Tag Archives: House of Cards

Photos. James Foley

Director, James Foley
Director, James Foley

It was a very well attended event, the seats were all taken. So while the House of Cards episode was screening, before the panel, I went back out to the lobby. Mr. Foley was there talking to a couple HOC crew members and someone I take to be an aspiring director. I explained I had asked to photograph the panel, but would like to take some photos now if he wouldn’t mind.

I could have used a fill or key light in front, but worked with what I had. And he was a good subject. It’s surprising how well some panelists take to being photographed. It’s not about looking into the camera, it’s the way they react, or don’t. Incidentally, sometimes actors are not very good subjects.

I was going for a Shakespearean tone, A Man for All Seasons pensiveness.

He seemed at ease, I picked the ones that were a little more dramatic. He just continued his conversation and let me get my shots. Actors can apparently learn to direct from being around directors and being directed often enough, I wonder if being around sets and seeing general “rules” of what to do in front of a camera make some more natural subjects.

I use these opportunities to teach myself photography. I’d be curious how different my shots would be if I had a newer camera, or I’d like to see someone I respect using the same camera as mine and see what they would do differently. If I went to film school I suppose it would be for cinematography.


This is the initial shot I took of the group. But I wanted the camera gear to be more prominent. I thought of asking Mr. Foley to move toward the exhibit, but thought of another way. Can you guess? Continue reading

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.