What I'm watching: award-winning director Lee Hirsch

Choosing what to watch is a mix of hype and accidental discoveries for the director of documentaries such as 'Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony' and 'Bully'

14 January 2018 - 00:00 By Tymon Smith

The first show I remember binge-watching was The West Wing. I had a couple of seasons on DVD - throughout the presidency of George W Bush I turned to the show as a refuge from the daily news. Goes without saying I am going through the seasons again thanks to Trump. What got me hooked was the writing and the cast and that I am a political junkie. I loved seeing these super-smart idealists, in power, struggling to get shit done.
Currently I've been into some of the miniseries like Olive Kitteridge, Pretty Little Lies and The Night Of. I absolutely loved season one of Stranger Things and I am holding off on Game of Thrones till I have some time to really go for it. I am really bad at getting super into something and then trying to save the end for later - like keeping a good bottle of wine for the perfect moment. I have two episodes left of Mad Men.
Choosing what to watch is a mix of hype and accidental discoveries. I try to watch premiers from trusted producers and see if I want to invest my time.
It's the golden age for lots of filmmakers to have so many new funding partners and opportunities. And there is a level of risk that people are willing to take both on the creative side and the network - which is awesome. Take a look at the recent launch of Errol Morris's Wormwood, a total genre bend between doc and feature. What will be really cool is when new talent gets to take such risks.
We still have a long way to go in terms of diversity, talent and story, but I think Netflix is helping create opportunities for global series to cross-pollinate.
I am working on a documentary series about reinventing the high-school model for the 21st century. And my next feature project is a film about Bra Hugh Masekela's childhood, which is a tremendous honour and I couldn't be more excited about returning to South Africa from the US!

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