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March 30, 2006


Richard Jensen

I remember hearing the story sometime back. I think it was Robert Riskin who sent Capra the blank script.

Stephen Gallagher

Alan Plater once said that he wished directors would shoot what he'd written, not what it reminded them of.There are directors who can elevate your material and show it back to you in a form that lifts your heart and makes you feel twice the artist you thought you were. But most are assertive people of modest ability. That, plus knowing a decent cameraman with a fast-working crew, will take you a long way.To my mind, the biggest inducement for a writer to turn director is the way that you're always shut out of the party that you've struggled to set up.Also, the fact that you know the party is full of people making choices that over-rule your own.

poor man

I'd have to say that I would even prefer editing over writing. Not sure where it falls vs. directing, which I agree beats writing any day. With editing, you are constantly rebuilding a puzzle, toying with new possibilities. Every millisecond of footage counts - or doesn't. I've been known to edit for days before realizing I needed to eat. Thank God the producer was there to annoy me with that deadline b.s.


Question:On the TV shows you've worked on, who decides who gets a shot at the director's chair? What criteria do they use? Is it just the showrunner's call? Is it a joint decision between the UPM, the showrunner, and the network? Does the DP have any say in the matter?On the TV shows that I've worked on, the higher ups in the writers room - story editors, supervising producers etc. get to direct before first AD's do. I've never seen a lowly staff writer get a shot though.

Bill Peschel

My WAG would be that other advantages are that a) directors get paid more, b) get a better chance at a steady gig, and c) to be a director is to be held in *awe* because you're the auteur.

Stephen Gallagher

I love it when directors are complimented on their sense of story pacing and narrative structure.While the screenplay only gets a nod if there are jokes.


I love Billy Wilder. A truely great visionary. Why are Europeans so witty?"Upon learning that his Marathon Man costar Dustin Hoffman had stayed awake for two days to look properly exhausted in one scene, Laurence Olivier told the younger actor, 'You should try acting, my boy. It's much easier.'"Gotta love it.

The Hopper

I never thought I'd be interested in directing. I only started doing it because I didn't feel like interviewing a million different wanna be directors for my no budget video podcast. Once I learned how to use the camera (I don't have the benefit of a crew or anything practical like that) Directing is a million times easier than writing. The hard work is already done even though I find I'm equally exhauseted after writing as directing. Even though we're operating in super indie land (http://www.CigarVideoPodcast.com) I could see how this would be true in more mainstream projects.

Jesse Wendel

I'm raising the funds to direct a documentary, scheduled to start this summer. www.bastardzen.org for details.For me, writing the screenplay I intend to direct afterwards, was enormously harder than the producer's role I'm in now, or the director's role.The Capra story is on point. A blank computer screen, and 120 pages to go... Compared to that, when you go into preproduction, or start shooting, you know what you're going to shoot, what the movie is about, and so on.I loved directing and producing commercials and live events in the Bay Area back in the 80's and early 90's, but compatively for myself, writing is not only much harder, it's much more rewarding.


from: SCREENWRITING The Art, Craft and Business of Film and Television Writing by Richard Walter The story is told of director Frank Capra, who was asked in an interview to explain precisely how he achieved that special quality known as "the Capra touch." For page after page he rambled on about this technique and that one. At great length he discussed how he had lent "the touch" to this film and that one. And in all of these pages nowhere was mentioned Robert Riskin, who had merely written the films. The day after the interview appeared in the press, there arrived at Capra's office a script-sized envelope. Inside was a document very closely resembling a screenplay: a front cover, a back cover, and one hundred and ten pages. But the cover and pages were all blank. Clipped to the "script" was a note to Capra from Robert Riskin. It read: "Dear Frank, put the 'Capra touch' on this!"

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    Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, DHARMA & GREG, and has co-created his own series including ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. He and his partner wrote the feature VOLUNTEERS. Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres.
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