Modern day success is about more than achieving greatness. Whether a product, an artist, or a service, a necessary component of success in present times is about offering something unique that fulfills multiple objectives. While that’s not a definition you might find common in describing a director, it is most appropriate for Chris Power. Both the UK and America have recognized Power’s uncanny ability to capture physicality on camera and to anticipate what can achieve its ideal communication.
Matching the tone of the show with the performance of competitor’s on such varied TV programs as ABC’s Dancing With the Stars to FOX’s Ultimate Tag, Chris has been a key element in the style of programs which are central to the physicality that athletes and dancers share. With these immensely popular televised competition shows and many others, this UK director has become known for the intuitive nature of his directing that allows an audience to feel that they are in the middle of the action taking place.
Dancing With the Stars has been a ratings earner for ABC during the past decade and a half. Seventeen Primetime Emmys testify to its durability and vitality for the network. During season twenty-six which featured athletes in this dance competition series, Power was enlisted to direct. Having witnessed his work on the BAFTA Winning Series Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and Dancing with the Stars Ireland, ABC’s Sam Zoda and Andrew Llinares (the executive in charge and the exec producer) were adamant that Chris was ideal for the director’s chair.
Validation of this decision is easily visible in a routine during the season finale in which camera operators were choreographed with Sharna and Josh in a spectacular 360° routine which end with Josh bare-chested under a fountain of water in studio. Executive Producer Matilda Zoltowski and NBC was so impressed that they reached out to Power to direct for World of Dance. Taking advantage of Chris’s background with dance allowed an expedited process in moving from rehearsals to actual performances for the camera.
Insight into the intentions of the choreography rather than simply focusing on what is being witnessed is what makes his approach so compelling. The director explains, “In Briar Nole’s qualifying dance, her routine featured many gymnastic tricks but also a lot of facial emotion. Finding the ideal angle and doing so quickly allows the full expression of the dancer and the choreography while maximizing the efficiency of the schedule.
The Kings Malhari routine during the duels portion of the show was not only of the most jaw-dropping routines of precision dancing and formations but featured amazing tricks. Working at my best as the director, I can capitalize on the energy and excitement…even the comedy of this performance and make it even more thrilling for the audience.”
A very different type of excitement utilized the unifying thread of Chris’s vantage for FOX’s Ultimate Tag. No stranger to shows of this type of subject matter as evidenced in his work on Gladiators for Sky TV and Can’t Touch This for the BBC, Power infused a tone of gracefulness in combat to this physical game show which pits elite athletes against athletically gifted members of the public. A profound insight into choreography and movement proved to be the key to relating the game as the producers hoped.
Chris describes, “The show was a real Directors challenge. A huge set in an arena with large obstacles blocking camera shots and six to eight people on the same course running in different directions. Who do you follow? Well the answer is you have to have enough cameras and recording machines to follow each individual athlete to ensure we didn’t miss the main moment of the game which was when they got tagged. The challenge is this, if one camera is following one person and they suddenly turn and run the opposite way, all you have is a shot of their back.
I had to come up with a plan for each scenario and cameras had to adapt quickly and look for another athlete or tagger so we always had their facial expressions in shot especially when they were tagged.” While his first visit to the show’s massive set at the Warner Brothers stage inspired his confidence, Power admits that it was until he saw the actual footage that he understood the effectiveness of his design.
Through his work in the UK, the U.S., and other countries, Chris Power has come to understand that there will always be some differences in the production process but a Director’s decisions always elevate any shortcomings. Ultimate Tag is already being developed for a number of other countries with Australia approaching a version most quickly. As for Power, mid 2021 will find him at the helm and direct The Masked Dancer for ITV.
He communicates, “I was booked to do the American version of the show last April 2020 but unfortunately because of Covid the show was cancelled and it was not possible for me to travel to the States. I was over the moon when I got the call from Claire Horton the exec producer to see if I would like to direct the UK version. I can’t wait to get started!”