What do we want from a Pilot Director?



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  • What do we want from a Pilot Director?

    The more writers & producers I talk to/ work with — the more it seems in the world of tv we’re being asked to bring not only an original pilot script to the table but episodes 2 (ideally 3) as well as a pitch deck and season guide -- all before a project goes into streamers & studios. Perhaps it’s a producer’s way of reaffirming to buyers that the creator has a handle on where the show is going over the course of a season or 3.

    Which brings me to my question... What do we want from our pilot director? And also what don’t we want? With packaging of a director and/or talent seemingly so much more prevalent these days, I’ve noticed with my own projects that lots of these tv directors we’ve talked with seem to want to get in on the development (and reconfiguring) of those initial scripts, often wanting to flex their creative muscles.

    I wondered what others expected/ hoped for in a creator/director collaboration? As writers should we be cool with them wanting to dig into the work before it has been picked up by a buyer or do we want a director to focus (at this early stage) on the aesthetics, the tone, the pacing? How they visualize the story/characters and present to those network/ studio/ streamer execs how a project differentiates itself cinematically? Talking us through sequences and wow moments? Elevating scenes. Painting a picture of the world? Or is this simply too much to ask?

    No right or wrong answer, just curious what others feel about the above and as I say, what they would love out of such an important collaboration from their pilot director?
    Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 05-23-2021, 10:27 AM. Reason: Added tags

  • #2
    I haven't made it that far, but my first thought was James Burrows as he's the king of TV Pilots in my head.


    • #3
      Totally normal for a director coming on board to ANY project - TV or feature - to want changes before pitching or submitting it to a studio or network. A few years ago a major producer optioned a TV pilot of mine and got his very major director friend on board. The director had a lot of "notes" for me and things he wanted to change before we pitched it to the networks (which we eventually did, all together and in person, although it didn't sell). I didn't agree with all of his changes but made them nonetheless because, well.... he's the director and his agents were the ones setting up the meetings with the networks. What's funny (or not) was that the pilot was almost an afterthought in the pitch meetings - just something at the very end that the producer and director kind of mentioned in passing to the network executives: "By the way we do have a pilot for you to read if you want to read it." And their reaction was always; "Hey that's awesome you actually wrote a pilot for it, too! Sure - pass it along." Anyway - hopefully that sheds some light on the situation for you