Fully embracing a recent mission to champion the unsung, trench-digging heroes of Hollywood kicked off by last week's introduction of their scribecentric Scriptland feature, the LAT today presents the first installment of Made-for-TV-Movie Directorville, which will explore the lives and work of the small-screen auteurs behind projects as wide-ranging as AMC's celebrated Broken Trail and less-appreciated masterpieces like Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?. The Times kicks off the new column by illustrating the MFTVM director's uphill battle for respect and recognition:
"If a person is sitting down to write about a film that just opened — good, bad or indifferent — they have to say something about the director," said director Jeff Bleckner ("Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story").
"When they sit down to write about TV films, often they don't even know that anybody directed it. A lot of people don't even think the movie was directed by anybody." [...]
[Director Jane] Anderson recalled that while waiting to learn if she would be given the green light to direct her 2005 feature "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio," the movie executives kept referring to her as a "first time" director.
"Even though it was going to be my fifth film," she said. "They kept saying, 'We don't know if you can direct children' — even though the ... films I did had children in them. I was basically an amateur as far as they were concerned."
We hesitantly admit that we were shamefully ignorant of the fact that these made-for-TV movies were helmed by actual directors, laboring under the misguided impression that credit for these projects was just randomly assigned to unemployed DGA members to keep them eligible for health insurance. But with the Times' stirring, sympathetic coverage of their second-class citizenship, we're sure the exclusive walls of the industry's antiquated caste system will soon come crumbling down, and they'll soon be embraced wholeheartedly by the film professionals who once ignored their work.