The Cinematography Podcast Episode 146: Director and author Dan Attias

Dan Attias has directed dozens of episodes of critically acclaimed television shows such as The Wire, The Sopranos, Homeland, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Americans, Billions, and many more. His years of experience led him to write the book, Directing Great Television: Inside TV’s New Golden Age. The book is not only for those who want to direct, but also for fans who want to know how these shows are made.

In college, Dan studied acting and had to make a short film as part of his film studies. He found he enjoyed being behind the camera as a director, and continued to study film with an eye to directing. Dan started working on several big movies as an assistant director, such as E.T., One From the Heart, Airplane! and Twilight Zone: The Movie. His first directing job was on Stephen King’s Silver Bullet, a werewolf horror movie produced by Dino De Laurentiis.

Dan finds the best way to approach directing a television show is to get invested in the story by finding what interests you in the script. In series television, directors often don’t even get the script until a few days before they’re going to direct it. If the show already exists, Dan likes to immerse himself in the show, watching several episodes and asking the production to send over past scripts. Directing one episode of a long-running show is like writing just one chapter of a novel- it needs to fit in seamlessly to the entire story, while still feeling compelling and propelling the story forward. A director of episodic TV has to balance making it their story while still executing the showrunner’s vision and honoring the intention of the writers. Dan also likes to explore every scene of the episode he’s directing with the writers during a tone meeting. He often asks, what is the story being told? The story isn’t simply what happens, but the meaning that you give to what happens- where you’re directing the audience’s focus. Make sure you keep asking yourself, how does it make me feel? The director must be able to dig down with the actors and come up with an interesting subtext to the story if the scene needs a boost.

Find Dan Attias

Directing Great Television: Inside TV’s New Golden Age is available on Amazon.

WIN an autographed copy of Directing Great Television! Follow us on Instagram (if you don’t already!) @thecinepod and comment on our post for this episode!

Close Focus: The parent company for Facebook and all of its properties will now be called Meta, and a discussion of the company’s attempted forays into entertainment.

Ben’s short end: More alternatives to using real guns on set. Tested, a YouTube channel with host Adam Savage- formerly of MythBusters– did an episode on Weta Workshop’s machine gun props for Avatar.

Illya’s short end: DJI has released the Action 2, their version of a GoPro camera. It’s a great wearable, mini action camera with lots of features and functions. You can find one at Hot Rod Cameras.

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Sponsored by Assemble: Sign up for Assemble’s production management software and get one month FREE! Use code “cinepod” to take advantage of this offer. Be sure to watch our YouTube video of Nate Watkin showing how Assemble works!

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Instagram: @thecinepod

Twitter: @ShortEndz


Podcast Credits:

Editor in Chief:  Illya Friedman Email:
Instagram: @illyafriedman @hotrodcameras

Ben Rock

@neptunesalad twitter

@bejamin_rock instagram

Producer: Alana Kode

Editor: Ben Katz

Composer: Kays Al-Atrakchi

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