About Karen

Karen McGann is a BAFTA nominated producer/director, with an impressive range of high profile art and history documentary credits for the BBC and Independents.

Intro

KM Karen McGann : Director and Producer : Art and history documentaries for BBC and Independents.
Karen McGann : Director and Producer : Art and history documentaries for BBC and Independents.
Showreel

Showreel

Karen McGann is a BAFTA nominated producer/director, with a wide range of high profile art and history documentary credits for the BBC and Independents.

With a distinctive visual style, Karen’s programmes have been praised for their fresh, innovative approach to well-known subjects in the art and history genres.

Karen is particularly skilled at directing onscreen talent and has worked with the UK’s best presenters of arts and culture programming including Andrew Graham-Dixon, David Dimbleby, and Kirsty Wark.

Her ambition is to break into narrative film making and she is currently developing a number of scripts including a short film due to shoot in Autumn 2013.

Nominations

BAFTAs

Clients

BBC Wall to Wall Zodiak Media

Work

Art of Russia

Art of Russia Opening scene

This is one of my all time favourite sequences. I wanted something evocative to open this series on Russian art, that introduced people to the incredible landscape and fascinating people of Russia. The concept I came up with was inspired by classic westerns, where the hero enters a bar in a frontier town under the gaze of wary locals. Here presenter Andrew Graham wanders through a snowy russian wilderness, before seeking a vodka in a bar on the edge of a remote Russian town.

Shot for shot, in my opinion it captures the enigmatic and inscrutable quality of the Russian people and the immense beauty of the Russian landscape. Cameraman Mike Garner did an amazing job in helping to realise the concept.

Sicily Unpacked

Sicily Unpacked Vittorio’s restaurant

Vittorio was never meant to feature in Sicily Unpacked, but once I met him I knew he had to become part of the series. An old friend of Giorgio’s, he suggested we stop at his restaurant for lunch during one of our many coastal drives from the Noto Valley to Palermo. It was clear from the moment I set eyes on him, he was a tremendous character - his appetite for life and attitude were pure Sicily!

Seeing what a great rapport Giorgio and Vittorio had, I decided to open the series with this sequence. Giorgio brings Andrew to Vittorio’s place. Vittorio then takes them to the sea market at Sciacca to buy fish for the evening’s meal. Colourful, unpretentious and theatrical - it was a joy to film and for the perfect way to kickstart their journey through the island

Art of Germany

Art of Germany Kathe Kollwitz

Kathe Kollwitz’s art is dark, brooding and melancholy, inspired by the poverty and hardship she saw around her in 19th century Berlin. I wanted a suitably dark and gritty treatment for her story and a colour palette to compliment her monochrome prints and woodcuts. I wanted the imagery around Kollwitz’s art to give you an emotional and visual context for the work so I decided to shoot at night in the old mansion blocks in Prenzlauer. Using only available light from street lamps and a single battery light, cameraman Will Pugh shot the sequence on 5D to achieve the beautiful shallow depth of field that characterises the sequence.

Sicily Unpacked

Sicily Unpacked Roman Villa

I'd seen still photographs which showed how incredible the mosaic floors at the Villa Casale Romano were, but with no recce and no jibs allowed inside the UNESCO protected world heritage site, it was a real challenge to show how beatuiful and impressive the Villa floors were without revealing the scaffolding and plastic coverings surrounding them! Cameraman Will Pugh did a great job, shooting handheld from a step ladder and rigging a 5D for some of the wide top shots.

Seven Ages of Britain

Seven Ages of Britain The Murder of Thomas Beckett

Violent and dramatic, I wanted to communicate how bloody the history of England could be, so chose to shoot this sequence in Canterbury cathedral at night. Ben Wheeler lit the space beautifully to capture the sinister and ominous atmosphere I wanted to create. David Dimbleby's dramatic telling of Thomas Beckett's brutal murder at the hands of the king's knights was perfectly pitched and a great way to set the tone of the episode.

