The 24 Director/Cinematographer discusses the future of Jack Bauer

As the cinematographer and director on the Fox hit 24, Rodney Charters is very much responsible for that show's look. He recently took that vision to the internet with the creation of The Rookie. Set in the brain of 24's surveillance center, CTU, this show features webisodes that follow new recruit Jason Blaine and the adventures he gets into. Charters recently sat down with us to discuss both The Rookie and 24.

Could you tell the readers who don't know what The Rookie is?

Related: Will Kiefer Sutherland Return as Jack Bauer in 24: Legacy?

Rodney Charters: The Rookie is essentially a pilot in a way, a spin off, from 24. It features a younger recruit, an intern, secret service agent in the CTU offices who... has to start from the bottom. When there's a crisis in the situation room he's sent out for coffee. Since it's the Rookie there's drama. On the way to get coffee he stumbles on a bank heist, and he has to go in, because he's a brave young man, and diffuse the situation and save the day. He can never really tell his office managers and so on that this is what has taken place. He has a Girl Friday called Angie at CTU who aids him and assists him in his endeavors.

Might we see an eventual spin off of The Rookie from the internet to the small screen?

Rodney Charters: As I understand it, it has that potential. That is not being ruled out. At the moment all parties are letting it play out the way it is. It is a joint venture for Fox and Unilever because Degree Men... are in CTU and nobody gets into CTU (laughs). When I heard that they were going to shoot in CTU I said, "Oh oh, okay... now this is serious." The wonderful thing is you can try out something like this without Fox having to spend any money at all, really. They were in fact paid to be in on it.

What can we expect from the next clip of webisodes titled "Mistaken Identity"?

Rodney Charters: It was more of an exterior shoot. It involves foreign powers and we had a wonderful time shooting and I can't tell you any more than that. I'm sorry (laughs).

Do you think Jason Blaine and Jack Bauer will ever team up?

Rodney Charters: The backstory, when we were casting for the role of Jason, after awhile we weren't seeming to get anywhere and I suddenly remembered that Officer Rooney who was played by Jeremy Ray Valdez (he plays The Rookie), on the submarine, in the last episode, 23, of Season 5. So there's a wonderful backstory for him. He was a young officer in the Submarine Corps who was trapped in the back of the submarine, being taught by Jack, he phones him on special phone... and Jack directs him on how to cut the throat of the Russian guys that are taking over the sub.

My feeling was that he already had the backstory for us. He was so enamored about what happened that he enlisted for Secret Service school and went away and became a Secret Service agent.

What's the difference between shooting these webisodes vs. an entire episode of 24? Is that different?

Rodney Charters: No, not at all, that's the fallacy. I think as the internet gets more powerful the images will get better. Even though we are shooting on HD and it's a wonderful experience to sit in front of a 70" Plasma and watch 24, it's a very filmic experience at that size, plenty of people are happy to watch it on their iPods. There is that dual nature of good drama, well told, is watchable anywhere. Your mind is what allows you to escape into the material and live the life that you're seeing portrayed. So no, the mandate was to make it exactly like 24. I didn't change our shooting style, our operators. I lit it the same way. I loaded our cameras the same way and essentially cut it the same way.

There might be more humor in The Rookie because even though Joel (Surnow; 24 creator) told me as I was walking out door, "Nobody smiles on The Rookie," I kinda wanted to slip in some of the humor that the writers put in. We're limited in our length, 7 minutes, but it's like short filmmaking. Nothing can be wasted. You have to do it once and do it cleanly and get out. Editingwise it changed things a little because we couldn't carry the real time aspect. There's dissolves, a little bit of jump cutting, because we just had to compress the time in order to get the story told.

Can you talk at all about what we might have in store for the rest of the season of 24? And if there is a Seventh Season what that might entail?

Rodney Charters: Well, Kiefer signed a three year deal. There's the strongest possibility of another season. People have mentioned that the idea of a 24/7 box set has a nice ring to it. I know that the fans would love Kiefer to stay Jack Bauer forever, but these things are life experiences and at some point we feel that he'd have to move on. The crew has been wonderful about living with this for so long. They've just been ecstatic to have a job like this for so long. It's on such a high caliber... and the fact that the quality has gotten better and we've gotten greater acceptance... the numbers keep rising, who knows?

I think there's a feature on one of those sets, certainly there's a script floating around that I think they'll spend another 12 months honing, it may go into production next summer. I don't know about the franchise of 24, there's a strong possibility that something this big could be cloned off in a way that the James Bond franchise... that people are comparing. Jack Bauer as a character could live on with other actors playing Jack or as The Rookie kind of spinoffs. The Rookie could play as a series if people were in love with it as much as they hopefully will be. That could become a series.

To view The Rookie please visit http://www.cturookie.com/.

Dont't forget to also check out: 24

Evan Jacobs