Thursday, July 3, 2008

directing non-union television

I watched a TV show I directed last year, and ended up producing/writing the pilot episode. Now, usually you would get pay for each Writing, Directing, and Producing, you would be entitled to residuals, etc. But with a non-union show, you are expected to do a lot more. In fact, since it's your name at the end credits, people associate you with the good and bad of the end product.

See, I'm a writer, but I'm also a director, and a producer, so I can see things from a lot of angles. The thing I like best about writing, besides creating a world from scratch, is that after you write the script, you can defer to both the director and producer as having the responsibility for the end product. For every mind-numbing change, for every stupid plot hole, you can say, hey it's not me, it's the director. However, when you are directing, that's not the case. Even if you have the footage ripped from you and edited without any input from you, which is what happened to me, it is still your show. Even if you have only been in editing for 2 hours because that's all the producer can afford (which by the way I was never paid for), it's still your baby. Even if everyone on set compliments how you run the show, when a producer or editor screws up it's all on you.

Now, with this project it wasn't so bad. The editor had never edited for TV before, and the on set crew was lack-luster at best. However, I am not going to be ashamed when I show it to potential distributors and tell them this is a rough cut. But it brings up a point that I should mention...

  • writing, directing, producing, or acting on assignment is just assignment. You are not an auteur, unless you are very lucky. No, you are a person who is paid to do a job, do it well, and bring in your expertise. It's not being a writer/director on a high budget film.
  • It's not your vision, it's their. Your job is to make their vision come to life, cut out the bad ideas, leave the good, and make it the best project it can be.
  • You are meant to get in, on time, under budget, and still maintain the artistic integrity.
  • The best you can ask for is a thanks. What you normally get is yelled at, complained to, undermined, and threatened.
Ahhh. TV Directing. It's a blasty-blast.

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