005: Directing for TV: what to expect script to screen (Guest: Betty Thomas)
Play • 31 min

Betty Thomas is a film & TV director having directed some of the biggest names in Hollywood. She is also the first woman ever to be the Secretary/Treasurer of the Director’s Guild of America. Fun note: all of her films are in the top twenty-five highest-US-grossing female-directed films.

Host Jenn Page and Betty Thomas talk about what to expect and is expected of you when working as a TV director, how to win your crew over on day one, how to keep a healthy (positive) mentality on set, and much more. Plus, she tells us how she got her first directing gig on TV and it’s both hilarious and fascinating.

Intuitive Conversation: creating a healthy set

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Hosted by: Jenn Page, Filmmaker

More on Betty:

Betty Thomas (born Betty Lucille Nienhauser, July 27, 1948) is an American actress, director, and producer of television and motion pictures. She is known for her Emmy Award-winning role as Sergeant Lucy Bates on the television series Hill Street Blues. As of March 2018, Thomas is one of just two directors (and the only solo director) to have multiple films on the list of seventeen highest-US-grossing female-directed films. Additionally, all of her films are in the top twenty-five highest-US-grossing female-directed films.

After having lied to a Variety reporter about planning on directing a Hooperman episode, she was given a real opportunity by the show's executive producer, and from there her directing career began.[13] After making several other acting appearances, Thomas began directing episodes of Hooperman in addition to the premiere episodes of Doogie Howser, M.D. in 1989. She went on to direct episodes of Arresting Behavior and several episodes of the HBO series Dream On, the latter of which earned her an Emmy for best director. Thomas is nicknamed "The Midnight Queen" because of her preference for nighttime shoots.

In 1992 Thomas took the next step in her directing career with her feature debut Only You. A slight, playful romantic comedy; Only You was a departure from Thomas's experience on Hill Street Blues or her subsequent television directing. Wayne Rice, the film's producer and screenwriter, said that Thomas was chosen to direct due in part to the film's plot in which a man is on a hapless quest to find the perfect woman would be considered inherently sexist without a female director.

Three years following the release of Only You Thomas directed The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), a satirical vision of the 1970s television series The Brady Bunch. The Brady Bunch Movie was a box office hit with domestic ticket sales of $46,576,136, nearly quadrupling its $12 million budget and making it at the time one of the highest-grossing films directed by a woman.

She followed The Brady Bunch Movie with other successes, including Private Parts (1997), Dr. Dolittle (1998), 28 Days (2000), and John Tucker Must Die (2006). 2009's Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel became the first female-directed picture to gross more than $200 million and made her the most successful woman director to that time at the box office. In 2012, Thomas directed a low-budget online series called Audrey for the WIGS YouTube channel.

In 2001, Thomas won the Dorothy Arzner Directors Award of the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards, presented by the Los Angeles chapter of the Women in Film Organization

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