Making the Transition to Episodic Television

Making the Transition to Episodic Television

October 29, 2019 An Eastern Directors Council Focus on Women Committee Panel Discussion

On October 29, DGA members gathered in the Guild’s New York Boardroom for a panel discussion on how DGA director-members who began their directing careers outside of episodic television successfully made the transition into that arena. Hosted by the Eastern Directors Council Focus on Women Committee, Making the Transition to Episodic Television featured an exploration of the subject with Directors Leslye Headland (Almost Family, Russian Doll), Deborah Kampmeier (Queen Sugar, Cherish the Day), Nicole Kassell (Watchmen, Westworld) and Gillian Robespierre (Mrs. Fletcher, Crashing), all of whom have been able to make this jump.

In a conversation moderated by Eastern Directors Council Focus on Women Committee Chair/Director Maggie Greenwald (Madam Secretary, Nashville), the panel discussed their career paths, the challenges of making the move, and gave advice to new members looking to break into that part of the industry during the open forum section of the event.



Maggie Greenwald Director Maggie Greenwald (Moderator)
Greenwald’s filmography includes the features Sophie and the Rising Sun, The Ballad of Little Jo and the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury prize-nominated features Songcatcher and The Kill-Off. She also helmed the movies for television What Makes a Family, Tempted, Comfort and Joy, Get a Clue, Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane and Good Morning, Killer. Her recent forays into episodic directing include episodes of Madam Secretary and Nashville. A DGA member since 2000, Greenwald is a member of the Eastern Directors Council and Chairs the Focus on Women Committee. She is also an alternate of the DGA National Board.

Leslye HeadlandDirector Leslye Headland
Headland made her directorial film debut with the feature Bachelorette, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. She also wrote and directed the feature Sleeping with Other People. In addition to writing/directing episodic pilots for HBO, ABC and NBC, her episodic directing credits include Terriers, Blunt Talk, SMILF, Black Monday, Heathers and Russian Doll. Headland has been a DGA member since 2014.

Deborah Kampmeier Director Deborah Kampmeier
Kampmeier’s debut feature, Virgin, was nominated for two 2004 Independent Spirit Awards. Her second feature, Hounddog, was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. She broke into the world of episodic television on the series Queen Sugar in 2019 and followed immediately with two episodes of the upcoming series Cherish the Day. A DGA member since 2019, Kampmeier is currently in post-production on her fourth feature, Tape.

Nicole KassellDirector Nicole Kassell
While still at NYU, Kassell took home a DGA Student Film Award for her short, Jamie. Her debut feature, The Woodsman, earned her nominations for Breakthrough Director at the Gotham Awards and Best First Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards. Her episodic television resume includes multiple episodes of critically-praised series such as Westworld, The Leftovers, The Killing, The Americans and Rectify. She recently directed the pilot for HBO’s highly anticipated Watchmen. A DGA member since 2006, Kassell serves as a member of the DGA’s National Board, the Television Creative Rights Committee, the Eastern Director’s Council and its Focus on Women Committee.


Gillian RobespierreDirector Gillian Robespierre
Robespierre's first feature, Obvious Child, premiered at Sundance in 2014 and earned her a nod for the year’s “Best Discovery” on iTunes and she won Best Directorial Debut from the National Board of Review. Her second feature, Landline, premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Her television directing resume includes episodes of Casual, Shrill, Silicon Valley, Crashing and Mrs. Fletcher. She also recently helmed the Netflix Comedy Special/Documentary Jenny Slate: Stage Fright. Robespierre has been a DGA member since 2015.

About the Committee:

In addition to Chairperson Maggie Greenwald, the Eastern Directors Council’s Focus on Women Committee members are Directors Marilyn Agrelo, Laura Belsey, Sarah Brooke, Jan Eliasberg, Nicole Kassell, Annetta Marion, Martha Mitchell, Sarah Pirozek, Lara Shapiro, Shari Springer-Berman, Caroline Suh and Vivien Vitolo. The Committee would like to remind members that while their events are designed with a special focus on women directors, all DGA members are welcome to attend.


Pictures & Video

photos by Marcie Revens

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