On June 16, the DGA Special Projects Committee presented the seventh installment in its Directing for Professionals series with The Craft of Directing Episodic TV - The Toughest Gig in Town! Members gathered in the Los Angeles Headquarters Boardroom to tap the wisdom of a panel of experts with decades of experience in the genre.
The panelists were Bob Butler, who began directing in 1960 with an episode of Hennesey and helmed many classic television series including Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Gunsmoke, Kung Fu, Remington Steele, Moonlighting, and Hill Street Blues over the next forty years; Jeffrey Reiner, the Executive Producer and Supervising Director on the first three seasons of NBC's Emmy Award-winning Friday Night Lights and whose other credits include Trauma, The Event, Awake, Caprica and the upcoming series Do No Harm; Bethany Rooney, who has directed over 150 episodes of prime-time network shows including Revenge, Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters, Castle and Private Practice and has taught directing at UCLA Extension; and Oz Scott, whose credits span hundreds of episodes of series such as CSI: NY, The District, NCIS, Are We There Yet?, Chicago Hope, The Cosby Show, The Jeffersons and Hill Street Blues. The seminar was moderated by DGA Special Projects Directing for Professionals Subcommittee Chair Arthur A. Seidelman, who has directed 23 different episodic television series including Hill Street Blues; Magnum P.I.; Murder, She Wrote; L.A. Law and Trapper John, M.D.
Following an introduction by Seidelman, the session began with a brief presentation by Rooney of her “Cheat Sheet,” a tool she uses to approach directing episodic television that can be found in her book, Directors Tell the Story: Master the Craft of Television and Film Directing, co-written by Director Mary Lou Belli.
Then the audience was able to learn various aspects of the process during the two-hour panel discussion that covered a variety of subjects including: how to survive shooting as many as 11 pages per day; how to work with actors and crew members who've been on the show much longer than you; and how to work productively with writer/producers. The final hour of the seminar was devoted to a Q&A so audience members could pick the brains of the panel.
The Directing for Pros series is designed to keep members up-to-date on developments in the industry and deepen their understanding of their craft. Workshops and seminars on various film and television related topics are offered throughout the year.