“[A Director Prepares] will inform, entertain, and inspire those new to the industry. Highly recommended.”
––Library Journal

“Nicely filmed and edited with flair, A Director Prepares provides valuable lessons about preparation prior to shooting and how one can combine efficiency with creative spontaneity in overseeing the making of a film or TV program. Recommended.”
––Video Librarian

Having received high praise from throughout the academic world and entertainment industry, A Director Prepares: Bobby Roth’s Masterclass is an essential teaching and research tool for students in:

  1. Film and Television Production
  2. Drama, Acting, and Performance Studies
  3. Film Theory and Media Studies

This 10-part series is also a captivating documentary for anyone interested in film and entertainment or collaborative creative practice generally.


Our project aims to democratize cinematic production by empowering independent filmmakers everywhere with insights gained from Bobby Roth’s four decades of work in film and television. Our principal goal is to help independent filmmakers everywhere make more and better films.

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.

There are over 500 film programs in the US alone––double that number worldwide. Literally millions of people make their living––or aim to––in capacities directly related to filmmaking. This demographic is becomingly increasingly international and diverse in race, gender, and nationality.

At the center of this whole enterprise is the craft of directing for film and television, a position to which thousands of eager young people aspire. And yet the specific work involved in directing remains for most shrouded in mystery. Even at top film schools, many teaching directing have relatively limited working experience in the profession.

Bobby Roth’s Master Class fills a vital niche in the educational market by offering those interested in the world of film and television a look behind the scenes at the men and women who collaborate to produce entertainment. Our goal is for A Director Prepares to become the go-to textbook for filmmaking classes worldwide.

Bobby is uniquely qualified to undertake such an ambitious project: few, if any, directors with as much film and television experience as Bobby also have his experience teaching in university classrooms.

He received his MFA in filmmaking from UCLA in 1975 and has since taught intensive film seminars in Los Angeles at USC, AFI, and Art Center, as well as around the world––in Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney, Istanbul, Paris, and more. And few filmmakers, if any, have worked so extensively directing both network television and independent feature films. Bobby has directed thirteen award-winning features, twenty-five television movies, and more than eighty episodes of network drama. His films have been exhibited in over 100 international film festivals, including Cannes, Berlin, and Sundance (where five of his films premiered, and where he was a judge in 1986).

Because the nature of directing is to collaborate with nearly every other position on the project, this documentary provides a unique vantage point for those interested in any part of the filmmaking process. Actors, editors and costume designers will benefit tremendously from this intensive crash course in filmmaking from the director’s perspective. Bobby Roth’s Master Class uniquely offers a look into the nuts and bolts of the film world from the singular perspective of his decades of personal experience with collaborators from every corner of the industry, and will be sure to interest anyone curious about film and television production in general. For the millions of fans of his work worldwide, A Director Prepares: Bobby Roth’s Master Class offers an exciting and informative look into the world of visual storytelling.

A Director Prepares is a riveting, fast-spaced video textbook that illuminates the craft of directing through lectures, demonstrations, and clips. At about twenty minutes each, ten individual episodes offer compact, digestible lessons distilled from Bobby and his collaborators’ decades of experience working in the business.

Episodes begin with a “cold open” featuring an anecdote or vignette from Bobby’s own classrooms. We then jump into interviews that expand upon, enrich, and even complicate the basic lesson. From interviews we intercut with clips that showcase the finished works produced by Bobby and the collaborators being interviewed, illuminating the process of filmmaking from rough materials to polished drama.

A Director Prepares is educational, but it feels like a film. Each episode tells a story, such as how to read a script, how to write a shot list, or how to work with actors. Each episode involves at least one extensive case study that details a production lesson from a particular show. And each episode ends with a “tag” that summarizes the content of the various interviews and distills valuable lessons about film and television production.

As a supplement to the video content, the project’s website will serve as an interactive community for filmmakers to connect with Bobby and each other, and have access to additional materials from Bobby’s extensive archive: scripts, shot lists, breakdowns, storyboards, and a vast library of journal entries detailing the challenges of Bobby’s storied career in television and motion picture arts. These supplementary materials will be made available to anyone with access to the documentary itself, and will showcase in even greater detail the specific challenges of filmmaking and the strategies that were–or in some cases were not–successful in overcoming them.

