. So I was kind of familiar with them. But but I did go and meet them for the set of episodes. And I had watched a lot of previous Grantchester and gave them my version of events of what I thought they were doing. Well, and I know at that time they had the new Vicha that was well.
And I and I really liked the way that they managed to do the handover between Sydney and. Well, I thought that worked really well.
This episode of Grantchester is incredibly and and no pun intended cinematic with much of the action focused on the Art Deco Bowmont cinema. What was it like to film a period series in a period cinema like this?
Oh, it was Joy that we had so much fun sort of recreating kind of classic Hollywood and what that means and the dream that's kind of being fed to people on the screen, but also in the looking for the locations themselves, because we actually found an interior that worked really well and then we had to go somewhere else for the kind of outside the ticket office in that area because we didn't find it all in one building. But it just worked with there was a fantastic designer on it, Michael Fleisher, and and he just has so many ideas and created these wonderful posters.
And and we got those great big projectors in that space. And that projection room is that is actually a build because projection rooms are much smaller than that. So it was great. And we were all sort of cinema lovers as part of the crew. So it was great to add in those ideas and and that color and that plasma and everything like that into this episode.
It does feel like a love letter to classic films like Kind Hearts and Coronets. The Third Man and inspector calls. We see all of these posters. Their projectionist, Wyatt Rogers, waxes poetic about the magic of cinema.
It's the beauty of this place. Transports us to new worlds, we forget ourselves, and yet it's us we search for up there, exposing us to feelings we never thought we'd know.
Is that what you hope to bring to the screen when you direct a way for your audience to escape or to connect?
I really hope that when I'm directing that my audience is really going to connect and have a chance to walk in the shoes of those characters and and maybe understand a little bit more about why that person was kind of forced to do that or felt the need to do that and what it felt to be on the receiving end. And just that idea of, you know, that life is a bit more complex. So there's no kind of straight goodies and baddies.
Life's a little bit more gray. We've all got our dreams and we're in our own life and our own worlds. We reach the hero. So I think that's the kind of passion, really, in telling stories. And and I really liked sort of Cinema Paradiso. That was another kind of a reference for this film, you know, that idea of the magic and just sort of soaking in this thing that's been put up in front of you. And everyone wants to kind of delve into that magic world that it's created on screen.
You directed an astonishing 99 episodes of the long-running British medical drama Doctors, this is your first episode on Grantchester coming in as a freelance director. How do you make an episode fit into a pre established visual style of a show while still making it feel like your own?
Um, you know, the world of Grantchester is kind of clearly defined as the sort of, you know, it's the fifties.
You know what that means and what that looks like. So that's all kind of defined. And then, you know, you get your scripts and that really helps narrow down the world and sort of what you want to see and what you want to show. So really, it's the human stories in whatever show I'm directing. And I directed some episodes of Father Brown a few years before, and that was a similar time period that was 50s as well. So it didn't feel that foreign.
I mean, on that note, I mean, obviously, Father Brown call the midwife Grantchester. All period pieces, what do period dramas present to you as a director in terms of challenges, what are the challenges there in the challenges of period drama?
You have to really understand what was happening at that time and why and you know, the limitations that those people lived within that you might find frustrating. So you have to really do the research and know kind of what was the taste at that time. Were women, for instance, allowed to do and not do you know what sorts of jobs did women do? So if you understand the context, then you're able to sort of play within that framework. But it's, you know, some of the best period dramas.
They they're really good at allowing us to reflect on what's happening now. The things in Call the midwife about women's health, you know, that really kind of key issues that we're still grappling about in this day and age. So somehow you're still adding to the conversation, you're know in Grantchester, the Kappy work, and it's a big deal, but still that that the plight of women trying to juggle a family and a career know some of those issues and and also the importance of religion and how central the church was.
And we can look back now and think, wow, look how much it's changed.
Why has it changed?
So it's really interesting to draw those comparisons. I mean, along those lines as well, a big element of this episode is about the partitioning of India and the the dark legacy of colonization and racism. I mean, this is set in 1957. But does this storyline feel particularly timely in 2010?
