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What do TV directors do?

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 19, 2010

Television drama is known as a writer’s medium but directors wield increasing influence over the visual language of a show.

[Jack] Bender didn’t direct the Lost pilot — that was J.J. Abrams — but he helmed the second episode, “Walkabout,” and set some ground rules that have largely endured. Handheld cameras shouldn’t be used unless they serve a real dramatic purpose. (“I said, ‘OK, let’s not become the handheld show,’” Bender says.) Blues and greens, the main colors on the island, should largely be kept out of the flashback scenes. During the filming of “Walkabout,” Bender also made subtle changes to the script in order to heighten the drama. One scene, set on the beach amid the ruins of a crashed airplane, called for a knife to fly through the air and land in the trunk of a tree. Bender decided to send the knife into a seat cushion lodged in the sand, while a character sat in the adjacent seat.

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