Bobby Roth’s Master Class stands alone for university and popular audiences, dovetails excellently with existing film courses that wish to use it as a supplementary text, and offers a wonderful opportunity when screened in conjunction with teaching and speaking appearances by Bobby himself.



Henry Winkler – BERKELEY
Chandra Wilson – GREY’S ANATOMY

Michael Emerson – LOST
Rosanna Arquette – NOWHERE TO HIDE
Madeleine Stowe – REVENGE
Emily VanCamp – REVENGE
Dominic Purcell – PRISON BREAK
Peter Weller – RAINBOW DRIVE
Terry O’Quinn – LOST / MIAMI VICE
Chloe Bennet – MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Robert Knepper – PRISON BREAK
Tom Morello – BERKELEY
Nestor Carbonell – LOST / JACK THE DOG / MANHOOD
Jerry Wasserman – NOWHERE TO HIDE

Other Key Crew

Marsha Ross – HEARTBREAKERS – casting director
Linda Lowy – GREY’S ANATOMY – casting director
Ramin Djawadi – PRISON BREAK – composer
Stephen Storer – FLASH FORWARD – production designer
Mark Kolpack – AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – visual effects supervisor
Nicole Rubio – GREY’S ANATOMY – script supervisor
Neil Rapp – HEARTBREAKERS – production manager
Jill Ohanesson – REVENGE – costume designer
Donovan Terranova – PRISON BREAK – location manager
Beau Baker – GREY’S ANATOMY – sound mixer


Carlton Cuse – LOST
Mike Kelly – REVENGE
Nick Santora – PRISON BREAK


John Bartley – LOST
John Smith – REVENGE
Greg Middleton – SHATTERED


David Greenspan – GREY’S ANATOMY

Assistant Directors

Maileen Williams – MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Richard Schroer – LOST / THE INHERITANCE
Marty Schwartz – MIAMI VICE

Episode 1 Preparation & Imagination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

About the Filmmakers

Bobby Roth

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.

John Smith

John Smith is a cinematographer whose credits include Revenge, Brothers and Sisters and Cold Case. Born in the UK, John grew up in Los Angeles where an interest in urban photography led him to attend film school at San Francisco State University. His career began in the lighting department, gaffing television shows, music videos and commercials. During this time John was honing his skills as a large format photographer, winning multiple awards and commissions for his black and white photography. A rich background in lighting and photography led him to begin shooting episodic television; and though the tools have changed the principles of good narrative story-telling with a camera have not. John’s work has been featured in American Cinematographer Magazine. He lives with his wife and two greyhounds in Los Angeles.

Nick Roth

Nick Roth has a twin background in film and academia. He has worked in nearly all facets of film and television production: writing, editing, producing, and occasionally starring in a number of award-winning shorts, documentaries, television shows, music videos and feature films. His most recent short, Coming To, premiered at Slamdance 2015 where it won the jury’s Grand Prize for Fearless Filmmaking. Nick also has a PhD in English from Cornell University, where for three years he taught film and writing, and was awarded the Martin Sampson Distinguished Teaching Award in 2013. His dissertation offers the first book-length study of novels and short stories written using screenplay formatting.

Jesse Kane

Jesse Kane is an efficient and clean editor with an eye for detail who works well under pressure and tight deadlines.  Having worked for many years on both Avid and Final Cut Pro, he has recently returned to Los Angeles from New York working for ABC on a Barbara Walters Special, several 20/20 segments, a few Good Morning America spots, Nightline and What Would You Do? His previous work includes editor and segment producer for the largest provider of uncensored celebrity news and entertainment programming. He has produced hundreds of segments, helped in the development and look of several shows that have generated over 445-million views on YouTube and over 66-thousand subscribers. He is also the editor of several episodes of VH1 Classic One Hit Wonders and many segments on NBC’s Extra.



A Director Prepares offers a streaming option for individuals and a DVD option for libraries.

Streaming for Individuals

A sneak preview of A Director Prepares is available starting July 1 on VHX. Click below to purchase the complete series now.

DVD for Libraries

Purchase this DVD for educational and public screenings that are free, haven’t been publicized, and include audiences of 50 or fewer individuals.

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Running Time: 216 minutes (in 10 episodes)
Region: 0 (unrestricted)
Release: 2016
Language: English
Closed Captioning: English
Subject Areas: Film and Television Production; Drama, Acting, and Performance Studies; Film Theory and Media Studies


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