A Conversation with Producer/Directors

September 19, 2022 An African American Steering Committee Virtual Event

On September 19, the African American Steering Committee (AASC) virtual meeting featured the panel discussion, A Conversation with Producer/Directors. In a conversation moderated by Committee Co-Chair Jeffrey W. Byrd (Yellowjackets), DGA Past President/Secretary Treasurer Paris Barclay (Station 19), and fellow Producer/Directors Pete Chatmon (Reasonable Doubt), Crystle Roberson (Queens) and Nicole Rubio (Chicago Med) spoke about a variety of subjects including how to get the job, best practices in the role, and navigating power dynamics and racial sensitivities.

Byrd opened up the conversation by asking Barclay about the duties of a Producer/Director and Barclay discussed the genesis of the job and the development of the DGA workshop designed to give members more information on the role of the Producer/Director in episodic television.

After each panelist shared their journey of how they got their first Producer/Director job, the conversation delved into details such as Roberson revealing that she views the role as one in which she shows up for cast and crew, bringing consistency to the production, thinking ahead in terms of schedule and upcoming needs. She said that she “takes the time to mentally prepare for the job and think about how she would like it to be and when the reality doesn’t align with that, she works to make it so.” She also emphasized that Producer/Directors should, “recognize the great work of others.”

Chatmon spoke about the tools he created for the guest Directors to his show – a deck of the visual elements of the show, suggestions on use of prep time and photos/bios of all the key people they would be working with. He focused on being accessible in prep and making sure that the production was respecting the guest Directors, specifically their creative rights. He worked to ensure there is a good vibe and energy, where people felt supported.

Rubio explained how when she was hired, she was given the greenlight to make improvements. To achieve that end, she created a LookBook and stylistically made changes. She added that one of the ways in which she leads is to let the cast and crew know, “We all have a job to do. We’re all working for one goal. So let’s do it.”

Barclay shared his Producer/Director philosophy, stating that he does not stay on set with the guest Director. He will come by to say hello, but by the time the episode is shooting the Director should be prepared to do the episode. “Prepare, Prepare, Prepare – and stay out of their way,” said Barclay. In a final piece of advice, he added “As a Producer/Director get to know the budget of the show, because that’s where a lot of the power comes from.”

See video from this event in the gallery below.

About the Panelists:
Paris BarclayParis Barclay
A preeminent force in television entertainment, Barclay has directed more than 150 episodes of television and was active as a Director/Producer for series including: Station 19PitchThe Bastard ExecutionerSons of AnarchyCold CaseCity of Angels and NYPD Blue. He also has directed episodes of HouseNCIS: Los AngelesThe Good WifeCSILostThe ShieldThe West Wing and ER; as well as the feature Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood; and the movies for television The Cherokee Kid, The Big Time and Pedro. He earned two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Direction of a Drama Series for NYPD Blue, received six additional Emmy nominations for both producing and directing, garnered ten DGA Award nominations and became the first Director in the history of the Guild to receive a comedy and a drama nomination in the same year, two years in a row (In Treatment and Weeds in 2008; In Treatment and Glee in 2009). He won the 1998 DGA Dramatic Series Award for his NYPD Blue episode “Heart and Souls.” A DGA member since 1992, Barclay was the first African-American and openly gay President in the Guild’s history. In addition to his two terms as President of the Guild, his service includes numerous terms on the National Board and Western Directors Council and chairmanship and participation in several committees. He was honored with the Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award in 2007, which is given for providing extraordinary service to the DGA. In 2021, he was honored with the DGA Honorary Life Member Award in recognition of leadership in the industry, contribution to the Guild and the profession of directing, and outstanding career achievement 
Pete ChatmonPete Chatmon
Chatmon’s directorial credits include the feature Premium; the documentary 761st; and episodes of The Flight AttendantInsecureSilicon ValleyLove LifeYouGrey’s AnatomyBlack-ishBlindspottingIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Mythic Quest. He is currently in development on The Education of Matt Barnes, for which he will direct the pilot and serve as Executive Producer. He also serves as Co-Executive Producer and Producing Director on Reasonable Doubt. He is the author of the book, Transitions: A Director’s Journey and Motivational Handbook. Chatmon joined the DGA in 2017. 
Crystle RobersonCrystle Roberson
Roberson’s directorial credits include the feature film Echo at 11 Oak Drive; the movie for television First Christmas; and episodes of BMFAll AmericanLong Slow ExhaleSacrificeDiary of a Future PresidentDelilahGreenleafAmerican SoulAmbitionsBiggerBlack Girls Guide to Fertility and Love Handles. She recently served as Producing Director of Queens and is currently directing The Gilded Age. Roberson has been a DGA member since 2018. 

Nicole RubioNicole Rubio
Rubio’s directorial credits include directed over 30 episodes of including episodes of Chicago FireChicago P.D., FBIGrey’s AnatomyA Million Little ThingsScandalHow to Get Away with MurderManifestCSI: Vegas and The Resident. She is currently the Producing Director of Chicago MED. Rubio has been a DGA member since 2013.  

Jeffrey W. Byrd Jeffrey W. Byrd (moderator)
Byrd’s directorial credits include the feature films King’s Ransom and A Beautiful Soul; the movies for television Seventeen Again and Jasper, Texas; and episodes of the series Switched at BirthRebel, the Hulu Series Marvel’s RunawaysThe OriginalsDynastyBlack LightningThe FlashCharmedas well as Our Kind of People where he also served as an Executive Producer. Recently, Byrd was the Producing Director on Our Kind of PeopleStar Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and he is the current Co-Executive Producer/Director on season two of the Emmy-nominated series, YellowjacketsA DGA member since 1999, Byrd is in his third term as a Co-Chair of the African American Steering Committee and has also served on the Western Directors Council and as the AASC Director category rep from 2018-2020. 

About the Committee:

The African American Steering Committee (AASC) was born of a desire to address the specific needs of the African-American members of the Directors Guild. One of the primary goals of the Committee is to establish a productive line of communication between African-American members and the creative community. The Committee meets monthly to plan events throughout the year celebrating the achievements of African-Americans, as well as forums with industry executives to proactively address what can be done to hire more African-Americans.

Pictures & Video

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