Director Bethany Rooney To Share Insight into TV Storytelling
Director Bethany Rooney, with more than 175 episodes of prime-time television during a 25-year Hollywood career to her credit, will speak at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film on Thursday, November 21, at 6 p.m.
Ms. Rooney, in town to direct an episode of the ABC-TV series Nashville, will discuss the role of the television director and her involvement with some of entertainment’s most iconic shows. Richard Gershman, chair of The Film School, will introduce her and facilitate the Q&A session in the Watkins Theater.
The event is free and the public is invited.
Ms. Rooney’s career has defied the odds of Hollywood: in a business where less than fifteen percent of directors are women, she has been at the helm of nearly 200 hours of single-camera, narrative, prime- time television, including current network series Scandal, Arrow, Castle, Grey’s Anatomy, Parenthood, and Criminal Minds.
She authored (with Mary Lou Belli) Directors Tell the Story: Master the Craft of Television and Film Directing (Focal Press, 2011), a practical guide that is being utilized in directing classes on many college campuses, including Columbia University, Arizona State University, Chapman University (Orange, CA) and Tisch Asia School of Arts (Singapore).
“If you have had a favorite TV drama in the last 20 years, there’s a good chance Bethany Rooney has worked on it,” said Gershman, a fellow DGA member who met her in Los Angeles early in their careers. “With experience that rivals that of any director in the TV industry, she is generous in sharing insight and perspective on exactly what happens inside the television arena.”
Bethany Rooney began her directing career on the 1980’s iconic television show, St. Elsewhere, where she had served as associate producer. Additional directing credits include the series Desperate Housewives, Ally McBeal, Private Practice, Brothers & Sisters, In Plain Sight, Weeds, and Drop Dead Diva, and eight television movies (with three Danielle Steel adaptations for NBC).
Regarded as an actor’s director, Ms. Rooney has guided the performances of stars such as Denzel Washington, Hilary Swank, Mary Tyler Moore, Angela Bassett, George Clooney, Alfre Woodard, Felicity Huffman, Sally Field and Robert Downey Jr.
Based in Los Angeles, Ms. Rooney has taught directing at UCLA Extension and numerous acting workshops in the LA area, most recently through Steppenwolf Theatre West. Earlier this year she taught the pilot program of the Warner Bros. Directing Workshop as well as seminars in SAG/AFTRA’s young professionals program. She holds a master’s degree from Bowling Green State University (Ohio).
She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and has served on several committees for the Directors Guild of America. She is also a frequent contributor to the film, food and politics blog Blvd Central (blvdcentral.com/author/brooney).
Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard in MetroCenter; free parking is available in the campus lot.
The Film School of Watkins College of Art, Design & Film is distinguished by a film curriculum that explores the artistic, technical and business aspects of independent filmmaking. With a focus on dramatic narrative film, the Film School helps students find their personal voice and style in order to incorporate these elements into their narrative work. Production courses are small, allowing for faculty mentoring and advising and close collaboration with colleagues. Watkins offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (BFA) in Film with concentration in Producing, Directing, Screenwriting, Cinematography and Editing, and a Professional Certificate in Film for those who already hold a Bachelor’s Degree. In addition to the film curriculum, students are required to complete a Visual Arts Core of studies and a General Education Core, designed to create a program for a well-rounded filmmaker and visual artist.
Directors Tell the Story: Master the Craft of Television and Film Directing
by Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli (Focal Press, 2011)
Review by John Patterson
Written by two top female TV directors, who between them have directed hundreds of episodes of TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Girlfriends, Major Dad, and Monk, this is an indispensable handbook for the aspiring TV director (the focus, despite the title, is largely on episodic television), and should find its place in the curriculum of any film school in the land. Its comprehensiveness is breathtaking, as the authors analyze in depth every stage of the process, from breaking down the script for story and character to casting, production design, blocking, and creating shot lists. There are sections on directing actors, relations with camera operators and writers, commanding the set with conviction and respect, and the myriad duties in postproduction. All of this is presented on a human scale, and in approachable, largely nontechnical language that renders an intimidating and demanding job in terms that are easy to comprehend and absorb—and most important, backed up by experience.