Post Magazine

November 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 15 of 51

director's chair Jim Field Smith — The Wrong Mans L By Marc Loftus Senior Editor/ Director of Web Content The BBC and Hulu partnered on this new comedic series Unlike many television comedies, The Wrong Mans was shot entirely on location. 14 ONDON — Jim Field Smith is a director who's found success in both film and television. His film credits include She's Out of My League and Butter, and when Post caught up with him recently, he was in London, preparing for a trip to LA, where he would begin work on a new film for Paramount, titled Virgins America. The film, says Smith, is a reimagine of The Inbetweeners, a popular British show that ran for three seasons on TV and then saw theatrical release. Yet in between his film projects, he somehow managed to direct a pilot and new television series too — this one, a collaboration between the BBC and Hulu. The Wrong Mans is a comedy that began airing on the BBC in the UK in September, and is now available in the US via Hulu. The series stars James Corden and Mathew Baynton, who play two lowly office workers — Phil and Sam — that get caught up in a deadly criminal conspiracy after discovering a ringing phone at the scene of a car accident. In addition to their starring roles in the series, Corden and Baynton also co-wrote the show. It's not the typical bright and colorful comedy that television audiences in the US have become accustomed to. Instead, it was shot entirely on location, with a single camera. Here, the director details how he was able to create the six-part series, and how his feature filmmaking techniques were put to use for a television workflow. POST: How did your approach to The Wrong Mans differ from your film work? JIM FIELD SMITH: "It's very much a traditional TV series first and foremost. We made a pilot for the BBC and they immediately commissioned it for a series. That was two years ago. We said, that's great but we can't make it right now. I was doing a film and James Corden was doing 'One Man, Two Guvnors' in London, which really took off. It went to Broadway and he ended up winning the Tony. So he was out of the picture for at least a year. I shot the TV series Episodes for Showtime, the second season, in between making the pilot of The Wrong Mans and making the series of The Wrong Mans. As soon as we were all available, we made it." POST: How did the BBC get involved? SMITH: "The BBC actually paid for the pilot. One of the reasons we set it up with the BBC was because they were prepared to make a pilot with us. We were very keen to make a pilot because we felt, tonally, we had to make it right. We had the option of various Post • November 2013 broadcasters, who were offering series commissions off the back of James' involvement and a script they had written, but James and Matt, who created the show, decided they wanted to make a pilot. They came to me and said, 'We are making this pilot. Would you like to direct it? We really want to get it right and make it filmic and not sort of cheap.' "We didn't have a fantastic budget, but the BBC allowed us, very kindly, to make the pilot that we wanted to make. I think we ended up with a stronger series as a result. It's quite rare in the UK. We don't make a lot of pilots in the UK." POST: Tell us about the production? SMITH: "There is no studio stuff in the show at all. It's entirely location-based. It's very much a film — in six parts — is the way that we pitch it to people. It's influenced more by film than TV, although structurally, it's influenced really allow you to do some of the stuff you want to do in an action-driven show." POST: Are there plans for a second season? SMITH: "It's hard to say without giving away too much. The series has a resolve to it, but it is open ended as well. We are currently talking to the BBC about a second season. It's more a case of me, James and Matt trying to figure out what the story would be." POST: What's your take on Internet programming? SMITH: "Hulu are making a break into original programming. This is their first slate of original programming. I think they have four shows that they've invested in as co-producers — we are one of them and they are making a very big push with our show, so we are very flattered. There is going to be a big campaign to launch the show in the US. They Mathew Baynton and James Corden co-wrote and co-star in the Alexa-shot series, The Wrong Mans, which can be viewed here in the US on Hulu. by TV. It's not a sitcom that resets every week. It's a linear storyline in the vain of 24 or Homeland. There are plot twists and cliff hangers, and we really enjoy that kind of drama model." POST: The show is seeing broadcast and Internet distribution? SMITH: "The Wrong Mans just started airing in the UK. We are on Episode 3 right now. It's six episodes. It started on Sept 24th here and it's weekly installments. It's airing on Hulu too. They weren't involved in the pilot, but they have been involved ever since the pilot pretty much. We realized that we needed some additional investment to make the show on the scale and ambition that we had in mind. Half hour comedy budgets don't are definitely positioning themselves as content creators. Their traditional thing was 'last night's TV.' They have really shifted. It's kind of amazing how they have evolved in the last few years. I think they have something like 30 million subscribers a month and they are on iPad, Xbox, Playstation… It's not jus the Website — they have become a multiplatform place. And they have a really good content library. One of the reasons we went with Hulu as co-producers was that they are big anglophiles. They have a lot of British content now and I felt like they understood the sensibility of the show and didn't want to weigh in and sort of change it. That's why they were a good partner for the BBC. The BBC is very

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Post Magazine - November 2013