Interview: Eureka’s Salli Richardson-Whitfield Talks About Being a First Time Director

America’s smartest little town, Eureka, is known for its brilliant minds. Although Salli Richardson-Whitfield is not the head of some secret military facility or medical staff in real life, she does run the show from time to time…literally. Who knew she could direct the cast as well as she directs Global Dynamics?

We had the opportunity to sit down with the woman who plays a mother, leader, and love interest. So in essence, a real woman. During the interview you could tell she had a lot in common with Allison Blake: she’s graceful under pressure, smart as a whip, and one classy dame.

The Flickcast: We heard you’ll get the opportunity to direct an episode of Eureka this season. What’s it like to direct?

Salli Richardson-Whitfield: It’s something I’ve been wanting to do. Last season I wanted to do it and then I was pregnant and it’s not the best time to be directing for my first time. I would have been hormonally a little difficult.

But they’ve been very generous in giving me this opportunity and I’ve been taking it very seriously … The thing on the show is, once you decide you want to direct, once you start paying attention, you realize everything you haven’t been paying attention to. So, every director that comes on finds me sitting there. As they turn around, they bump into me because I’m sitting there and I’m like, “Well why did you do that?”

(When I’m directing) I’ll go to my DP and say this is what I wanted to do, would this have worked? There’s things you have to consider, a lot of it is time management. So it’s not just directing, it’s well this scene is not important so we need to just shoot it. This one I can have a lot of fun with, we can spend a little time. That’s the things I didn’t really know that you have to consider.

I have a great DP and he doesn’t mind every day, he’ll see me in there, and I’ll go Rick, “This is what I was thinking, we’d go here, we’d push in here, then we’d get this coverage.” Either he’ll go that’s great, completely doable, different but perfect or he’d go, “Ok, well, you might want to think about this and that might have taken a little more time, so that’s something to consider.” That’s what I’ve been doing to get ready.

And if I have a question, I’ll come ask you, I have no problem needing help. But, I know what I’m doing and I know what I don’t know. Don’t come try to baby me, that’s not me. One of our line producers keeps saying, “I haven’t had a woman director who didn’t break down crying.” I was like, “I promise you- you will not see me cry here. It will not happen. You will not break me down (laughing).”

TF: What inspired you to direct?

SRW: You know I didn’t in the beginning. I don’t think that I ever thought it was possible or that’s something I should be thinking about.

I did an independent film during one of my breaks of the show. This filmmaker, who’s a woman, (it was) her first time directing, and because I’ve been in TV for so long we needed to move quick.

It was her feature and of course she directed everything, but there were times when I was like, “Don’t worry about getting that shot, we‘re going to be in the same location tomorrow, we can just shoot this and we can do this.” She’s looking at me and she goes, “You need to direct.” I go, “I’m so sorry, am I being so annoying?”, she goes, “No, no, no you’re being helpful. But, you need to direct, you obviously feel comfortable and you know what needs to be done. You should really start thinking about it.”

So, I was so happy to call her and say, “Guess what I’m doing, I’m directing this season.” She’s like, “Get out of here!” So, she inspired me to do something I didn’t even know I should be doing.

  • Marvin !
    September 13, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    The best looking women on TV right now !

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