How to Break In to TV Directing and Excel at the Job

Hosted by Heath Cullens

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Heath Cullens

Webinar hosted by: Heath Cullens

Director, IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA

Heath Cullens is an accomplished television director who has directed episodes of TV shows like IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, GREAT MINDS WITH DAN HARMON, and FX’s YOU’RE THE WORST. Heath’s other notable credits include IDIOTSITTER for Comedy Central, DEADBEAT for Hulu, and BLACK JESUS for Adult Swim. In addition to directing, Heath also produced the Lionsgate feature ARMED RESPONSE, starring Cary Elwes, Ethan Embry, and Alan Arkin. A recipient of a Drama League Directing Fellowship and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, Heath is well-versed at the art of TV directing and will now share what he knows exclusively with Stage 32. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Most people have a general idea of what a director does, but that idea usually pertains more to feature films. Directing television can be a separate beast altogether. Successful TV directors need to be adept at navigating inherent contradictions associated with this role. Unlike in films, TV directors have to both have a vision and still fit in with the overall feel of the series. And they need to be in charge despite often only coming in for an episode or two. These are tough lines to straddle, but doing so and honing your craft can lead to a successful and exciting career.

Pursuing a career in directing in any medium is rife with challenges: there is no set path to success and finding insight into the inner workings of directing is challenging. Television directing is an even more specific specialty within the world of directing. Several ways of working and behaviors that would be ideal for a feature director are not compatible with the way television is produced. In addition, the path to breaking in as a television director is quite different from that of a feature director. If your goal is to direct television, it’s vital to understand the way television is produced and the role that the director plays within that specific production environment.

Heath Cullens is an accomplished television director who has directed episodes of TV shows like IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, GREAT MINDS WITH DAN HARMON, and FX’s YOU’RE THE WORST. Heath’s other notable credits include IDIOTSITTER for Comedy Central, DEADBEAT for Hulu, and BLACK JESUS for Adult Swim. In addition to directing, Heath also produced the Lionsgate feature ARMED RESPONSE, starring Cary Elwes, Ethan Embry, and Alan Arkin. A recipient of a Drama League Directing Fellowship and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, Heath is well-versed at the art of TV directing and will now share what he knows exclusively with Stage 32.

Heath will dig into the specifics and craft of directing for television and will reveal how to pursue it and how best to do the job once you get it. Heath will first explain how best to pursue work in TV directing, including discovering the type of TV is the best fit, how to find your ‘in’, developing a reel, shadowing, and working with established creators. Next he will delve into the vital relationships you’ll need to maintain as a TV director, including with the EP/showrunner, the crew, the cast, and the network or studio. Finally Heath will go through the major challenges you should expect in this role and tips on how to navigate. Along the way, Heath will share challenges and experiences from his own career. The role of a TV director can be enigmatic and often eclipsed by feature films, but Heath will give you the rundown so you can be equipped with the knowledge and advice to pursue this route on your own.

What You'll Learn

  • How to Pursue Work
    • What type of TV do you want to do?
    • How to get an “in”
    • Developing a body of work and a reel
    • How best to use shadowing
    • How to target a specific project or creator
    • How to get closer to the directing chair
  • Television Director Relationships
    • How to work with EP/showrunner
    • How to manage a crew
    • How to work with cast
    • How to work with network or studio
  • Major TV Director Challenges
    • How to be a guest and be in charge
    • How to put your spin on something while keeping true to the show’s style
    • How to prepare for a specific show/episode
  • Q&A with Heath

About Your Instructor

Heath Cullens is an accomplished television director who has directed episodes of TV shows like IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, GREAT MINDS WITH DAN HARMON, and FX’s YOU’RE THE WORST. Heath’s other notable credits include IDIOTSITTER for Comedy Central, DEADBEAT for Hulu, and BLACK JESUS for Adult Swim. In addition to directing, Heath also produced the Lionsgate feature ARMED RESPONSE, starring Cary Elwes, Ethan Embry, and Alan Arkin. A recipient of a Drama League Directing Fellowship and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, Heath is well-versed at the art of TV directing and will now share what he knows exclusively with Stage 32.

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Fundamentals Of Directing: From Visualization to Post-Production – 4 Class Intensive

In depth and comprehensive 4-session class on the craft of directing with exclusive handouts and downloads   Who doesn’t want to be a director? It’s the dream job of many, and it’s easy to see why. As director you get to helm a project, command a creative army, and bring your vision to life. Yet directing is by no means an easy job; it goes way beyond just sitting in a canvas chair and yelling “action!” Whether you’re directing a big budget blockbuster, an episode of TV, or your first micro-budget independent feature, you can’t go into it blind. Being an effective director requires preparation, strategy, discipline, and an overall understanding of your responsibilities and how best to perform them. Perhaps the biggest challenge of being an effective director is the need to understand and master every step of a project’s journey. 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In addition to directing, Heath also produced the Lionsgate feature ARMED RESPONSE, starring Cary Elwes, Ethan Embry, and Alan Arkin. A recipient of a Drama League Directing Fellowship and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, Heath is well-versed at every step of directing and will now share what he knows exclusively with Stage 32. In this four session class, Heath will walk you through every step of directing a film or television episode, and delve into the skills and techniques you need to know to successfully helm your own project. In session one, he will go over the overall role of the director, how to develop your own visual style and point of view, basic terminology and how to be an effective collaborator. In session 2, Heath will teach you pre-production, including text analysis, building a shot list, camera basics, and how to effectively schedule. 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