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INSIDE RED: An interview with Mark Tonderai

Welcome to Inside Red, a series of exclusive interviews with actors, writers, directors and the other talented people who create the Red shows you love. Today we’re talking to Mark Tonderai, director of Harlan Coben’s The Five.


RED: What about The Five first attracted you to the project?


MARK: In order of preference. Nicola. Harlan. Danny. Nicola’s one of the best in the England and you want to work with the best. Harlan I had read and read and read. And Danny because I wanted to gloat at how much taller I am than him.


RED: You directed all ten episodes of this show, which is fairly uncommon. What advantages did this give you? What challenges did it present?


MARK: Advantages. You could colonize the work. Own it. Have a handle on it. The bad things? The sheer volume of work sometimes became insurmountable. At least it felt that way. It felt like I was climbing a mountain. 127 days is what I shot for. That’s a lot of shooting days!


RED: The Five has a slick, cinematic look to it. How did you develop the visual style of the show? What other films and TV shows influenced you?


MARK: If I’m honest it’s how I see the world. Acute angles. So it was about bringing that to the screen. My DOP Tico was the key with that. Lights a scene like he’s painting. The format helped too: 2.35, which gave me space within the frame. Cinema for me is a craft. Taking your time with a set up knowing you may only use 2 seconds of it. It’s not about just getting the coverage. Other shows? The Knick. Fargo. Seven. Point Blank. Ali. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Hannibal. Notice how a few of those are TV. That’s because what Brian Fuller did on Hannibal or what Noah Hawley is doing on Fargo… that shit’s cinematic.


RED: The music selections for the show are really cool and eclectic. What importance does music hold for you? How do you choose what songs to use?


MARK: Ah. Great question. Music is a massive part of my life. A good song dispels FEAR. Brings HOPE. Can raise a smile. So the right song with the sight image can be powerful! Really powerful! So it’s about choosing the right song. That’s the hard part. How do I choose them? Emotion. What emotion am I trying to illicit? I go for that and try and choose the song that way. The end credit songs are thematic reflections of the episode so those ones are easier.


RED: What TV are you currently watching and enjoying as a viewer?


MARK: Fargo is pretty special. Really is. I am shooting at the moment so it’s hard to watch but I just saw Joel Edgerton’s The Gift which I really liked. I watch Netflix a lot. The last season of House of Cards was really special. Their angles are amazing.

Two episodes of The Five broadcast on Sky 1 on Fridays at 9pm.