WSC Making the Jump

Best Practices: Moving into the Director’s Chair from the AD Team

September 22, 2020 A DGA Women's Steering Committee Virtual Event

On September 22 ahead of their online meeting, the Women’s Steering Committee (WSC) hosted the discussion, Best Practices: Moving into the Director’s Chair from the AD Team.

The event featured Directors Anya Adams (Fresh Off the Boat), Katy Garretson (Broke), Jessica Lowrey (Briarpatch), Linda Mendoza (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Angela Tortu (Diary of a Future President), all former ADs who successfully made the transition.

In a conversation moderated by Director Drew Rosenberg (Grey's Anatomy), the panelists covered positioning yourself to be a Director, relying on your team and learning from your experiences as an AD.

Adams described being vocal about where you want to go and preparing yourself for that path by creating and being able to demonstrate your work. Garretson spoke about deciding to take the leap into the directing chair, believing in yourself and not letting your insecurities get in the way. Lowrey recalled showing your strengths and abilities as an AD and being creative, having solutions and reframing any weakness as a Director. Mendoza discussed rising through the ranks and being thankful for those that helped along the way. Tortu covered using your time effectively on set, taking opportunities and utilizing your resources.

Following the moderated portion of the conversation, the panelists fielded questions submitted by the online audience.


About the Panelists:

Anya AdamsDirector Anya Adams
Following her acceptance into the DGA Assistant Directors Training Program, the Adams trained on the set of such shows as Malcom in the Middle and The Practice before joining the Guild in 2003. Before moving into the director’s chair, she worked as an AD on such notable shows as The Mindy ProjectCommunityScrubs and The West Wing. Since becoming a director, her credits include the pilot and second episode of the Netflix drama, Ginny & Georgia; episodes of Black-ishSingle ParentsFresh Off the BoatThe Good PlaceCharmedBless This MessGLOWAmerican PrincessSpeechless and the short, Lemonade Mafia.

 

Anya AdamsDirector Katy Garretson
After graduating from the DGA Assistant Directors Training Program in 1990 and working as a First AD on the sitcom, Frasier, Garretson became one of the show’s regular Directors and earned DGA Award nominations for her episodes “Dr. Nora” and “The Matchmaker.” Her other directing credits include episodes of BrokeCarol’s Second ActTwo Broke GirlsFuller HouseRebaTitusGirlfriends and Sid the Science Kid. She has also served the DGA as an Associate National Board member, on numerous committees and chaired the Western AD/UPM Council for three terms. In 2012, she was honored with the DGA Frank Capra Achievement Award for both her service to the Guild and her career achievements.

 
Jessica LowreyDirector Jessica Lowrey
Lowrey is an alumnus of the DGA Director Development Initiative mentorship program as well as the DGA Assistant Directors Training Program. A DGA member since 2005, before beginning her directing career, she gained extensive experience as an Assistant Director on multiple series including BallersMad Men and The Santa Clarita Diet. Her directing credits include episodes of Doom PatrolKaty KeeneBriarpatchThe PurgeFear the Walking Dead, and Heathers. She is currently in development on her first feature film.
 
Linda MendozaDirector Linda Mendoza
A DGA Member since 1987, Mendoza worked as an Associate Director on the skitcom In Living Color, and as an Assistant Director on live events like Unplugged and the MTV Music Awards. She began her directing career on The Chris Rock Show and The Bernie Mac Show. Her work has included episodes of 30 RockMen at WorkScrubsGilmore GirlsUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. She earned DGA Award nominations for her specials, Wanda Sykes: Not Normal (2019), Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize Celebrating David Letterman (2017),  Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles: In Performance at the White House (2015) and Paul McCartney: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in Performance at The White House (2010).
 
Angela TortuDirector Angela Tortu
A member of the DGA since 1993, Tortu began her 2nd AD career on films such as Tony Scott’s Crimson Tide and Les Mayfield’s Flubber before she found opportunities in episodic television and made the move to 1st AD on shows including EntourageThe LeftoversBetter Things and The Mindy Project. Since becoming a Director, she has accrued credits with episodes of Saved by the BellFresh Off the Boat and Diary of a Future President.
 
Drew Ann RosenbergDirector Drew Ann Rosenberg (moderator)
Rosenberg has worked as an Assistant Director on productions including Rob Reiner’s feature film Misery, Curtis Hanson’s DGA Award-nominated feature L.A. Confidential and George C. Wolfe's DGA Award-winning movie for television Lackawanna Blues. Her directorial credits include the features Alex in WonderFollow the ProphetHole in One; and episodes of Saints & Sinners. Rosenberg has been a DGA member since 1987.

ABOUT THE COMMITTEE:

The Women's Steering Committee (WSC) was created to advance the professional interests of its members, and to heighten their visibility and career opportunities in the entertainment industry. The WSC currently promotes diversity through sponsoring net-working events, screenings and seminars, and fosters relationships between the members to provide support, mentoring and networking opportunities. The WSC’s current Co-Chairs are Maria Burton, Hanelle Culpepper and Liz Ryan.


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