Lessons I Learned from Jack Bauer —24 TV Series.

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Earlier this year my wife and I were in a difficult position… We couldn’t find a TV series to watch that matched up to our post Breaking Bad addiction. Now, 24 doesn’t compare to Breaking Bad at all —they are two different types of TV Dramas — but since all the seasons were on Amazon Prime and since my wife had never seen any of them we started with season 1. She automatically became addicted to it. I had seen the first few seasons years ago and once we passed those seasons I also became a “Jack Bauer Fan Boy.”

Let’s be clear.

24 is not shot a cinematic drama. It’s not 100% realistic. 24 is pure action/drama entertainment. It has an entertaining story dealing with American Politics, terrorism and war. It also has a lot of gun fights, car chases, and gore. What else would you want to watch while drinking a cold beer and eating pizza?

Here’s a quick summary.

Jack Bauer is pretty much a superhero. He’s always fighting for the lives of innocent people and the United States as a country. The president doesn’t have a red phone to pick up and call him — but has his cell and frequently calls him and knows him by name. Jack is a military vet, experienced field op and head of CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit).

Every Season is 1 Day of Jack’s life.. In Real Time.

The whole concept of 24 is absolutely brilliant. Every episode starts with a time clock, reappears during commercial breaks and then the episode ends with the hour ending. For example, a season will start at 12a and end at 12a the next day.

There is always a threat — Jack’s job is to stop it. At all costs.

Each season starts with a simple threat on the American people — and eventually turns into a cycle of complicated threats, conspiracies and double agents. Jack doesn’t waste time and will do anything to get to the bottom of the crisis. I remember a scene while watching the first season — While in the field Jack kills someone and needs to identify the person quickly. He then cuts off the guy’s thumb and takes it to his car to scan — In another season Jack needs to get a SIM card from a terrorist, turns out the guy had swallowed it. Jack doens’t hesitate to cut open the guy and reach into his stomach to retrieve the SIM card. Jack has the guts to do whatever it takes. Even while getting guts all over his hands.

Overall — Things happen that couldn’t happen in real life.

I can’t recall how many times someone gets shot — badly injured and in a few hours is back to work and helping save the United States. So many things happen that are unrealistic — yet purely entertaining.

Things I learned from watching 24

— you can create a style or look for a story and stick with it.

Anyone who has watched just 1 season can recall the shaky ENG-news camera style, the zoom ins and outs and the intense color grading — very blue outside — yellow indoors (pretty much all over the board #whitebalance).

When we finally started the final Season “24:Live Another Day” I was very excited to see what 4 years would have done to a TV series. I was expecting a lot more Cinematic approach towards the show and a different feel.

To my surprise the style was the same. The drama was the same. Pretty much — another day another crisis.

Like I said about the style of “events occuring in real time” It’s genius and addicting to watch.

Always have a plan B.

Another thing you can learn from watching Jack Bauer is to always have a plan b. When it comes to the film industry/editing or even web development: A backup is a simple and easy contingency plan. Even though Jack is fighting crimes and killing the bad guys — in real life you have to have a backup incase a hard drive decides to fail or a server goes down. Even on set having a second camera could save tons of money of the crew, location, talent ...ect.

People fall in love with Characters. Not Drama.

When writing a story or shooting a narrative you have to develop the characters. If someone died in 24 that didn’t have a lot of character development Yesi and I would say something to the extent of — “yeah we knew so-and-so would die”, or “oh well” — whereas when a main character would be revealed as a double agent or die from a sniper — our jaws would drop and we would say something like, “I didn’t see that coming.

In Conclusion.

In your free time order a pizza, get a drink and watch something. Whether it’s for pure mindless entertainment or a murder mystery — learn from it. Think about why it kept you from clicking stop or what caused you to say, “Oh dang!” Watching movies & TV shows is an investment into becoming a great filmmaker — seeing what’s out there and learning from it.

Until next time,

— AB

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