Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Spent the Weekend at a Cool Seminar with BattleStar Galactica Director Michael Nankin

Weekend before last, about 25 lucky attendees and I enjoyed a two-day seminar with famed TV director Michael Nankin. My favorite shows he's directed are multiple episodes of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, and CAPRICA, he has also directed CSI, HEROES, FLASH FORWARD, TRAUMA, and numerous others. Michael was also a showrunner (executive producer) and his credits as a writer-producer-director include CHICAGO HOPE, PICKET FENCES, LIFE GOES ON, and tons of network pilots.

Though I have directed, most recently "The Hollywood Quad," and a short play presented at ABC in front of a group of producers, I don't consider myself a director. It is a unique talent that I don't yet possess. However, as an actor and writer I found his seminar invaluable. I learned volumes about what directors are looking for both in the casting process and during filming. It is nearly impossible for me to put what I learned into words because it is mainly experiential. You have to be there and experience it.

For example, he showed dailies (all the film shot and printed on a particular day) and showed the edited final product that went on the air. One of the sets of dailies was from BattleStar Galactica, the other was from Caprica. The dailies from BattleStar Galactica included Edward James Almos as Admiral Adama, and Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin. It was a scene that favored Mary McDonnell and he showed three versions of it, all of which were amazing. (She is one of my favorite actresses). He talked about why he chose which pieces of which scenes to piece together into what we saw on television. Very informative.

The second set of dailies were from Caprica and included three actors, Esai Morales as Joseph Adama, Teryl Rothery as Evelyn Adama, and 11-year-old Sina Najafi as Young William Adama. Michael showed us with this set of dailies how he used camera angles to continue the "uncovering things that are hidden" aspect, which is such a big part of the series. Very interesting.

It was also very cool that Esai Morales was there and answered several questions about choices he made and choices Michael made.

I also got to enjoy dinner with Michael and others in the group where we got to know each other a little better and was an extreme pleasure.

The seminar was produced by Marc and Elaine Zicree as part of their SuperMentors series of classes and seminars. I have attended several and highly recommend you take part in one or more of them if you are at all interested in furthering your career in the entertainment business.

Here is a shot of Marc with Michael.

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