“Write it dramatically, write it cinematically, make it intriguing. Make it emotional. Move me.”
WME story editor Christopher Lockhart
“One of the storyteller’s main responsibilities is to resonate in the audience’s psyche a certain something at the end of it all, to emotionally move the audience.”
Oscar-nominated director Arthur Hiller (Love Story)
‘Emotionally Move the Audience’
Did you know there is an interesting connection between Game of Thrones director David Nutter and Pro Football Hall-of-Fame quarterback Jim Kelly? Back in the early 80s both were students at the University of Miami. (I was there and for a fleeting moment crossed paths with both of them on their way to greatness.)
Kelly went on to become the only quarterback in history to led an NFL team to four consecutive Super Bowls. Nutter on the other hand made his first feature in 1985 (Cease Fire) with an up and coming actor named Don Johnson. Then he directed an episode of 21 Jump Street with another up and coming actor named Johnny Depp. Then episodes of ER with yet another up and comer named George Clooney.
Nutter’s career has continued to rise directing 19 pilot TV programs that DGA magazine said has resulted in an unprescedented 17 that have been picked up for series, and “He’s had a pilot earn a primetime slot 16 of the last 18 years, and in 2003 accomplished the rare feat of going two-for-two.”
He’s directed episodes of The Sopranos, The West Wing, The X-Files, Homeland, The Pacific—as well as the red wedding episode of Game of Thrones. Nutter earned a front row seat—sitting in a director’s chair— to what’s been called the golden age of television. So what attracts him to a TV script?
“I have an overall deal with Warner Bros. Television and my guiding light there is Peter Roth who’s the president and he’s someone that understands that whenever I do read material it has to move me. I have to be touched by it—it has to have heart. It has to have something that affect me in some respects.
In the last several years a lot of the pilot I’ve done have been pilots that actually have a certain ilk to them. What I mean by that is the fact that my father died when I was a year and a half old and I basically grew up without a father and I’ve kind of been drawn by broken families to some respect in the stories that I’ve told. Supernatural; two brothers looking for their father after their mother had dies. The Sarah Connor Chronicles in which the father was gone—it was a single mother situation. I did a series called Jack & Bobby which was a pilot I really enjoyed doing that was on for a short time about a single mother and her two sons.
And also doing stories about characters that actually have no choice to do what they do, but have to—are compelled to do what they do. Simon Baker and The Mentalist; basically a man had killed his wife and daughter and [became] someone who was to become this crime fighter, and somebody that actually about saving people’s lives. And if you go back to the various pilots I’ve done —Smallville, young Clarke Kent who is someone that is an orphan in some respects and doesn’t know if he’s an alien or a human being or what he’s all about, and what he’s capable of doing, and where he’s going. And to me that was a great story of telling a story of a young man who’s basically trying to find himself—as all teenagers are trying to find themselves to understand what they’re all about…So to me, story such as that are something that are really important to me.”
Primetime Emmy-winning Director David Nutter (Band of Brothers)
On the Page podcast interview with Pillar Alessandra