Because, you know, really here in the U.K., anyway, they've only in the last few years agreed and started talking about partition and what that meant to people and their families and the deaths and and the legacy of that that's gone on right till now. And it's a huge subject. The loss of the British public knew nothing about it. It's really kind of interesting to sort of to touch on that and within this episode to to have a character and that he brings that pain and and all of that into Grantchester.
It's not something that just happens out of sight. So the kind of legacy of that is brought home to roost with Jack and his motivations in India, there were more refugees than trains to carry them.
Mr Chapman commandeered a truck, drove families across the border for a price. Not jewelry, gold, they keep their value, you see. You sure you've got the right man? Father was separated from us. My mother pleaded with Mr. Jumpman to wait a few minutes, but he could not.
My mother gave him her emerald ring as payment to make the extra journey. It was her engagement ring.
Many actors and writers talk about Grantchester as being their happy place. And I'm saying that in air quotes or indeed as well describes a sort of Eden. Did it feel that way for you coming in to do these two episodes? It it digs.
I mean, I kept hearing that, oh, it's a happy place. Oh, it's really, you know, it's it's great.
And I thought, oh, really? But I had so much fun. They were so great. It's one of my favorite ever experiences of filming because it was just, you know, the cast, the crew, just joy. I mean, everyone was sort of smiling and laughing. And I just I had so much fun doing it and I'm really pleased with the result. So I just I look on it as such a happy time and I'm so pleased that I did the job.
Like all Grantchester episodes, this week's installment wraps a gruesome murder around multiple personal strands, Willy-Nilly going on their first date, Mrs. C, uncovering the shady truth about much of Jack's wealth. How do you piece together these elements when you're directing an episode? How do you strive for balance between them?
I think the balance I mean, it comes from the scripts. It comes from the writing. I mean, there were elements that, you know, have more prominence because there's there's more scenes about a certain one of those issues that pushes it to the fore. And that's the thing you focus on more. But, you know, will in at least state was really important. And to get the tone right and kind of what was wanted and expected and the romance was trying to achieve there.
So there was a lot of thought there about how we did that.
And, you know, we did a rehearsal of one of the later scenes, again, just to make sure that when we were out filming that we were everyone was comfortable and we were getting what we needed to tell the story. I love the overhead shot during the baptism at the start of Episode three, it's a really unusual angle to film this scene from, particularly as we'd expect a more standard wide shot. What was the idea behind that shot?
I just think it's really nice to put the camera in places that you'd really like to see things from. You know, that's probably the bird's eye view. That's the perfect view. If you were a kid or something and you wanted to see a baptism and you want to see exactly what happens, but you were too short to with the font, you don't know know, that's a great view that just kind of showing exactly how it works and how the congregation sort of gather around that space.
So it's really exciting when you go and look at locations for the first time and you go and you go to different angles, you look at different heights and and you you get excited with different ways of showing a space that maybe has been shown so many times before. I think that's one of the benefits probably of having different directors that you do come with that freshie. But I went up the back stairs and into that sort of space and I looked over and I saw that you could see right into the font.
And I thought, right, yeah.
I mean, it does bring to mind the sort of divine aspect of the scene. It is a baptism. After all. We are getting this sort of heavenly eye almost looking down on the proceedings.
I baptize you in the name of the father. The Son and the Holy Ghost. There is no greater love on Earth and that of a child for their parent. They look to us for guidance, comfort and unwavering support. You are there, safe harbor. Never forget that. We try to do our very best. We're only human, we don't always have the answers. That's when we turn to God. Your role is godparents is a gift, you have been chosen to help shape a young life, to guide them on the right path.
Who knows what else you grow up to become a doctor, lawyer, lion tamer.
Perhaps you can help make her dreams a reality with one vital ingredient. Was that a consideration when you're sort of making a shot decision like that? Yeah, I mean, I think within a church space, anyway, there is that feeling of kind of reference, and you want to push that wherever you can, you know, the idea of this holy space and that it being bigger than the people that are within it, you want to give it that kind of feeling of grandeur and something higher that really says something about the essence of the space and what it's there for, what people gathering there to do.
