Wednesday, July 07, 2021

One and done

Here’s a Friday Question that became an entire post.

Bob Uecker Is A National Treasure asked it.  (And by the way Bob Uecker IS a National Treasure.)

When I see the IMDB page of someone like yourself who is a TV director and something else (writer) or someone who is an actor/TV director, there will be shows where they only directed one episode. Is that a sign that the person wasn't a good fit for that show? It seems like when producers/showrunners really like a director for a certain show, they will use them over and over again.

In some cases, absolutely.   Only one episode assignment could mean the director didn’t work out.  

But there could be many other reasons a director only "megs" one episode.  The director may have hated the experience and has no desire to return.  

If you’re directing a first year show they may wind up only making ten or thirteen episodes.  So you’re never given a chance to direct more.

It could also be just a numbers game.  Most shows (especially now) try to use one or two primary directors.  So there may only be one or two openings a year.

Other times a show will give a break to a first-time director, usually someone who had been part of the show (Assistant Director, Editor, Actor, Writer).  They get their shot and then are expected to leave the nest and find assignments elsewhere.  

A one-time director could also be a favor to the star.  I remember a case where a studio head’s wife pressured him into giving her a directing assignment.  Needless to say, it was one and done.

If it’s a veteran director they may only do one episode of a show because they’re in demand.   I enjoyed a few years of this.  My agent would just fill in the calendar.  A show would call asking my availability.  I might only be free for one of their open assignments.  

Here’s the bottom line if you try to assess a director’s ability through credits:  Check him out on imdb.  If he has four credits and they’re all single episodes then it’s a good bet he wasn’t asked back on a few of them.  But if he also has shows where he’s done multiples of at least three, that’s a good sign.  If he has some shows where he’s directed ten or twenty just assume the shows where he’s only done one is not because he didn’t work out.  

It’s also worth noting that imdb is not always accurate.   Between LATELINE, ALMOST PERFECT, ENCORE ENCORE, ASK HARRIET, and CONRAD BLOOM, they’ve shortchanged me ten episodes.  But at least I get the huge royalties all of those shows provide. 


Andrew said...

Friday questions:

How do royalties apply to YouTube videos, and similar sites?

It is easy to find clips from older TV shows (such as MASH, Cheers, etc.) on YouTube. I just recently watched a few excerpts from the MASH finale. You can actually find entire episodes, either broken up into smaller sections, or from beginning to end. Is the posting of these videos basically illegal? Is it something that studios, unions, relevant attornies, etc. crack down on in some instances but not others (like a game of whack-a-mole)? Is it not considered illegal because no money is paid to whoever posted the video? Is it "fair use" as educational material? Have you ever received royalties from a YouTube account or other website?

Then, if you don't mind a follow up, if a third party were to link to a YouTube video involving your work, would he be obligated to get permission first, and/or pay royalties?

Thanks, Ken!

Mike Bloodworth said...

Not an official F.Q., but what's the pay scale for a TV director? Do they all get union scale? Can they negotiate a higher fee or royalties? Is pay a factor in how often a director is used?
Also, when you said, "the director didn't work out." That could mean that he, she, it was a total a-hole and everything hated their guts.

Off topic: The hockey player you mentioned on the 4th was killed by a mortar type projectile firework. Not the "safe and sane" type.

Two more suggestions for "Jeopardy" guest hosts. Judy Tenuta and Emo Phillips. Not at the same time of course.


YEKIMI said...

@ Mike Bloodworth: Here's a handy little item to look at. Click on contracts and follow the drop down menu and pick one you're interested in.

Derek said...

Friday question:
On single-camera shows, there seems to be a lot of opportunity for the director to get creative with camera angles, long-shots, close ups, special effects, etc. Some shows (eg, Breaking Bad) do this a lot. But for multi-camera shows it appears there would be far less opportunity for the director to get creative in this way. Are there things that I haven't noticed that a multi-camera director can do to "show off" his or her talents? Do you sometimes watch a show and notice that the multi-cam director has done something novel that the average viewer might not appreciate? Thanks.

K said...

Coincedence or pyback?
Considering your pride in "Big Wave Dave's" series it was jarring to hear that name used as an ID for what, at the time, was the depraved serial murderer in early season of Bosch ( I know late to the party again)
So is this a fellow writer taking a shot, did you offend one of them or just an example of random chance?