With Secrets and Lies, Vera Drake and Mr Turner among the films in his back catalogue, Mike Leigh has become one of Britain’s best-loved and most internationally renowned directors.
Leigh is well known for his collaborative working process, which involves actors at the earliest stage of the film’s production. In this clip, he explains why he asks actors to think about people they know in real life to help form fictional characters, improvising and rehearsing for several weeks before shooting begins.
“If you’re talking about getting to the emotional core of things, then I think you have to dig deep, and then distill it and organise it and then let it fly,” he says. Watch the video above to find out more.
The Art of Directing with Mike Leigh airs on BBC World News at 02:30 and 08:30 (GMT) on Sat 2 Dec and 14:30 and 21:30 (GMT) on Sun 3 Dec. Check the schedule for details.
If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.
And if you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called “If You Only Read 6 Things This Week”. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Capital and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.