Humpday’s Lynn Shelton on Directing Last Night’s Mad MenBy GWYNNE WATKINS
To paraphrase Chekhov, Matt Weiner has spent much of Mad Men
season four placing guns on the stage — and in last night’s episode, he finally started shooting. “Hands and Knees” brought dramatic plot twists for Don, Joan, Roger, Lane, Pete — everyone, really, except Peggy, who was mercifully spared by being absent. It’s a little surprising, then, that this high-stakes episode was directed by Lynn Shelton, the auteur behind the understated indie comedy Humpday
. Before this episode, the Indie Spirit–winning, micro-budget director had never directed anything of Mad Men
's pedigree or scale. The filmmaker called us from her home in Seattle to talk about re-creating the Playboy Club, overseeing Don Draper’s panic attack, and working with actual scripted dialogue. I don’t even know where to start with this episode. It was epic.
It’s a whopper, isn’t it? It really is! It’s amazing. You could knock me over with a feather when I read the script. I couldn’t believe it. So, how did you get involved? Start from the beginning.
Well, I’ve just been up in the hinterlands of Seattle making movies my own weird way. And I never really saw myself intersecting with Hollywood at all, because I'd figured out a way to self-produce my own work. And then Humpday
made a little bit of a splash at Sundance in ’09, and I suddenly had fans in Hollywood. So I’m in development on some really cool projects with producers, and as those things take some time to launch, I was asking my rep, "Is there a way I can, like, make a living in meantime? Because I kind of need to pay my mortgage ... And they were like, well, you could direct TV ... Mad Men
was absolutely at the top of my list. Of course, I was a superfan. Just getting that meeting, I was so thrilled! I was like, "I don’t care." I cared, of course, but even if nothing comes of this, just to sit in Matt’s office for an hour and a half — I was beside myself with joy.So this is the first time you’ve done any TV?
Oh. Yeah. And it was such a huge, huge experience for me, because it was the first time I’d worked in L.A. on any kind of project, the first time I’d worked with an all-union crew — I had to join the union. I’d never set foot on a soundstage, much less directed on a soundstage. I remember when the production designer took me on this little tour of the set, and I was like, "I’m standing in Betty Draper’s kitchen!" It was a total mental disconnect, like I’ve gone through the looking glass, people! I shadowed the amazing Phil Abraham, for three and a half weeks during his prep period and on set when he was shooting episode eight, “The Summer Man.” It functioned as kind of a film school for me. It’s like, okay, this is how the big boys do it. ( Collapse )Source.This episode was so perfect. I did miss Peggy, though.