So I think every space you go into, you're looking at the purpose of it and you want to convey that somehow on camera. Before this next question, a brief word from our sponsors. St. Petersburg's Hermitage, Moscow's Red Square golden ring town's Viking, dedicated to bringing travelers closer to the real Russia along the waterways of the SARS, offering a small ship experience for the shore excursion included in every port, discovered more at Viking Cruises Dotcom. There are some moments of quiet intimacy on screen in this episode, will gingerly touching Ellie's hand in the cinema, reminded me of a pair of teenagers on an awkward first date, complete with their heckling classmates sitting behind them.
What went into crafting this delicious tension for the nascent couple here? Oh, it was it was that was quite I mean, it was quite tricky to do just because of the nature of cinema seats and where you put them and where you put the kind of rowdy people behind and and making sure that you do catch that shots of the hands.
And it's not just nice to sort of give the sense of that huge space and all the people gathered with them there, but also that you're getting the really small, intimate bits and the behind. You get the rowdy people to sort of mime their noise and just do that and then at the sound and afterwards. So it's not so you can separate things out.
Meanwhile, during that scene, we, the audience at home are watching an audience, watching a film from multiple angles. It's an incredibly meta moment. We've got this sort of dazzling flicker of The Ladykillers happening behind us in front of us at times.
It's probably just a hit. So far, so disastrous. I don't I'm not sure it's going pretty well.
Could you lay out the angles and blocking for these cinema scenes? How tricky was it to to sort of pull all of this off? It was pretty tricky because we had to then you had to replay that you had you know, we had this footage that we were allowed to use Ladykillers and we'd play that a certain angle and want the shot from behind people's heads so you could see it on the screen to see them sitting in it. And then when we weren't seeing them and we were seeing their faces, we had a light that kind of flickered.
So it kind of gave the feel of the cinema screen and how that change in light affects the face and what that looks like. So we had that and then there were the various kind of close ups as well. So it was really some of the wide shots that we had the film projected. But then also in post, we replaced it so that we weren't tied into exactly what was on screen at that moment that we had to fit in to what I shot on the day.
So there was some green screen elements as well. We were able to sort of just replace what was on the screen and get that continuity with the bits of the film that we showed. So it was a yeah, it was a little bit of a number. And also the crowd we had crowd repetition as well because we didn't have enough background to fill the audience. So at the end of the day, we had kind of rows of people moving into different seats up and down the cinema so that when we get the wide and we merge all together, it looks like a packed house.
And in fact, it really wasn't.
Betsi is left in her police cell. The script for the episode simply reads Will and put Betsey into the cell. Gerdy says not much of a dressing room, but it'll have to do. Geordie's slams the door on Betsi. It's a very small scene in the episode. We watch that the scene is shot from sort of above at this very strange angle that gives it an almost voyeuristic quality, as though we're sort of a spy camera in the room. What was your approach to shooting that scene with Zoe Tapper?
It was I really wanted that sense of, you know, this woman that had been living a lie, she was prepared to do whatever it took and then at the end of the day, she was left. The grim reality of her surroundings was brought home to her. So wanted to make her feel quite small suddenly in that space. And and in a way, I kind of felt slightly sorry for her. You know, she dreamed of Hollywood and lights and magic and she ended up in this kind of grotty cell and this was going to be the rest of her life.
So it was that. And I think within that scene, the reality dawned on her as well. And I thought that those shots really helped emphasize what she was feeling and also what we thought about her. I want to talk about the scene in the alley as things heat out between Will and L.A., it's not only beautifully shot, but really heartbreaking to watch.
Where are we going? This off the record, if you want. Wanted to be. For God's sake. Well. Can you talk about how you framed that scene and what you hope to achieve with the blocking, what went into making this as heartbreaking as it is? Well, I mean, in the alley, I mean, this was the scene that we rehearsed because I really wanted them to feel completely comfortable and that they were clear about what I wanted, you know, the touches here, that the looks and we found this space that was sort of it's definitely not romantic.
You know, it's this back of an alley back of this club. And Ali is really hoping that this is kind of the moment where she will kind of really get together and, you know, as adults.
