Author: Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli

Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli

Bethany Rooney: In an environment where less than ten percent of dramas on television are directed by women, Bethany Rooney has enjoyed a long and esteemed career. She has directed over one hundred and fifty episodes of prime-time network shows, including Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters, and Private Practice. For cable television, she has directed In Plain Sight, Weeds, and Drop Dead Diva. She began her directing career on the 1980’s iconic television show, St. Elsewhere, where she had served as associate producer. She has also directed eight television movies, including three Danielle Steel adaptations for NBC. Her movies have earned reviews such as the following from Variety: “Bethany Rooney’s sensitive direction makes for some vivid and understated moments,” and the Hollywood Reporter noted her “carefully paced and involving direction (featuring) magnificent acting.” She has directed Oscar winners and contenders Denzel Washington, Hilary Swank, Mary Tyler Moore, Angela Bassett, George Clooney, Alfre Woodard, Felicity Huffman, Sally Field, and Robert Downey Jr., among many others. She is also the author of The Director Tells the Story. Mary Lou Belli: is an Emmy Award winning producer, writer, and director as well as the author of three books. Most recently she directed Monk starring Emmy award winner Tony Shalhoub and The Wizards of Waverly Place on the Disney Channel. Last season on the CW she directed The Game, the spinoff to Girlfriends, a series Mary Lou directed for 7 consecutive seasons. With over 100 episodes to her credit, Mary Lou directed Living with Fran starring Fran Drescher, Misconceptions starring Jane Leeves, and Eve starring hip hop artist Eve, as well as The Hughleys, Charles in Charge, Major Dad, and Sister, Sister. She lectures frequently throughout the United States including many universities such as AFI, NYU, Northwestern, and UConn. She is the co-author of three books: The Director Tells the Story, The Sitcom Career Book, Acting for Young Actors.

Posts by Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli:

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Making the Day

by Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli

In an average 12-hour single-camera production day (7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.), most television shows average about 25 setups (individual shots) per day. It takes that long because each scene must be rehearsed, blocked, and shot. There is also time allotted for things like hair and makeup touch-ups. Uncomplicated shots take a minimum of 30…

Photo by Craig Grobler

Seven Types of Camera Shots

by Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli

Let’s go over the names for each type of shot, going from wide to tight: Establishing shot: A wide shot that shows the environment. Master: A shot that holds all the actors in the frame; usually shot first, it creates a template for the scene because in every shot after the master, all the actors…

script changes

ASKING FOR SCRIPT FIXES: TIPS FOR THE TELEVISION DIRECTOR

by Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli

Your first meeting with the showrunner will probably be a quick meet and greet, a chance for you to connect personally. He’ll ask what you think of the show and of the script you are assigned to direct. Both answers should be energetically positive. Remember, you need to make a good first impression, and this…

directing

What the Executive Producer Wants from the Director

by Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli

By Carol Barbee [Executive Producer on Jericho, Three Rivers, Swingtown, and Judging Amy] As executive producer, I meet with the director and discuss the script. I welcome the director’s notes and we discuss her concerns. During the rewrite process, the director is welcome to continue noting the script. Once the script is approved by the…

Photo by Roblisameehan

The Four Qualities Great Directors Share

by Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli

  We direct narrative (nonreality) primetime network episode and television movies. That is, we direct dramas and single-camera comedies using the same process that Steven Spielberg (or any other movie director) uses. We are filmmakers. We tell stories. We just have less time and less money than a feature director. We direct shows seen by…

Photo by Lars P.

Five Phrases That Trigger An Actor’s Performance

by Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli

Here are some code words in the actor’s vocabulary: Raise the stakes. This also means, “Commit to your intention more strongly.” Make the scene more important. Care more. Make a bigger deal out of it. Sometimes an actor’s energy is just a little down. All you have to say is “Raise the stakes,” and they…

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