(photo credit: PR)
Who haven't heard of Asfur, Ramzur, Zaguri Imperia? Most chances are you've at least watched them, if not gotten addicted to them. How about the recent reality cooking show Hatzilu ani lo yodea levashel? Do you know what they have in common? Saar, Rani Saar. Saar has directed many projects in a lot of different genres, from children's series to documentary, reality TV to high quality drama, one thing's for sure – if you want a hit show, Rani is your guy.
When I asked how it all started, Rani tells me he doesn't remember directing to always be the dream, even though his father was one of the founders of Israeli Broadcasting Authority (רשות השידור) and watching his dad on TV was an everyday matter, he had plans to go study design at Bezalel. Right before the beginning of the school year he changed his mind and decided to go study film in Tel Aviv university, plus, it was really close to his house, "it was right there", he says. But when he found his old yearbook it said that he was always carrying around a camera, so it was probably always there.
During film school, Rani's best friend was Oded Menashe, who was a big Arutz Hayeladim star at that time. He told him about a directing job opening at the channel, which brought him into 7 years of working there as a director, at the channel's golden years. The kids' shows started his way with skits, which made their way to the adult's world with Ktzarim, Kapiot and Gomrot holchot. He was one of the first ones to bring the Doco-reality genre to Israel with the hilarious Double date, and was also a part of the first Israeli reality show Kchi oti Sharon, Exit "where we casted an anonymous guy called Ofer Shechter", and many more. He got into the world of drama with the telenovela Hasufim, later on Asfur, and the rest is history.
"I loved working on Asfur, I think it marked a really important point in Israeli television, because it brought new heroes to the screen, which are not the best or the prettiest, not the classic heroes. It dealt with subjects that were not so common in Israeli television until then, like sex, drugs and violence. It seemed almost impossible to do on paper, because usually daily dramas are all filmed inside a studio, and I really wanted our set to be outside, which meant we were depended on daylight and weather, that wasn't done before and it was a really big challenge. We had to film 50 episodes in 50 days, and made it in 48. That was amazing", says Rani.
After Asfur received such great success, Rani came to realize that there is a lot more to it than time and budget, and he came up with this term – Glow Budget – a project that looks glamorous in spite of the low production budget, "I understood I could make the very best of a shooting day by empowering the cast and crew, team work could be a powerful thing". Rani tells me "I understood that if you spend most of your waking hours on a set, you might as well have fun while doing it. As soon as I realized how much power I have as a director, which means more than deciding on how and what needs to be done, I understood I have a responsibility for the mood on the set. When I am stressed out and nervous, everyone else will also feel the same. When I was aware of that, I was aiming for a specific atmosphere on set".
When I ask how he sees a director's job, Rani says "A television show is like a philharmonic orchestra, everyone plays their part of a piece someone else wrote, and one person conducts it all. When a conductor gives his orchestra a sign, he doesn't tell the saxophone how to play, or show the violin players where to put their fingers, he just gives them an idea of the rhythm and nature. That's how I see the director's job. I tell the people that are working with me what's my vision, and then everyone takes it where they feel is right. A director should not tell people what to do, he should give them direction, direct them. That way everyone feels like it is their own creation, so they take responsibility and give everything they've got". And the outcome? "It's amazing how great it works. One of the popular feedbacks for Asfur was that you could tell how much fun we were having. It's not like you can see what's going on behind the scenes, but you can feel the vibe, and that only happens when people are really having fun on set".
When I ask if Hollywood is the dream, he says that is does sound amazing, but that he couldn't stay away from his 10 year old for too long, and when we talk about future plans, Rani is full of ideas "I have thought of three different TV series, a play and a feature".
I guess that keeping your values can only make your life choices better ones. I can't wait for the next show (or play or a feature) and I'm sure you can't, either.