Succession Panel

Family Matters: An Evening with Directors from HBO's Succession

April 13, 2021 An Eastern Region Special Projects Committee virtual event.

On April 13, the Eastern Region Special Projects Committee hosted the online event, Family Matters: An Evening with Directors from HBO's Succession. Directors Shari Springer Berman, Kevin Bray, Mark Mylod, Andrij Parekh and Robert Pulcini spoke about the work of bringing this award-winning program to the screen in a conversation moderated by Director Fisher Stevens.

The evening opened with a welcome by Eastern Region Special Projects Committee Chair Raymond DeFelitta and DGA Assistant Executive Director Michael Berger. Then, Stevens took the floor to introduce the evening’s panelists.

“One thing that’s incredible about this panel is that the directors that we have tonight all come from completely diverse backgrounds of this business,” said Stevens. “That’s what’s beautiful about Succession, is that the directors are from all walks of life.”

Following screenings of clips from the show’s second season, Stevens discussed the challenges of directing Succession with each of the panelists.

“I described our process of really just trying to capture moments,” said Mylod when asked about how he conceptualized filming large ensemble dinner scenes. “There is no moment where you say okay, there is your closeup. That doesn't really exist on our show. And the actors have all responded to it brilliantly. There's a symbiotic relationship between cast and the camera, and also I think a mutual trust.”

Parekh noted that the show’s organic shooting style creates opportunities for different kinds of scene coverage. “It's an amazing way to work. It was very freeing to know that it was as much about reactions as it was about spoken lines, that we don't have to have every line on camera, … knowing that you might be delivering things that have holes in it just by virtue of the way that it's shot.”

Answering a question from the audience about the show’s rehearsal process, Berman described it as a balancing act. “It totally depends on the actors that you're in the scene with and how emotional the scene is. … to figure out how to get enough rehearsal so that everybody feels comfortable but not too much so that some of the actors feel overworked and it's not going to be fresh.”

“The thing that I found really different about Succession is that all the feeds are live,” said Pulcini. “They don't just leave a TV screen on and say, ‘We'll worry about that later in post’ ... Every scene has to be approached with, ‘Where are we with the news being leaked, what's on the screens, how are we with the characters reacting to it?’ That was the trickiest part of it for me, tracking those two simultaneously.”

“You are not privy as the filmmakers to what's about to happen,” said Bray, discussing the improvisational aspects of filming, “and you try to manifest that in the shooting style. … What it's about is you bringing your individuality, or whatever little things that you enjoy and you might want to see when you're shooting this show, and then that gives it its individuality.”

Succession tracks the lives of the Roy family as they contemplate their future once their aging father begins to step back from the media and entertainment conglomerate they control. The series earned Director Adam McKay the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series in 2019 and garnered Mylod a DGA Award nomination in 2020.

See video from this event in the gallery below.

Succession PanelMark Mylod
In addition to his work on Succession, Mylod's directorial credits include the movies for television Washingtonienne and The Royle Family: The New Sofa; episodes of ShamelessGame of ThronesEntourageUnited States of TaraThe Royle Family; and the pilots for Once Upon a Time and the TV mini-series Minority Report. He has been a DGA member since 2006. 
Succession PanelKevin Bray
In addition to his work on Succession, Bray's directorial credits include the feature Walking Tall; the movie for television Silver Lake; the pilot for the series Satisfaction; and episodes of Black-ishSnowfallInsecureThe AmericansSuitsWhite CollarBurn Notice and Cold Case. He has been a DGA member since 2001 and serves as a member of the Diversity Task Force. 
Succession PanelAndrij Parekh
In addition to his work on Succession, where he has also worked as a DP, Parekh's directorial credits include episodes of Brave New World and Watchmen. He has been a DGA member since 2017. 
Succession PanelRobert Pulcini & Shari Springer Berman
In addition to their work on Succession, Pulcini and Berman's directorial credits include the features Things Heard & Seen10,000 SaintsThe Nanny Diaries and American Splendor; the documentary features Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen'sHello, He Lied & Other Truths from the Hollywood Trenches and Wanderlust; and the pilot for the TV documentary series The New Yorker Presents. Pulcini and Berman have both been DGA members since 2006 and Berman serves as a member of the Eastern Directors Council 

Succession PanelFisher Stevens (moderator)
Stevens’ directorial credits include the feature films PalmerStand Up Guys and Just a Kiss; the documentaries And We Go GreenBefore the FloodMission Blue and John Leguizamo’s Ghetto Klown; and episodes of the series Early Edition and the documentary series Dirty Money. He has been a DGA member since 1998.

About The Special Projects Committee

Special Projects is the educational and cultural arm of the Directors Guild of America, providing its members opportunities for creative exchange to advance their craft and celebrate the achievements of directors and their teams.

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