WH Auden: The Addictions of Sin

WH Auden: The Addictions of Sin Later Life

I made this drama-documentary on WH Auden in 2007 to mark the centenery of his birth. The brief was to create a portrait of the famous poet's life, using only his own words. I loved the challenge of constructing a life from Auden's diaries, letters, poetry and archive and in the end found it incredibly liberating.The result was a highly stylised dramatisation with actor Kenneth Cranham in the character of the celebrated poet. In this clip Auden's feelings about encroaching old age are captured in an extract from a letter to an old friend.

Art of Russia

Art of Russia Moscow Metro

When you embark on an exploration of the art of a nation, the historical and social story of the country is just as important as the art. Andrew wanted to explore the art and decoration of several of the Moscow metro stations and weave that into a narrative of Stalin's reign of terror in Russia and its impact. For me, both narratively and visually it made sense to use the metro itself as a kind of "time machine".

Andrew's PTC impressions on the art were done organically and unscripted, and I used his journeys from station to station as a means of leaping forward in time to the next stage in the story. The metro itself became a microcosm of early 20th century Russian history, from the early hope and optimism that characterised Stalinist Russia, through the devastation of WW2 and the death knell of his tyrannical rule. I'm particularly pleased with the sound design on this sequence, where the sound of the trains screeching to a halt, thrusts you forward into another journey through time!

WH Auden: The Addictions of Sin

WH Auden: The Addictions of Sin Auden’s Love

I made this drama-documentary on WH Auden in 2007 to mark the centenery of his birth. The brief was to create a portrait of the famous poet's life, using only his own words. I loved the challenge of constructing a life from Auden's diaries, letters, poetry and archive and in the end found it incredibly liberating. The result was a highly stylised dramatisation with actor Kenneth Cranham in the character of the celebrated poet. In this clip I combined radio archive of Auden to provide the background for a tender reading of "Thanksgiving for a Habitat" by Kenneth Cranham. The poem was inspired by the poet's Austrian home, where he spent long periods of time with his partner Chester Kalman in the 1960s.

The Culture Show

The Culture Show Michael Palin Special - Opening Scene

Intelligent, knowledgable and obviously funny, Michael Palin was great fun to work with. I was asked to make this Culture Show Special based on his memories of being part of Monty Python in the 1970s. A prolific diary writer, we decided to start the episode with a wry take on his diary writing ritual.

How Pop Songs Work

How Pop Songs Work Bohemian Rhapsody

I was asked to make a documentary for BBC4 that would deconstruct the techniques of pop music. With an extremely tight budget and turnaround time, I decided to construct it in the style of a masterclass, with conductor Charles Hazlewood breaking down the mechanics of different pop songs and analysing what makes them work. In this clip, the final sequence of the programme, Charles analyses Bohemian Rhapsody - a song that proves sometimes its better to throw out the rule book!

about

View more videos on my Vimeo Channel View more videos on my Vimeo Channel

Karen McGann : Director and Producer : Art and history documentaries for BBC and Independents.

Karen McGann is a BAFTA nominated producer/director, with a wide range of high profile art and history documentary credits for the BBC and Independents.

With a distinctive visual style, Karen’s programmes have been praised for their fresh, innovative approach to well-known subjects in the art and history genres.

Karen is particularly skilled at directing onscreen talent and has worked with the UK’s best presenters of arts and culture programming including Andrew Graham-Dixon, David Dimbleby, and Kirsty Wark.

Her ambition is to break into narrative film making and she is currently developing a number of scripts including a short film due to shoot in Autumn 2013.

Karen shoots single and multi-camera on HD and film, with extensive experience in filming both internationally and across the UK. She is also a confident self-shooter across a variety of cameras and formats.

Based in London, her production company is Icarus Pictures Ltd.

contact

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Send me a message

karen@karenmcgann.com
+ 44 (0)7525 429 028
Skype Me : kmcg75

For my CV or additional clips please contact me.

A larger collection of clips can be found on my Vimeo Channel.

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