Lesli Linka Glatter Q&A: ‘Homeland’ director
“The fact that the show changes every season — for me, it’s been absolutely thrilling as a director because you’re always reinventing,” Lesli Linka Glatter reveals about challenges in her chat with Gold Derby (watch the exclusive video above). She is talking about “Homeland,” the espionage thriller on Showtime starring Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin, on which Glatter has served as the official in-house producing director since the third season. She scored an Emmy nomination for her show debut with the second-season episode “Q&A” and is submitting the sixth season finale titled “America First” for Emmy consideration this year in the Best Drama Directing race.
A two-time winner at the Directors Guild of America Awards (for a 2009 “Mad Men” episode and a 2014 “Homeland” episode), Glatter received her first of six nominations to date for “Twin Peaks.” She reveals, “It was my first series, it was — as a show — an incredible game changer and for me, a life changer. And being part of that team, working with David Lynch both as an actor and getting to know him as an incredible creative director mind was extraordinary for me as a new director. And there are certain things I learned from him that have totally impacted my whole career.” She recalls one such formative experience when Lynch unorthodoxly used a moose head in a scene that she still thinks about “all the time.” She explains, “Something cracked open for me creatively. It’s like come in with your plan, know what you want, but be sure you’re open to the moose head on the table. Be sure you’re open to the creative opportunities that present you, so that you’re open to life.”
An Oscar nominee (Best Live Action Short for 1984’s “Meeting and Parting”), Glatter has mostly kept to television across her career, noting, “It’s about the best possible story and telling it in the best possible way and now, we’re so used to seeing films, whether it’s on your computer, on your TV screen or in a movie theater, we’re so used to seeing things coming in all sorts of delivery systems, so I think you have to shoot TV like you shoot a film.” She clarifies her preference, “One of the things that’s exciting about working in TV right now is your really have to know what story you’re telling. If you only have ten days to tell your chapter of this longer novel, you need to know what to spend your time on, so you don’t want to be doing your most important scene at the end of the day where you’re rushing to get it done. You need to plan things, so you’re focused on what changes your story, what turns your story. And I think that’s exciting and I think that it makes you a better storyteller as a result.”
Glatter is outspoken about how television does not employ enough female directors, but she is the only woman who has directed “Homeland” in the last two seasons, as the eight guests directors with whom she worked were all men. Glatter admits, “I would love to bring more women in, but the hiring is a group event. It’s not just me; that would be great, but it’s not the world we’re in and again, we have a group of directors [that we reuse] that have been with us for a very long time.”
Before production of the seventh season of “Homeland” from mid-September to March (a new timeframe for the series), Glatter will direct the opening installments of the announced “Law and Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers” anthology. She says, “I’m really excited about that because this is a very complicated case that was tried in the media and I think it’s one that deals with celebrity, it deals with privilege and people think they know what happened and they actually don’t and I didn’t either, so that’s one of the reasons to tell it.”