Jon Woods on his move to being a director

Did you go back to being a cameraman after that? (after an accident when he broke his neck)

I did, for about a month. I went back into work I think in September. it happened in January/February, 1989, so I came back in February, I had February ‘til about September recovering, I had a neck brace, and… I was very fit in those days, and that’s what the specialist said – had I not been quite as fit we would have been much more seriously injured. But anyway, I came back to work in the September of 1989 and I found it quite difficult to be a cameraman, holding a camera on my shoulder. So quite a few people said, “Why don’t you try and direct?” and I was, and still am, very grateful to Paul Docherty, who was head of sport, who I had done quite a lot of filming for. I’d done a lot of drama and documentaries but we also had to run through news as well, and we shot quite a lot of news as part of our scheduled routines – we all had to go and work in news. And I’d covered quite a few football matches on two rolls of stripe film on a CP-16 camera, and worked with Paul quite a few times, and he said, “Why don’t you try and direct, Jon? Come and have a go at directing studio.” This is something I’d never done as I’d been a location film cameraman, and he was saying, “Why don’t you change all that and become a director?” And so I joined in… I think the first week in October in 1989, I got took on as an attachment to Sport as a director, and was trained by an experienced director in Sport, I can’t remember the name…

Pat Pearson?

I knew Pat, it wasn’t Pat, it was another freelance director who was very kind to show me the gallery techniques. So I went from being a film cameraman to multi-camera studio, multi-camera OB, and yes, it took a few months to get into the aspect of learning how to do live television, which was what pretty much all of it was – multi-camera live television.

But you left Granada in that year?

No, I was still staff.

So you stayed on as a director?

Yes – a new career, a new period. So from late 1989 to 2003 I was a director, then producer-director in Granada all the time. I was staff. So I did pretty much 25 years as a staff member at Granada Television.

Are you glad you made that change to producer-director?

At times, I’m a little bit unsure whether it was the perfect move, but I think at the time it was a perfect move. Whether I would have enjoyed staying as a lighting cameraman, I don’t think I will ever really know. But one thing I do know is that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I think I’ve got a bit of a skill at doing multi-camera studios, both studios and OB – I quite like that live feel. So I have worked in sport, studios and OB, lots of football, boxing, rugby, you know, bowls, bit of cricket, so that was really good. And learning how to vision mix, another skill that a sports director needs, so that was quite good. And I’m grateful to all the Granada vision mixers, I think almost all of them were women, and what they gave me was an insight to how to vision mix and how to use the desk, and how to make it work – it was great.

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