Did you know that each episode of your fave television show is filmed by a different director? But how do the episodes seem so seamless, you may ask - never changing in tone or look? In this article, we're talking all about episodic directors, their role, and how they function. Let’s dive right in!
WHAT IS AN EPISODIC DIRECTOR?
An episodic director, you guessed it, is a director who directs individual episodes in a TV series. It is their job to come in for one week and mimic the job of the pilot director and those that have come before them all while adding their own personal touch. As you can imagine, it takes a certain amount of skill to be an episodic director. The episodes of a series should all feel seamless like they were directed by one person. That’s where skill comes in. Most directors are such huge creatives that they can’t help but to leave their mark everywhere. Think of it like a blank canvas. The pilot director paints the picture. It’s the episodic director’s job to replicate that picture, coloring within the lines but is able to take a few liberties here and there to make the piece their own.
THE PILOT DIRECTOR
Now, let’s break down the role of the pilot director a little more. The pilot director is the person who gets to work with the creatives at the Network and the Executive Producers in the writers’ room to create the tone and look of the show. They are tasked with aspects like deciding what transitions will look like. Will they wipe away like the Indiana Jones series? Will they click like the investigative cameras in Scandal? They decide if they’ll shoot on film for that beautiful “lack of realism” look or digital for a modern look. They choose the colors that live and breathe in the show. Pilot Directors, using our running metaphor, get to paint all over the canvas. In other words, pilot Directors get to do the creative work that is very similar to working on a film: Take the words from the script and turn it into glory on the screen. Blank canvas. Lots of paint.
THE ROLE OF THE NETWORK
The network has the somewhat difficult task of deciding which pilot director will best fit the show. This process can be difficult because in the beginning, everyone is still trying to figure out what the show is. Creative Executives will watch tape on Directors that they know have directed pilots in their genre before. Sometimes it can be a pretty smooth process – choose the director who knows this world well and does this particular thing all the time. However, sometimes the executives may choose someone who does something well in comedy because they want their drama to be light in tone. Either way, the executives come up with a list of pilot Directors who come in to pitch their take after reading the pilot script.
Episodic Directors are chosen a bit similarly. Who does this well? Who can come in and paint within the lines but still add their own colors? Again, they may look specifically for Directors who direct a particular genre well. They may look into Directors who have directed for them in the past. The great news is, directing an episode of TV is a great way to find new, up-and-coming Directors, which is why we have recently seen an uptick in actors often getting a chance to direct episodes.
THE MORE YOU KNOW
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