And and he's just really he goes with it for a while and he can't help himself. And then he is just struck by the truth of who he is and his vocation and the struggle that he's constantly trying to wage. And he's made a commitment to his religion and that he's going to be there for other people and not himself. So he then has to remove himself because if he stays, it's just for him. It's just selfish. And he wants to stay, but he knows that he mustn't.
So I thought that was it was great that that struggle and that we really worked on that that evening in the alley, just the fact that he wants to be there, but he tells himself away. So that was it. And you you feel sorry for him and it's not great for her as well.
Left in the back of this sort of quasi, Ali, you know, she was she was hoping for something much more exciting. Badly done will be badly done, Betsy falls into the trope of the femme fatale. There are tinges of noir here. There's the the flashbulbs of Betsey's mug shot mirroring her photo shoot in the cinema, the Dim nightclub that Will and Ellie visit the darkness of their alley encounter. Did you look to integrate or emulate any aspects of film noir within the episode?
Yeah, I think they were all of the references that we had, you know, things like the Third Man or Cinema Paradiso as well, all the colors and the the idea of the shadows in the in the kind of noir cinema and just incorporate kind of all of that.
You know, we kind of borrowed and stolen from the richness of many of those films. And I really like the irony of the you know, having her mugshot taken at the end does that. And then we saw her in the cinema and she craves the spotlight. But suddenly, you know, we know the only spotlight she's getting is that bare, horrible light against the mugshot board. But the nightclub was great and the designer just found these beautiful sort of table lamps and then the lighting, the DP that was added almost nothing else.
So we just had the paying of these kind of red hot light bulbs throughout this space. And when we were film and I remember sort of being there thinking, I wouldn't mind being here, you could stay here for the evening. This is great.
This is a great space. And it just looked great on camera. It was so different when we walked in to the way it was kind of completely transformed and it just worked beautifully for the scene in the club and everything else gave us exactly what we wanted.
You directed the critically acclaimed Twenty Eighteen short film, Some Sweet, Oblivious Antidote, which tells the story of a young British Nigerian girl who will only speak in iambic pentameter. Where did this idea of the importance of a girl finding herself in difficult texts as an effort to reconnect with her father come from? I was looking to do a short and the research on its Moyra, she'd done a radio piece that was largely based on my childhood and there was the elements of me and my father and how important that was to me in this museum figure.
And she wanted to do it, had to be based on Shakespeare. So that was the thing that we went in for, to get funding. So it had to be a piece somehow related to Shakespeare. So they were already the kind of parameters. And so she kind of just put these elements together. And so within that, it was, you know, I'm from a Nigerian background. It became a really personal piece as well, because I kind of identified strongly as the little girl in that story.
And and also the idea that children from all sorts of backgrounds, you know, can learn and enjoy reading Shakespeare. I thought that was a nice message to to sort of send and and also the idea of London being this beautiful, magical place, because often on our screens, on our TVs, it's quite grey and gritty and trucks and guns. But growing up, I just remember the flowers and the colour. And so it was very clear that I wanted this to be kind of really warm and colourful.
It's a single line of Shakespeare spoken by Ives departing father that pushes the 11 year old into her incessant iambic fever. Was there a moment in your own life film or television series or a play or an event that pushed you into directing?
Um, I'm not sure. I just I just loved cinema. I loved television. And I love stories. And I and I really liked that I could lose myself within the stories and be taken somewhere else. So it was just real escapism and magic. And I just consumed. But I also I loved reading and writing stories, so it somehow felt like it came together. I was I then became really interested in photography as well. So when I was choosing the degree, although I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do, I, I saw that you could do immediate production and I was suddenly just really excited.
So it wasn't from an early age. I thought, oh, I'll be a director. I didn't know that was a job. So it was kind of all of my tastes kind of drew me towards it. Really? Yeah. So I'm really happy about that.
I was when I was choosing a degree because I wanted to do something that I would love doing so that learning wouldn't be a chore. And so I was really excited to find this course that felt like it was all the things I loved wrapped up in one package that I could go and study for three years. Last weekend, 700 black, Asian and minority ethnic workers in the British entertainment industry sent a letter to the U.K. culture secretary for failing to reform the media's culture problem.
