Last week, the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles hosted a full house at Warner Bros’ Screening Room with special guest Ken Kwapis. Students watched The Office, Season 2´s FINALE “CASINO NIGHT”- directed by Ken – followed by a 25 minute reel of Ken’s work. The reel included bits from (TV) The Office, Freaks & Geeks, Outsourced and (FILMS) Big Miracle, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, He´s Just Not That Into You, and License to Wed. Producer Tova Laiter moderated the Q&A with the long time film and television director/producer, who has also worked on hit shows like, The Larry Sanders Show, Malcolm in the Middle, and The Bernie Mac Show.
Ken discussed the recent growth in popularity for directing television, admitting the role wasn’t as “prestigious” when he first started out. “Films were the rage and television was seen as secondary,” said Kwapis. “The big screen allows you to expose things in a way where images tell a story,” whereas television “is a largely verbal medium.” He did note, however, that television series gives more time for depth on certain issues. He considers himself “blessed to be able to keep one foot in both worlds.”
Ken also spoke about working on The Office with Steve Carrell and how he allowed the crew to experiment or “make certain mistakes” to enhance the show´s style. He encouraged struggling filmmakers to go out and make their own shorts. He likes to focus on the heart of personal stories and thinks it´s “important to focus on the process while filmmaking.” Notably, he stressed how important it is to “not get distracted by the noise in the business, so that you don´t stop hearing your own voice.”