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October 30, 2014

directing an episode

What do you think a TV director does?

by Joel Keller, posted Jan 20th 2006 5:44PM
Chris Rock directing Everybody Hates ChrisI just saw this press release that announces that Chris Rock and Will Smith will direct an episode of Everybody Hates Chris and All of Us, respectively. Obviously, both actors have an in with each series, since they are the executive producers of their respective shows. Of the two, only Rock has directorial experience, having directed his 2003 movie flop, Head of State.

It's amazing to me how many actors get a chance to direct episodes of the shows they star in or produce. Now, I know how involved film directors are with their projects, shaping the actors' performances, setting the mood with lighting, effects, and filming techniques, and setting the pace through editing. But what does a TV director, especially of an established, long running show, do? "Uh, Jenny, baby, can you act a little more Rachel-like?" "Mary, can you cry a little more when you say 'Oh, Mr. Grant!"?" What do they do that can put a unique stamp on a show? The only time I've ever seen a director make a difference on a show was when Quentin Tarrantino directed episodes of ER and CSI.

It's almost as if the show runners think that directing a TV series is so easy, anyone can do it, which must be a slap in the face to experienced, esteemed directors such as James Burrows and David Steinberg.

If you know what a new director, especially a cast member or star producer, can bring to an existing TV show, let me know in the comments.

[via The Futon Critic]

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