Director Lucy Gaffy learns the art of handling different actors
Lucy Gaffy with DOP John Stokes on the set of ‘Doctor Doctor.’
During a three month placement as an observing director at the Juilliard School of Drama in New York last year Lucy Gaffy learned a valuable lesson about how to work with actors.
Namely: How to tailor her approach depending on whether an actor has trained at a drama school or gained all his or her experience on sets.
She applied those lessons when she directed an episode of the second season of the Nine Network’s Doctor Doctor last year as part of the Australian Directors’ Guild’s Shadow Directing Program, collaborating with seasoned director Ian Watson.
Producers Ian Collie, Tony McNamara and Claudia Karvan were so impressed they hired her to direct two episodes of the third season. That was extended to four, the latter two co-directed with Ben Chessell, who is now helming episodes of the BBC/Netflix series Giri/Haji in London and Tokyo. The eight-part thriller, which stars Takehiro Hira, Yosuke Kubozuka, Kelly Macdonald and Justin Long, explores the ripple effects of one murder on the two cities.
Explaining how she handles actors, she tells IF: “Sometimes an actor with no [formal] training can be just as creative and imaginative as someone who trained at NIDA, WAAPA or the Juilliard. Some will do their best work in two or three takes after which they can start to become repetitive.
“Those with training are often better after they do a lot of takes, as many as 10 or 12. Those who come from the theatre can find TV disorienting. It’s about being in the moment, irrespective of their backgrounds.”
Gaffy cut her teeth directing the shorts The Love Song of Iskra Prufrock, The Gift (backed by Screen NSW’s Emerging Filmmakers Fund), The Fence and Dream Baby, the latter funded by Screen Australia’s Hot Shots program.
In 2016 she was awarded the ADG attachment on CJZ’s Nine Network miniseries House of Bond, directed by Mark Joffe.
Working with Watson taught her how to channel her energies as a director and to bring cast and crew together for a common purpose amid all the “white noise” surrounding productions.
She is a huge fan of McNamara, who is attending the world premiere of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite at the Venice Film Festival. McNamara wrote and executive produced the 18th Century drama which stars Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. “I love how he has modeled his career, taking on more complex work; he is a real hero,” she said.
A Masters graduate at AFTRS, she and fellow directors Tom Noakes and Will Goodfellow are co-founders of the Goono collective, which produced Noakes’ short film Nursery Rhymes, one of the four nominees for best short fiction at this year’s AACTA Awards.
Next she plans to write and direct two features in a co-production with one of the larger production companies with whom she is having discussions. She envisions making nuanced films which will draw niche audiences around the world, produced on economic budgets which increase the chances of investors recouping.