73rd Awards MTN Events

Meet the Nominees: Movies for Television & Limited Series

April 6, 2021 73rd Annual DGA Awards

On April 6, DGA members were able to view online the 2021 Meet the Nominees: Movies for Television & Limited Series event. Following an introduction of the nominated Directors by DGA Associate National Executive Director Bryan Unger, Directors Susanne Bier (The Undoing), Scott Frank (The Queen’s Gambit), Thomas Kail (Hamilton) and Matt Shakman (WandaVision) spoke about the making of their productions, and remembered their fellow nominee, the late Lynn Shelton (Little Fires Everywhere, “Find a Way”), in a conversation moderated by Movies for Television Sub-Committee Chair Mike Robe.

See exclusive video of the symposium below.

Speaking of Shelton, Robe said, “On behalf of all my director colleagues, we miss Lynn Shelton not just tonight but every moment. I had the pleasure of serving with Lynn on the DGA’s Creative Rights Committee. She was not only passionate and protective in her advocacy for all directors, she was a lovely and generous human being. Her talent speaks for itself and her nominated film tonight is testament to her legacy.”

Bier recalled how the combination of David Kelley’s first draft and Nicole Kidman’s participation was only part of what drew her to make The Undoing. “In a way, the chance to portray New York was really the thing that kind of made it for me. It was that kind of thing of actually being able to enter that world which have always been inaccessible like you walk around in Central Park and you look at those amazing secretive apartments and you kind of wonder what that world is like. The chance to enter it and portray it and sort of define it with my own language was kind of the thing that made me really want to do it.”

Frank recalled how he approached shooting the chess matches for The Queens Gambit, like musical numbers. “You would start at one place at the beginning of each tournament and come out at another place at the end of each tournament. [Cinematographer] Steven Miezler and I very carefully worked out how we were going to shoot, how much we were going to be on reactions, how much we were going to be on the board. When she plays the young Russian boy, you’re never on the chess board for the adjournment. When they come back for the second half of the game, you never see a single move she makes and the only chess piece you see is when he lays down his king. And it didn’t matter. There was still the drama.”

Kail spoke about impetus of taking Hamilton from stage to screen. “In the late spring early summer of 2015, I started talking to my producer Jeffrey Seller and Lin (Manuel Miranda) about how to capture this company. It felt like something was happening, the alchemy of that group should be preserved in some way. The authorial intent was to be there in the audience with those storytellers felt like the way we wanted to capture even if just to say in some way you know this group was all together at once. What we were interested in doing was cinematic things in a theatrical setting and now the question was could you then put another layer on that and still give proximity and try to capture the experience of what it was like to be in the Richard Rodgers Theater at that time.”

Shakman, a veteran of that world, revealed how the classic sitcom motifs that propelled much of WandaVision transported him back to his childhood. “I’m trying to be an adult serious director and will anyone take me seriously if I was a kid on a Friday night ABC sitcom, right? And yet this show was kind of therapy for me as it also is for the main character played by Elizabeth Olsen because I feel like I got to own my past in a pretty good way. We even shot in the same place I used to shoot this sitcom I was on in the ‘80s in the Warner Bros ranch so I was kind of surrounded by ghosts of my past and also ghosts of all the sitcoms past so it did feel like life coming full circle. But everyone had some connection to sitcoms as well. We all grew up watching and loving them. We did sitcom bootcamp and got together and watched a million episodes of television and had a wonderful dialect coach talk to us about how they would speak and movement coaches and wardrobe effects so much of that too. But comedy really changes from an acting style’s change. What is considered appropriate to each era changes and so we had to try to put our finger on that and make sure we were aping that era appropriately.”

DGA Meet the Nominees: Movies for Television and Limited Series Symposium


See video from this event in the gallery below.

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10/17/21-10/23/21
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