EntertainmentNext Level Director Paul Newton of Next Level Chef

Next Level Director Paul Newton of Next Level Chef

  Somewhere amidst the creation of reality based competition programs, the viewing public became fascinated with the culinary experience. Perhaps no name has become as synonymous with this as Gordon Ramsay. The skill, the creativity, and of course the drama; they all make for exhilarating viewing. A huge part of the manifestation of this behind the camera is director Paul Newton who has collaborated with the famed chef on a number of productions. Most recently the pair have worked together on Next Level Chef. The focus of competition among different chefs is tried and true in this format and while it doesn’t seek reinvention, Next Level Chef capitalizes on the template and pushes its boundaries further than ever before. Known for his work on BAFTA Award–Winning productions like Love Island, Newton brings a creativity to Next Level Chef that nudges the format into a familiar yet modern iteration. This is riveting television for those fascinated by the unique and skilled excellence of the show’s participants.

Unscripted shows like Next Level Chef are not for professionals who are strict and precious when it comes to a storyline that can redirect at a moment’s notice. His history directing shows such as Big Brother and I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! gives evidence to Paul Newton’s particular strengths in this regard. The moments which take a drastic left turn on these types of productions lean heavily into the voice of a strong director who instantly recognizes the potential for these occurrences and how to best capture and shape them for the audience. 

  Opportunity comes with its own weight. The fact that the second season of Next Level Chef premiered immediately following the Superbowl meant a massive audience was seated at the table to embrace or reject the program. The knowledge of this placed immense pressure on Newton and his crew to deliver in a big way. The director communicates, “This episode would undoubtedly be the most-watched episode of Next Level Chef to date, and the stakes were high. I focused intently on making sure every shot was spot-on, every reaction captured, and the pacing kept viewers on the edge of their seats. I’m happy to say that the premiere episode turned out fantastic, setting a high bar for the rest of the entire season.” One of the most notable recurring parts of each episode of Next Level Chef is a continuous 45-minute cook across three levels known as “The Main Cook.” Overseeing this sequence which is filmed live across multiple levels is the closest to three-dimensional-chess that a director can undertake. Over the course of forty-five minutes, everything is shot in real time regardless of what might occur. “The Main Cook” demands that every angle on every level with every imaginable outcome is captured. There can be no second-takes. 

  The untold behind-the scenes competition is that of a storyteller challenging himself to create his own feast for the eyes and the mind in Next Level Chef. Paul Newton declares, “As a director, this show has everything. Yes, it’s in a studio, so it’s a controlled environment, but it also features a mix of non-scripted sequences with high-octane, high-pressure, unpredictable reality moments forming the backbone of the show. The challenge of filming all of this within a one-day period per episode is quite ambitious by TV standards, especially with so many moving parts to manage during the shoot. The Next Level Chef tower set is itself very unlike any other I’ve worked on in my career. It’s essentially a three-story, fully functional building with lift systems, three fully operational kitchens complete with extractors, mains gas, plumbing, drainage, and complete working fire suppression systems. And that’s before we even mention everything needed to make it a working TV set such as camera hides, two-way mirrors, an open-face front, and the myriads of hidden cameras, equipment, and cabling that is needed to make up a modern-day TV studio. I truly consider my work on this production as a career defining moment.”

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