Tinseltown’s telly tigers

SHOWRUN­NERS: THE ART OF RUN­NING A TV SHOW

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

Di­rected by Des Doyle. Fea­tur­ing JJ Abrams, Joss Whe­don, Shawn Ryan, Damon Lin­de­lof 12A cert, limited re­lease, 86 min The art of doc­u­men­tary film- mak­ing has a lot to do with tim­ing. Ev­ery now and then a sub­ject be­comes ripe for ex­ploita­tion. Get there first and you’ve won half the bat­tle.

A few short years ago, few civil­ians knew what a showrun­ner was. Now the peo­ple who over­see the day-to-day pro­duc­tion of high-end TV shows have be­come the new gods. JJ Abrams and Joss Whe­don have done well as direc­tors, but, it was as showrun­ners on, re­spec­tively, Lost and Buffy the Vam­pire Slayer that they made their names.

Des Doyle has as­sem­bled an im­pres­sive ar­ray of talk­ing heads to ex­plain the pro­ce­dures in this con­sis­tently en­gross­ing doc­u­men­tary. It’s a gru­elling business. Churn­ing out up to 22 hours of qual­ity tele­vi­sion in six months is no­body’s idea of a sinecure. Still, most of the con­trib­u­tors

are happy to ac­knowl­edge that they have the job most every­body wants. “Oh no, I have this bad back from lifting all this gold bul­lion,” one contributor laughs.

As well as ac­cept­ing ob­ser­va­tions from the likes of Abrams and Whe­don, Doyle fol­lows Matthew Car­na­han as he takes House of Lies, a se­ries on man­age­ment con­sul­tancy, from pi­lot to first sea­son. The doc­u­men­tary is sober about the dan­gers and re­al­is­tic about the con­comi­tant dis­ap­point­ments.

“The first year they work for you,” one showrun­ner says of the ac­tors. “The sec­ond year you are part­ners. The third year you work for them.”

Just one of many cries from the heart in an en­ter­tain­ing di­ver­sion that – though it’s nice to see it emerge in cin­e­mas – would play per­fectly well on the medium it ex­am­ines.

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