Steve McQueen separately attacked the lack of representation in the U.K. industry. Why is the U.K. lagging Hollywood on this front? I think here it's the racism that is faced here is much more silent, but very definite, the glass ceilings are really in place and and there's very little room for movement. So although people often aren't obviously racist towards you, it's you kind of go onto the sets and you go to these spaces and there's no one that looks like you and you're not made to feel welcome.
And, you know, you go for jobs and things like that and and you're the risk. You're a risk. And or we don't know you do you know or you know what you're doing. You know, there's all of these sorts of feelings and thoughts that are kind of put on the table for you to sort of try and disprove. But, you know, other kind of young white men who just fly right past you and past those issues.
And that will be seen as a plus. Oh, they're fresh, they're new or we've discovered someone new, whereas the rest of us just left to struggle and not get very far for a very long time. And it's now been called out. There have been attempts over the last five, 10 years to sort of change things. But until there were kind of stocks that started to be gathered in the last six years, it was hard to pinpoint people just sort of laugh it off and go, oh, no, no, it's fine, it's fine.
But the statistics just really proved exactly what was going on and who was being employed. And a lot of it is unconscious bias, but it's not an open welcome in space, unfortunately. I mean, it feels especially telling in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, both here in the states and elsewhere. How can the UK industry then rectify its failures in terms of diversity?
I think people need to just start hiring people of color and stop making excuses and stop relying on training schemes that only take people so far. You know, you do a training scheme, you get a foot in the door, but there's nothing else from there. And then before you know it, there's another training scheme. And then bringing someone else in to also try and put a foot in the door and no one can actually get through. But there's lots of people trying to get through a door that won't open.
So until I think the production companies, the broadcasters need to just take action and stop making excuses. I know here again, in terms of race, the prime minister wants to have another commission, although there have been several over the last 10 years, but none of the measures that they've put in place. So the thing about this time is that there's been space with horror that's happened to fly for for everyone to rise up and and just say that it's, you know, something has to be done.
And finally, there are allies and people are listening and and maybe there'll be change. I mean, the BBC have dedicated one hundred million to diverse programme making over three years sky here. I think it's 30 million or so over again over a couple of years. So there's there's money and maybe these projects, hopefully the money will go into those projects and then produces production companies trying to access that money will have to make diverse content and that the crews on them will be people of color and that then hopefully will spread further into the industry.
Do you think then it starts just even with a sense of representation on screen to show people that there are stories about people who look like them that then could maybe spur people to enter the industry and thus sort of create a supply chain of people of color working in the industry. I mean, there are so few U.K. women of color directing these days.
Yeah, I mean, and that's just because people have got fed up so people try and try and try for so long. And then finally you say, oh, you know, let's get a proper job and then some money. Whereas instead of trying to get somewhere where I'm making no progress, but I mean, on our TV screens, there are. More people of color appearing, but it's, again, what it's how their parents, they're sort of sidelined friend, if they're you know, they don't have much of a voice, they're not an authentic character.
It doesn't add to the story very much. So it's about it's also the people telling the stories and who's making the production. So it's it's on screen diversity, but it's also off screen as well, behind the camera.
Cristiana, Evan Greene, thank you so very much. Thank you. Thanks so much. I've enjoyed talking to. Romantic leads on Grantchester, never stick around for long, and with the dashing Reverend Bill Davenports wearing complete personal celibacy out of a matter of faith, romance might be hard to come by for some time, but that won't stop local reporter Ellie Harding.
It's not. I don't like you. I do. Obviously, it's just this wrong for me to behave like that. And it's not just me. It's the church bringing in the big guns. What are you going to do next year? Holy water over me.
You know, my situation. It's been clear from the day we met. Actually, well, it gets less and less clear the longer I know. I'm not sure you even know what you want.
Grantchester newcomer Lauren Cars joins us on the podcast on Sunday, July 5th, to give a signal boost to her ambitious Ellie. Masterpiece Studio is hosted by me, Jace Lacob, and produced by Nick Anderson, Alicia Backed-up is our editor. Rebecca Eaton is the executive producer at large of Masterpiece, the executive producer of Masterpiece with Suzanne Simpson. Sponsors for Masterpiece on PBS are Viking Cruises, Raymond James and the Masterpiece Trust.