"John Badham On Directing - 2nd Edition:
Notes from the Set of Saturday Night Fever, War Games, and More"
Soon after the 1976 release of his directorial debut The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings, John Badham began to ponder his next move. In the wake of his Negro league baseball comedy doing so-so business at the box office, Badham wondered whether he would need to return to directing episodic TV. Then came the offer that would forever change his career. Tommy producer Robert Stigwood was weeks away from shooting his latest music-driven drama, and he needed a director as he had just fired Rocky’s John G. Avildsen. Badham accepted Stigwood’s offer and the rest is Hollywood history. Directed by Badham with a rawness still felt today, Saturday Night Fever became a commercial smash and a pop cultural phenomenon in part thanks to Bee Gees going disco and John Travolta showing is slick moves as king of the dancefloor Tony Manero. Badham would then go on to direct Dracula, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Blue Thunder, WarGames, American Flyers, Short Circuit, Stakeout, Bird on a Wire, The Hard Way, Point of No Return, Another Stakeout, Drop Zone, Nick of Time, and Incognito. After directing several TV movies, including 1999’s The Jack Bulland 2004’s Evel Knievel, Badham returned to episodic TV in 2003. Badham chronicles his experiences and the hard lesson he learned as a director for hire on a Season 2 episode of The Shield in the second edition of “John Badham On Directing: Notes from the Set of Saturday Night Fever, War Games, and More,” which is now available in bookstores and online. Expressed through anecdotes and observations, “John Badham On Directing” provides personal advice to up-and-coming and experienced directors on generating a production checklist, establishing an actor’s trust, techniques for shooting action and suspense, and surviving episodic TV. While he has not directed a theatrical release since 1997’s Incognito, Badham spent 15 years from 2003 to 2018 directing episodes of such TV shows as Heroes, Crossing Jordan, Psych, Men in Trees, In Plain Sight, Criminal Minds, Nikita, Supernatural, 12 Monkeys, Arrow,and Siren. Badham also teaches intermediate and advanced directing at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in California.
Note: This legacy interview with John Badham was conducted before Spyglass Media Group announced it is developing a remake of Short Circuit.
Aired: Dec. 10, 2020.