Photos. House of Cards at USC.

March 5, 2015. Los Angeles.

Actor Michael Kelly and director James Foley discuss their craft and career with USC students following a screening of season three, episode one of House of Cards.

It was a full house, standing room only.

I had heard it was a good show but don’t have Netflix and hadn’t seen it at all. I’m always eager, perhaps annoyingly so, asking working actors while at the agency questions about theater and on-camera gigs, this could be a chance to hear just that kind of thing. Luckily there wasn’t too much in the way of fan canon minutia and plenty of industry experience imparted.

Acting theory and technique, practicalities of memorizing scripts. (I really really liked that Michael, who plays Doug Stamper, basically said it’s putting in the time.) Working with different directors, including actress Robin Wright.

For directing, how to go from having one’s style or voice define a work to working within a shared series, how episodes are assigned, changing tact with different actors.

For both of them, what it’s like working on this kind of production, compared to other series or films. Other things that came up included filming in Baltimore. In answering what it’s like working with production company MRC (Media Rights Capital), exec notes (or lack of them in this case) got a laugh. I think everyone who spends any amount of time in the industry hears their share of notes, yes, even or especially ones trying to break in, so it’s nice to get some commiseration.

Another question that got a laugh was from a young French lady who commented on its popularity in countries such as France, then asked if they worried about its effect on perception of US politics abroad. I’m guessing it’s bad and therefore are they worried it’ll make other countries think poorly of America. Michael laughed and said, Oh, we know what France thinks of us. (I don’t think most Americans have any delusions of how we’re perceived abroad.)

Mr. Foley gave a little history lesson on maybe why TV has been historically a writer vs director medium and how it can change as we progress. He chatted a bit about how he’s grown from when he directed Glengarry Glen Ross, which I’ll have to rewatch and compare to the series when I get a chance.

Ah. A young man tried to help me by telling me I should up my ISO. My camera goes up to 1600 and I was quite far back, so that was as fast and as long an exposure as I was going to get. Not ideal and I don’t think the photos turned out as well. But I really enjoyed the panel. Everyone seemed happy to be there, both on stage and in the audience.