Exclusive Interview: Steve Hughes

August 14th, 2013
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

We are thrilled to bring you our exclusive Q&A with Doctor Who director Steve Hughes!

Steve took charge behind the cameras for the filming of the Series 6 adventure Closing Time in which the Doctor joined forces with Craig Owens to overthrow the Cybermen’s latest attempt at world domination – this time from the shadows of a department store. Only in Doctor Who, eh!?

You can read our full interview with Steve below.

Thanks to Steve for his time – visit his site HERE and follow his Twitter @moviegoblin.

Q) Hey, Steve. So how did your involvement with Doctor Who come about?
A) My agent had sent my showreel off to Beth Willis, the Executive Producer at the time, without my knowledge. I’d mostly directed afternoon dramas like Doctors and Land Girls at that point, so it was a big surprise to be called in for a meeting. Even if I hadn’t gotten the gig, I would’ve still been over the moon just to know I’d been considered.

Q) Have you always been a fan of the series?
A) Yes, very much so. My friends were huge fans when I was growing up and I was quite scared to watch at first – Tom Baker terrified me, but I quickly came around. I wouldn’t say I was an obsessive fan but I know a lot more about the show than most.

Q) And when did you first realise you were interested in directing?
A) I’d always been a big film fan but was pursuing a career in graphic design at college. I realised I wasn’t following my dreams, so I did a TV production course in Northumberland, which led me onto becoming a VT editor for the BBC. I was making short films in my spare time and eventually managed to get one into the hands of the then head of BBC drama, who gave me a break on Doctors. I never thought I’d get to do it professionally but I just needed to have more confidence in myself – that’s good advice for anyone!

Q) Are there any directors that have particularly inspired you?
A) I’m a MASSIVE Spielberg fan, but I also love Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, The Coen Brothers, Paul Greengrass, JJ Abrams, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Edgar Wright, Danny Boyle, Peter Weir, Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan… to name a few.

Q) Drawing from your own personal experiences, what advice would you give to any aspiring directors reading this?
A) Don’t give up. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it. Be persistent, but know when the door is closed. Try another one.

Q) What was it like to be entrusted with the task of directing the Cybermen?
A) Terrifying! I’ll never forget giving Paul Kasey, the lovely guy who plays the main Cybermen, notes without his mask on and it was fine… but when he put it on, I was genuinely freaked out seeing those dead Cyberman eyes staring back at me.

Q) We often hear stories about the generally great atmosphere on set. Is this something you can vouch for?
A) It is great but there’s also a lot of pressure – not in an unpleasant way. Everybody just wants the absolute best. And with James Corden and Matt Smith on set, there was a lot of laughs.

Q) Doctor Who is becoming progressively more ambitious and movie like. What techniques are used to achieve its stylish ‘filmic’ look?
A) The show is shot with Arri Alexa cameras, which are amazing. Lots of big movies like Skyfall are shot with them too, so the image quality is very high. Plus, the scale of the sets and visual effects are huge… almost as big as Steven Moffat’s imagination! We all work hard to make it look cinematic.

Q) Now that Doctor Who is in its 50th year what would you say is the secret of its ongoing success?
A) I think it’s all down to the Doctor himself, in all his guises.  He’s such a fantastic character.

Q) Finally, what projects have you got in the pipeline, Doctor Who related or otherwise?
A) I’m currently directing a few episodes of Casualty, right next door to Doctor Who. I’m also developing a few feature film projects.

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