Directing UK coverage of the 2020 US Elections.

6 minute read

Masterclass Series 

What is creativity? “Creativity is intelligence having fun” said Albert Einstein. To some degree, this statement can resonate with us; using our intelligence to think outside of the box and create something new. As marketers, this is a significant pillar to our success. It is important to have different viewpoints from peers that work in creative roles but in a different field, in order to gain perspective and take inspiration from each other’s work. That is why we are introducing a Masterclass series; where we as a company talk with our peers and share our experiences working on fun but intimidating projects, in hope to gain a professional and inspirational reset. 

David Gilman 

Our first guest on this series is a very creative individual, one who has extensive experience in directing electoral coverage. He directed Sky’s coverage of the 2017 UK elections in a production called Battle For Number 10, and more notably the coverage for the 2020 US elections, a benchmark for election television. He is David Gilman, currently the senior director at Sky News and a good friend of Bareska. David has spent 16 ½ years at Sky as a director after coming from ITV, where he worked with Stuart Campbell, CEO at Bareska. 

David wanted to work in television since he was 14. He managed to get a training course on TVAM, the predecessors of Good Morning Britain, where he gained hands on experience working on set as a technical operator: “here’s the camera, here’s the focus, here’s the zoom… right, okay bye!”. David says that this was “the best way I could have started”, as it gave him the opportunity to learn about studio cameras, editing, VT operation, and vision mixing. This is where David’s love for putting things all together started. 

Having gained sufficient experience in TV and understanding the difficulties his team members faced, David progressed to ITV Local where he developed his skills in vision mixing and was able to direct short bulletins. At age 27, David became the senior director at ITV Meridian and shortly after, began his role at Sky. 

Working at Sky 

Even though Sky is a big company, it is run as a startup in the respect that any good idea has the potential to end up on television. David says, “even though we’re a different sized team, the ethos is the same […] no idea is a rubbish idea”. Good ideas get acknowledged regardless of the employee’s position. 

Is this something that would work at your workplace? Whereby your team actively share their ideas on possible business developments or client opportunities? Including a more transparent and inclusive workflow that allows employees to share ideas can boost morale, engagement and employee efficiency.  

2020 US Elections 

Working in a creative space is fun and exciting, however it is coupled with challenges, such as creating innovative ideas and conceptualizing big projects. For David, a fun but challenging project he directed was the 2020 US elections, arguably a significant benchmark for electoral coverage. We say this because the Sky News coverage for the 2020 US elections completely plunges the viewer into the race for presidency. Through the integration of flush infographics and live updates on the success of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the viewer became well-informed and engaged with the election. 


David got involved in the preparation and making of the US election 5 months before it was planned to go on air. With limited time, it proved difficult to conceptualise the project and find their unique selling point (USP). However, David and his team found that their USP would be the mass amount of data that was available to them, as Sky is owned by the American telecommunications conglomerate Comcast.  

This enabled David and his team to excel in aspects of the production that their competitors could not match. For example, their lower thirds were extremely comprehensive; not only showing votes by States but showing votes by gender, race and age. For UK viewers who have been following the news, this would prove to be an interesting insight into the US Presidential Election, as viewers could determine trends in the votes on their own accord. Today’s user is active and independent. Recognising that and adapting how you use resources to achieve your goals is an important skill.  

What to take from this Masterclass 

Working in a creative space is as rewarding as it is challenging. For David, the challenge was the short time frame he had to conceptualize the 2020 US elections, but the reward was raising the bar for electoral coverage. The main message to take from this article is to be creative. Continue thinking outside the box for new ideas and use your intelligence to refine them. Creativity is a very powerful asset in today’s world, and needs to be used correctly to achieve business goals.