In the Director’s Chair: Tom Shankland on learning from actors & unhealthy obsessions with Roman emperors – The Drum

In the Director’s Chair: Tom Shankland on learning from actors & unhealthy obsessions with Roman emperors – The Drum

House of Cards
The latest director to answer The Drum’s questions in our Director’s Chair series is Tom Shankland, who is represented by Great Guns for branded content. Having worked on TV shows such as Les Misérables and House of Cards, Shankland talks to the Drum about being inspired by actors and why the original Tango ad is still the best ad. Previously in the series, The Drum has quizzed Matías Moltrasio, Jamie Jay Johnson, Emmanuel Adjei, Henry Busby, Andrew Lang, Camille Marotte, Mea Dols de Jong, Klaus Obermeyer, Eli Roth, Mate Steinforth, Pamela Romanowsky, Traktor and Doug Liman. Who or what inspired you to be a director? (or who are your creative heroes and why?) Once upon a time in Italy, my dad took me to an open-air screening of Spartacus. I can still hear the cries of 'Io sono Spartacus!' echoing around the night sky as bats flew across the screen. At the time, I probably had a very unhealthy obsession with very violent Roman emperors, so I'm blaming Stanley Kubrick, Kirk Douglas, Emperor Caligula and my dad for my (healthier?) obsession with the awesome, emotional, inspirational power of cinema. Outside of work, what are you into? If I'm not dreaming ....


I like to push myself towards genres I haven't tried before. It was great to venture into the Marvel universe for the pilot of The Punisher, come up for air and then dive deep into Victor Hugo's 19th France with Les Misérables and all of the challenges of a classic literary adaptation and period drama. [embedded content] I love working with actors and have been lucky to work with some of the best – Tom Hardy (WΔZ), Olivia Colman (Les Mis), Robin Wright (House of Cards), Dominic West (Les Mis), David Oyelowo (Les Mis) and many others. As a director, I've learned so much from listening to the actors. A strong vision is essential but without collaboration, it can end up being imposing and dull. I always enjoy trying to squeeze every drop of emotional truth from a moment, however, heightened, bizarre, or seemingly implausible a scene might be. .

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