October 1, 2009

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about working with Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage is how much they draw upon film history as inspiration for their shows. GOSSIP GIRL, CHUCK, ROCKVILLE, CA, and THE O.C. are all filled with movie references for the sharp viewer.


I often say that GOSSIP GIRL reminds me of the Warner Brothers melodramas of the late 1930’s and 1940’s. The Manhattan locations and the large sets lend themselves to the kind of camera movement and expressive dolly shots that you often see in some of these old films. Even though it’s hard to do on a television schedule, I enjoy collaborating with the DP in trying to integrate these kind of shots into every episode. I frequently study these films for ideas in terms of staging and framing.

Sometimes the reference is obscure or sometimes it’s pretty evident. The lighting and costumes of the following shot were inspired by EYES WIDE SHUT, but the shot itself was inspired by the french film RIDICULE and THE LETTER.

I wanted to do this pool shot for an episode of THE O.C. shortly after I saw the Pedro Almodovar film BAD EDUCATION:

The photos below show a shot from the first episode I directed for THE O.C. and the shot from RISKY BUSINESS that inspired it.


I always try to think of images that will linger in the memory and inspire the imagination of the viewer. The best way to do this, I think, is to steal from the best.


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