Interview: Saul Metzstein on Crimson & Finale

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Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull talks to Saul Metzstein about directing the show and his upcoming episodes.

The Crimson Horror has attracted a some big names; Dame Diana Rigg and her daughter will be appearing onscreen together for the first time. What was it like shooting the pair together?

Mark Gatiss wrote the parts specially for them, and I can only speculate how – and how much – the relationship on screen reflects their real relationship!! (not too much, I hope). But it was great fun, particularly shooting the big dramatic scene between them in the factory attic.

What makes directing Doctor Who different from any other project?

The obvious difference is that Doctor Who can be anything at all. One minute you’re in the wild west, the next you’re on a spaceship, then next you’re in Victorian London. I think there is a general fluidity that I try to bring to it, but it’s important to be very flexible and responsive to the massively varying material. Most TV programmes have much stricter stylistic limitations.

Which episode of Doctor Who has been the most fun to shoot?

In a way, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, partially because it was the first one I shot, and partially because it’s the maddest one I’ve shot. It’s properly crazy and insanely fast. It’s probably the most technically complex one I’ve done, and I was frankly amazed at what we achieved within the shooting schedule.

How do you get involved with show like Doctor Who? Where you a fan of the revived series before?

I’m not really sure how I got involved, other than just the fact that the BBC were looking for directors. I’d directed a few things for the BBC: Micro Men for BBC4 and an episode of the first series of the rebooted Upstairs Downstairs, which I’m guessing they liked. I’d also directed the 2nd Unit on the film, Dredd, which meant that I had a reasonably good knowledge of shooting VFX-heavy material (useful for Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and Who in general).

The Eleventh Doctor’s TARDIS console room made a dramatic transformation at Christmas. Was there any strong differences in shooting both rooms?

For various technical reasons the old TARDIS leant itself to crane shooting, and the new one is better for low angles and Steadicam shooting. If you study the post-Xmas episodes, there are a lot more shots favouring the (very attractively designed) ceiling.

Fans always hear stories about the banter shared by the cast and crew. Are there any stories you could tell us about?

Yes, the atmosphere on set is great, particularly when Matt Smith is there. The banter between Matt, Karen and Arthur was especially funny (although there was way too much singing!).

What can you tell us about the smoke-shrouded finale, The Name of the Doctor?

I promised not to give anything away. In fact, I’m legally obliged not to give anything away!

Steven Moffat’s latest creation are the ‘Whispermen’, are they particularly scary?

They’re nasty, very nasty. Nightmarish, I would say.

Finally, will you be returning to the show? For Series 8?

I don’t know – it’s up to the producers.