DDI Lab NY What Story Are You Telling

What Story Are You Telling?

November 2, 2019 A DGA Director Development Initiative Interactive lab in New York

On November 2, the DGA Director Development Initiative held its second interactive lab of 2019 on the East Coast. DGA members seeking ways to better prepare for their next episodic directing assignment gathered at the Guild’s New York offices for What Story Are You Telling?, an event where members participated in an experiential workshop with DGA Fifth Vice President Bethany Rooney (Bull) and Directors Mary Lou Belli (NCIS: New Orleans) and David McCoy Barrett (Blue Bloods).

The event kicked off with a welcome by DGA Assistant Executive Director Michael Berger, who spoke briefly about the program before turning things over to Rooney, who also serves as the Co-Chair of the DGA Diversity Task Force.

Rooney then served as both participant and moderator of a conversation with Belli and Barrett, where they each gave insight into their personal processes for digging deep into story and explained to the participants what must be achieved in each scene in order to make the whole story come alive. The conversation also covered topics such as why storytelling is the crux of a director’s job, how a director goes about discovering the heart of the story and how that knowledge is used during prep and shooting.

Following the discussion, the assembly broke into pods where the panelists acted as moderators used a sample script to explore tools for finding the story being told by each scene. They also explored subjects such as: do directors diagram a script, finding the intention and the obstacle, picking an iconic image and establishing themes and threads in the storyline. At the end of the day, the pods reassembled and viewed the completed scenes from the sample script as they were originally broadcast.

You can watch video highlights from the discussion in the gallery below.
DGA members, please log in to view the full discussion from this event.

Members can watch the full video from Director Development Initiative events
by clicking here.


Bethany RooneyBethany Rooney (moderator)
Rooney has directed over 200 hours of primetime television including critically acclaimed series such as Scandal, Arrow and Nashville, and classics including Desperate Housewives, Ally McBeal and Brothers & Sisters. She began her directing career on the 1980s iconic television show, St. Elsewhere, where she also served as an associate producer. In addition to co-authoring three books on directing with Mary Lou Belli, Rooney has taught directing at UCLA Extension and numerous acting workshops in the LA area. A DGA member since 1985, Rooney currently serves as the DGA Fifth Vice President and is a member of the Western Directors Council and a Co-Chair of the DGA Diversity Task Force. She also previously served as an alternate on the DGA National Board, and a co-chair of the Guild’s Women’s Steering Committee.

Mary Lou BelliMary Lou Belli
A two-time Emmy Award-winning director with over twenty years of experience, Belli’s credits include Black Lightning, Station 19; NCIS: New Orleans; Pitch; Monk; Famous in Love; Devious Maids; The Quad; American Woman; Hart of Dixie; Wizards of Waverly Place; Sister, Sister; Girlfriends and The Game. Formerly a co-chair of the DGA Women’s Steering Committee, she currently serves as an alternate on the DGA National Board, an alternate on the Western Directors Council and is a member of the DGA PAC Leadership Council. Belli has been a DGA member since 1987.


David McCoy BarrettDavid McCoy Barrett
Barrett is a television/film director and producer who has directed over 100 episodes for more than 40 different television series. Presently a recurring director and co-executive producer of the hit CBS crime drama Blue Bloods, Barrett’s filmography also includes episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, Fear the Walking Dead, Zoo, Under the Dome, Arrow, The Mentalist, Once Upon a Time, Castle, NCIS: Los Angeles, Cold Case, Smallville, Fastlane, FreakyLinks and Pacific Blue. Barrett has been a DGA member since 1998.

About the Director Development Initiative:

The Director Development Initiative is designed to provide current information on the Director’s craft in order to further the Guild’s mission to increase the diversity of the industry.


photos by Marcie Revens

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