A Director Prepares: Bobby Roth’s Master Class


This course will be FREE to festival pass holders !

A Director Prepares takes viewers on a journey through every stage of film production. We tell the story of how film is made from the unprecedented perspective of one working director’s collaborations with over fifty industry professionals––all of whom have worked with Bobby on at least one project.

These extensive interviews include actors, showrunners, editors, cinematographers, and more. Paired with never-before-seen B-Roll, Bobby’s own production documents (such as scripts, shot lists, and storyboards), and clips from dozens of finished shows, A Director Prepares compresses an entire film school education into a ten-part series.

Through case studies from Bobby’s diverse and extensive background in both film and television, we examine the whole process from script to shot list to dailies to finished product. We compare Bobby’s work on iconic television shows like Lost, Prison Break, and Grey’s Anatomy, to his own independent features, such as Heartbreakers, Jack the Dog, Berkeley, and Manhood, and showcase the different learning experiences that directing television can offer for independent filmmakers, and vice versa.

This dual approach is unique to documentaries about directing, and offers a fresh platform for learning the craft.

We emphasize the extensive preparation and time-management needed for the frenetic pace of network drama, the creative freedom and possibilities of independent cinema, and the ways these complement each other. Interviews with industry professionals on both sides of the film and television divide reveal the ways television directing makes you a more efficient filmmaker, and that bringing to television the humanist storytelling of independent cinema makes you a better visionary on the small screen, as well.

At the core of Bobby’s method in both film and television is the dictum to prepare extensively in order to be present for the actors during production.

A Director Prepares is divided into ten episodes of about twenty minutes apiece, each detailing a key stage of filmmaking. We begin with breaking down a script and collaborating with casting directors, production designers and cinematographers. We then move into several episodes on production and how to get actors to do what you want. Later episodes detail issues of post-production, with a focus on working with editors, and the final episode addresses the business element: how to get hired and how to get brought back to shows.


Bobby Roth was born and raised in Los Angeles. He studied philosophy and creative writing at UC Berkeley before graduating with a BA in Cinema from USC in 1972. He went on to film school at UCLA, where he received his MFA in Motion Picture Production in 1975. Since then he has directed more than eighty episodes of television, twenty-five TV movies, and thirteen feature films. He was a founding member of the Independent Feature Project and the first Co-Chairman of the DGA’s Independent Feature Committee. His films have won countless awards and have been exhibited in over 100 international film festivals. He also teaches film seminars throughout the world. He still resides in Los Angeles, actively working in the entertainment industry.

Episode 1 Preparation & Imagination

Wednesday, 29 June: 12 noon AND Friday, 1 July: 3pm


Some schools of thought regarding film production emphasize spontaneity and the freedom of “winging it.” This is not one of them. This episode offers an overview of Bobby’s method, which emphasizes extremely disciplined preparation that allows you to be free in the moment, principally for the actors, and allows you flexibility for contingencies. An extensive case study from Prison Break helps illuminate the importance of prep work and how it can pay off.

Episode 2 How to Read a Script

Wednesday, 29 June: 12:30noon AND Friday, 1 July: 3:30pm


It may seem self-explanatory, but how a director reads a script has a large impact on the way s/he prepares. This episode looks at how various key collaborators, such as first assistant directors, cinematographers, and editors, read a script in different ways, and emphasizes the many different kinds of re-readings required of directors. It also examines strategies for improving scripts under the crunch of production schedules.

Episode 3 Designing Shots

Wednesday, 29 June: 6:30pm AND Saturday, 2 July: 9am


One of the main elements of prep, in both film and television, is producing the shot list. This episode covers not only what a shot list is, how it should look, and whom to give it to, but also how to imbue camera instructions with emotion and personal investment. Extensive case studies from Lost and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. demonstrate the way personal experience can and should affect everything from lens choice to camera placement.

Episode 4 Casting

Wednesday, 29 June: 7:00pm AND Saturday, 2 July: 9:30am


Perhaps the single most make-or-break element of directing is casting. It is also the element of directing that differs most between film and television production. This in-depth look at lessons learned from both film and TV, with case studies from Bobby’s independent films Manhood and Jack the Dog, as well as guest casting experiences on Lost, offers practical lessons in how to cast across media, when to trust your intuition and when to listen to casting directors, and which common casting mistakes are easy to avoid.

Episode 5 Time

Thursday, 30 June: 12noon AND Saturday, 2 July: 12 noon


Ever-present in the high-stakes world of film production is the element of time. This episode covers the elements directors need to consider when collaborating with first assistant directors on building a schedule for the shoot, from juggling locations to working with different styles of cinematographer, and dealing with light, contingencies, and actors’ schedules.

Episode 6 Collaboration

Thursday, 30  June: 12:30pm AND Saturday, 2 July: 12:30 noon


The director’s role is like a conductor in an orchestra, synthesizing different components by working with heads of multiple departments. This episode takes a unique look at building and maintaining relationships with your crew, and examines one of most students’ greatest anxieties about filmmaking: what to do when the collaborative process breaks down and relationships on set go sour.

Episode 7/8 How to Get Actors to Do What You Want, Parts I & II

Thursday, 30 June: 5-6pm AND Sunday, 3 July: 9:30 - 10:30 am


At the very core of the craft of directing is working with actors. Central to the Bobby Roth method of directing is to prepare as extensively as possible in preparation in order to be available to the actors during production. During production, time is especially precious, and actors require great attention and sensitivity to deliver their best performances. In this double-episode, we take an extended look at the question Bobby is most frequently asked by students and young filmmakers: how do you get actors to do what you want? Interviews with more than twenty leading actors shed a diverse array of insights into what is expected of directors and the best strategies for building productive working relationships with them.

Episode 9 Editing

Friday, 1 July: 12 noon AND Sunday, 3 July: 2pm


If casting is the key ingredient of prep, and working with actors is the focus of production, then editors are the main character of post-production. This episode looks at the fast-spaced editing in the television world and compares it with the more flexible possibilities of independent cinema, uncovering multiple lessons that can be gleaned from each. In the end, editing is another type of writing, an essential tool for directors to craft their visions.

Episode 10 The Business

Friday, 1 July: 12:30 noon AND Sunday, 3 July: 2:30pm


The final episode looks outside the process of production itself towards what many film students find an even more urgent topic: the business of getting hired, raising funds, and getting brought back to work again. This episode focuses on interviews with showrunners, agents, and executives, who candidly illuminate the hierarchies at work in the hiring process of television, and how to build a career making movies.