Name a genre, and John Badham can tell you tales about it. He mixed the musical with incisive social observation in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER — arguably the only disco movie worthy of being watched as serious film — dealt in the worlds of speculative fiction with such cautionary tales as WARGAMES, and has notched his action creds with everything running from BLUE THUNDER all the way up to TV’s NIKITA. All through, he’s worked with stars ranging from John Travolta, Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson and Bridget Fonda. Bottom line: When the guy talks about the craft of filmmaking, you know it comes from experience.
Which is a good thing, because Badham has just released a new book, John Badham on Directing: Notes from the Sets of Saturday Night Fever, War Games, and More. In it, he draws on forty plus years in the industry to provide budding filmmakers with practical tips on working with actors, staging action scenes, and making sure that the film playing in their heads finds its way onto the screen as accurately as possible. At the same time, the book is so chock-full of anecdotes and insights — not just from Badham, but also from such colleagues as Steven Soderbergh and Oliver Stone — that even those not planning a career behind the lens will want to check it out for its compelling glimpse behind-the-scenes.
Badham was kind enough to sit down with us, and we got his thoughts on some of his classic films, on taking advantage of the medium’s technical advances, on the difference between directing for feature films and for TV, and on the motivations for putting this book together. Click on the player to hear the show.