Aidy Bryant was planning on directing an episode of Shrill’s third and ultimate season on Hulu (on which she is already a star, author, and producer), which was scheduled to shoot in the summertime of 2020. She took the required DGA course and had the whole lot so as. But when the shoot stored getting pushed, lastly till the autumn, she must miss prep for the episode as a consequence of her Saturday Night Live schedule, the place she has been a forged member since 2012. So, simply as all of us discovered to pivot final 12 months, Bryant was ready to avoid wasting this dream for one more day.
Enter a constructive Covid check throughout filming, which was finally a false constructive, however one which despatched a handful of crew members into quarantine as a precaution, together with the scheduled director, although the remaining have been nonetheless allowed to shoot simply as the vacations have been approaching. It was advised that Bryant step into the director place, and as she stated, “For three or four days, I directed two episodes that were being block-shot. I [consulted with the original] director, who was quarantining and make sure everything was okay. But it was a wild, unexpected thing that happened.”
I spoke to Bryant as a part of Decider’s This Is What A Director Looks Like piece about her expertise main the manufacturing (in a fairly pink gown, no much less), what she’s excited for viewers to see in Season 3, and why she’s feeling optimistic about alternatives for girls within the business.
“Everything I’ve done over the last 10 years of working on sets all led to feeling like, Okay, I know the rhythm of set, and I know what these functions are, and in a very cool way on Shrill, most episodes we had a different director,” Bryant defined over Zoom. “So I got to experience all these different kinds and because I was there as a performer, but also as a writer, and producer, there were some directors who I worked more closely with. And because of that, it [felt] like getting to step into the director’s chair a little bit. I had always been going on location scouts and doing those kinds of more technical pieces of it as a producer, so I knew the process, which was very helpful. Also, I was working with a team that I’d been working with for three years on Shrill. I knew the DP, I knew all the camera [operators], it’s like, these are my friends and I felt very supported. It was best-case scenario, training wheels directing.” But it was additionally sufficient for her to catch the bug, as she hopes to do extra directing sooner or later. “I would love to do it where I’m not directing myself,” she stated. “Because it’s a lot of things at once, at least for these like quick days that we did. I also think it really is seeing all pieces of this project from all different sides. So yeah, I love it.”
Before she hopped into the director’s chair for Episodes 306 and 308, she did ask a earlier Shrill director, Natasha Lyonne, a couple of particular but shared side of the expertise. “The thing I was most concerned about was being able to be a very present director, but also a very present actor who could do both things,” Bryant stated. “The thing I grilled her on was how do you do both? I don’t want to spend the whole day being like, let me sit here and watch playback. Her great advice was, you rely on the second team. I relied so closely on my stand-ins because I could imagine myself performing it, or I knew what emotion we were trying to convey. Those types of things were things that I hadn’t really thought about before, and they are kind of like the nuts and bolts of executing both the physical vision, but also the emotional storytelling and hitting all those beats and making sure you’re covered.”
When I requested what it was like doing each directing and performing, Bryant stated, “Well, I guess what it was like was non-stop!” noting that normally the director and the actors get some downtime throughout a shoot, however on this situation, that was not the case. “This was just one of those things where it’s like, oh man, I’ve been going 12 hours now, and I haven’t stopped talking or moving or checking something or answering a question all day, but I love that and I find it very energizing.”
The job additionally stored her busy sufficient that she didn’t fairly have the time to take all of it in and actually acknowledge that she was formally a director. “I was so busy that I wasn’t feeling so wistful, it was more just like, okay, we’ve got to move if we’re gonna make this day. But there were a couple of moments where I’m acting, and then I finished the scene and said ‘cut’. There were so many times where I think our crew, it took them a beat, but those were fun moments to me because it was just like, yeah, I’m the director.”
Part of that might be as a result of as she was directing, she was nonetheless dressed as her character, Annie. “There were pieces of that for me that I was like, damn, I wish I had some pockets right now, but I’m in a little lady’s dress,” Bryant admitted. “There are some pretty funny pictures of me in America’s pinkest little dress, and I’m at the monitor with headphones on. I was like, I wish I didn’t have little heels on or I wish that I had more pockets. But I’ve felt very comfortable on sets as I am, not all made up, as a producer for many years now. So I didn’t feel too much pressure about that. I think more than dressing the part, it’s harder to sometimes act the part, which is to be firm, or push back or say, no, we’re good. We’re moving on. I think sometimes maybe because how I come off is super sweet or friendly, it can I think sometimes feel jarring to people. But I’ve gotten more comfortable doing that. That’s part of making something and having a vision and making sure it gets executed the way you want.”
That imaginative and prescient will play out this season, and as Bryant teased of the episodes, (*3*)
Bryant got here out of this expertise with a brand new appreciation for the puzzle that’s tv manufacturing. “I’ve always really valued the technical side, but to really see all those departments putting their heads together to problem solve is so impressive. What I realized is, of course, the director does a lot but it’s so much relying on these incredible department heads who are so capable and you’re communicating with them. You’re the director, but there’s this amazing web that makes it all happen.”
And she not solely hopes that extra girls get the possibility to direct, she’s additionally optimistic concerning the alternatives within the business proper now. “I think we’re far past the moment of people being like, can they do it? I feel like that’s not even a question anymore,” Bryant stated. “The main thing that I’ve noticed is in working with seasoned set designers and seasoned editors and all these people who have been working in the industry a long time, I was always surprised how much they said, wow, you guys, meaning you women, are so collaborative. You want to hear our opinions. I do think that’s something that the industry has a lot to gain from. Of course I have an ego, but I don’t hold it above the piece we’re trying to make. I always want people’s expertise, and then I can weigh my opinion and we can land on a place that we both feel satisfied. I get the sense that that’s not always the case with maybe a male director or a male showrunner. I’m sure there are all different types. I feel very much encouraged and a lot of my favorite stuff I’ve ever worked on were really strong female teams.”
“I think most women are innately pretty good listeners,” Bryant shared, and supplied the recommendation, “Use that skill, but also don’t be afraid to be a teller who says no. I certainly had moments where it can feel hard. You sometimes feel like I’m a 14-year-old girl with a backpack on being like, um, can we, whatever? And it’s like, no. I’m the boss, baby,” she laughed. “But I definitely love collaborating with female directors because there’s an incredible ability to listen, but also to direct and to be empathetic. That’s not always the case and I think the more work that female directors can take on, the richer our film and television world will be.”
Shrill Season 3 arrives on Hulu this Friday, May 7.