Becoming a Television Director
It so happened that I was born in Lodz, Poland where my father was directing his first feature film. “Zaczarowany Rower” which stared another graduate of the film school my father attended, Roman Polanski, went on to become a big success.
Believing, as history has proven to them, that there would be a World War every twenty years, my parents decided that the only safe place for them, and me, would be in — Israel.
Between The Sinai War and The Six Day War, my father continued working as a film director and my mother continued acting in theater. The house was always enthralled in discussions about art, literature, comedic timing and film-making. Dailies were screened on our living room wall.
Growing up in Israel, I continued my education in the Israeli Defense Forces. First as a Drill Sargent in basic training, later an Officer in the Northern Command. That is where The Yom Kippur War found me, while on active duty.
Watching my father struggle through the years; writing, producing and directing hundreds of short films that were screened all over the world, and seeing him die of a broken heart at 52, I’ve decided that I will never, ever go into this business. I didn’t go far and enrolled in the Theater Department of Tel Aviv University.
But the lights of the small studio the Film Department had, turned out to be spellbinding. Frequently I found myself with my nose against the glass, feeling a rush I have never felt in the theater. Who am I kidding? I thought to myself, and after two years of Acting School transferred to the Film Department.
A bunch of movie enthusiasts, we were about to change the face of World Cinema. But before that, we needed to eat. When a big American production came to Israel and employed every single industry person, I was hired as Script Supervisor for the second unit.
Within a few years I became the top Script Supervisor in Israel. The “go to” girl. Aside from Israeli movies, I worked on location in South Africa, Kenya, Germany, Italy and France. I directed short documentaries, PSA’s and election spots –
But what I really wanted to do is direct movies.
When the opportunity to move to Los Angeles presented itself, there was no happier woman (or man) alive. I’m going to Hollywood, I said to myself over and over again, to the land of my dreams, to the place I only read about in the magazines my father subscribed to. Now my real life is about to begin.
I was lucky to start working almost immediately. I worked along great and interesting directors, on small budget gems and big budget disasters. I worked on performance pieces and action units –
But all I really wanted to do is direct.
Working on my first television series I was often pulled into the executive producer’s office and asked to “help with this new director”. After two years of that, I mustered the courage to ask for an episode to direct by myself.
The series lasted 5 years. From the third year on I have directed one episode a year. When the show came to an end, I was lucky to join another television series that had just started. This one continued to have 7 seasons, and starting with the third I’ve directed one episode a year, out of the ten that were ordered.
The road is set, I thought, all I need now is to follow my luck.
I hung up my stopwatch (an integral part of a Script Supervisor’s work) and dedicated myself to becoming a full time Director. My agent arranged meetings with network executives and production companies, but to get to the set, to the place and people who make the decisions about hiring Directors, proved to be much more difficult.
Aside from directing all the episodes of a web series for TBS, I found that I do not know enough producers to be able to ‘break in’ and finally be able to do what I spent my whole adult life wanting to do – tell stories on film.
My life as a warrior is not over yet. I am able, willing and available to do whatever it takes to become a full time, working, television Director.
This blog will follow my battles, my victories and defeats. It will talk about what it takes to ‘break in’ into a man’s profession. Until then, I do whatever I can to live, keep my sanity and feed my 2 kids.
First, let me introduce myself; www.renasternfeld.com.