The blog was a series of video interviews with Milan Cheylov.
Directing an episode of 24 -- or, in the case of our show, two episodes simultaneously -- is one of the greatest tests of creative strength. Fortunately, 24 has had a team of fantastic directors at the helm.
Shauna and I had the chance to sit down with one of our directors, Milan Cheylov. Before becoming a director, Milan was once an actor, so he brings a unique perspective to his work, enhancing the emotional nature of every scene he directs.
What was the atmosphere like on set when shooting Renee’s death?
- Shauna McGarry: What was the atmosphere like on those days? You had a closed set... can you describe what that means?
- Milan Cheylov: Yeah, we always have a closed set for things like that; for those emotional scenes. Things are very tense, things are very focused. Tense in a good way where we are all focused on doing the best we can and any distraction would be unwise at that time. We're dealing with huge emotions and its just like when you go to a concert - you don't expect them to play amongst the noise and the ruckus, actors have the same respect and the same focus when they're playing their "concerts".
Several of the actors have told us that the emotions they have to play are almost always huge. How do you approach these highly emotional scenes as a director?
- Milan Cheylov: It's melodrama at its best, and that's become a negative term but I don't think it should be. This is heightened drama, this is larger than life, because none of us go through a day like Jack Bauer, like Jack Bauer does every year. That being said, it's fun to explore the emotions of this heightened drama. I love and I applaud shows like the "Mad Men" that deal with smaller dramas within ordinary lives. This is extraordinary drama within an extraordinary life - Jack Bauer's. We don't bunk the ball, we hit it hard every week. Sometimes you're going to strike out and that's just the way it is. But the intent of the show is always intense, it's always larger than life, and part of the challenge of a director is to keep the actors true, and yet keeping it honest and keeping it "real". However I'm not interested in playing an actor "real". We always say "I believed an actor in that role" or "that seemed real". That to me is just the start of it. I mean, it's supposed to be real, you're an actor for God's sake. It's supposed to be honest and true and all those things. What about being exciting? What about being entertaining? Lets go beyond just being real and being true to life. I can see that any day, I can look out the window and see that. What I want when I sit and watch a show or go and see a film is something larger than life, something bigger than my mundane little existence.
What has been the biggest challenge this season?
- Milan Cheylov: One of the really fun things this year was how do you take one great city and recreate it in another great city? Obviously we've shot most of the area in LA, and its been a particular challenge to make it seem like this season was all shot in New York. I think we've been clever in doing so and I think we've succeeded, but the viewers will have to answer that. That's been really a lot of fun to try to hide palm trees and make it appear like we're in Manhattan.
What are the biggest hurdles a director faces on 24?
- Milan Cheylov: 24 is, in my opinion, the greatest action suspense drama show in the history of TV, and I say that proudly and modestly because I played some small part at the end but many people did the dogwork long before I got here and made sure it was taken to that exhaulted place. That being said, the action is second to none. We do it for far less money and far fewer days than films do. There are many films that don't even approach what we do on a week in, week out basis. We do it much more quickly and much more cost-effectively. We have extremely experienced and extremely talented crew and working with them is always great fun and always a great challenge to try and solve the puzzle of "how do we compete with the James Bonds and the Jason Bournes week in week out on a fraction of their budget and without any time?" I think we've done remarkably well on that in the eight years we've been on air and I'm proud of that.