Outtakes: DDK makes ‘Five-0′ directing debut
BY MIKE GORDON / firstname.lastname@example.org
When he gave actor Daniel Dae Kim the green light to direct an episode of “Hawaii Five-0,” executive producer Peter Lenkov, the showrunner who oversees everything on the series, told him to relax and have fun.
Well Kim may have had fun, but being relaxed wasn’t part of his first directing effort, which airs at 8 p.m. Friday.
“Preparation is so important as a director,” Kim said. “I lost sleep thinking about what the next day would hold for me and all the potential questions I might be asked.”
The episode, “Kuka‘awale,” which is Hawaiian for “Stakeout,” was shot over seven days last month. Kim planned every shot and then made contingency plans in case of problems, such as bad weather or lighting.
It was a lot to think about.
“As an actor you prepare your work and by no means is that insignificant,” he said. “But when you’re directing you need to have answers for every single department for every element of the show. If you’re not ready the crew and the actors and the department heads can tell.”
Kim said the episode will feature an extended “cargument” between characters Steve McGarrett and Danno, who are played by Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan. The episode focuses on the crimefighting during a stakeout. They’re trying to catch a woman who escaped from a diamond robbery.
Emmy Award-winning actress Cloris Leachman and Emmy-nominated comic Jon Lovitz headline the guest stars.
Lenkov, who also writes for the show, said directing is a good experience for actors who are ready to take the helm.
“I think they learn to understand what we have to go through and maybe seeing the other side of the process makes you respect the process,” Lenkov said.
It took a year to finalize the arrangement, and Kim used the time to study his surroundings. Like most TV shows, “Five-0″ relies on a stable of directors who drop in and out of the season. Kim said he consulted directors Joe Dante (“Gremlins”), Sylvain White (“Person of Interest,” “The Mentalist”) and Larry Teng, who directed “Five-0’s” 100th episode.
He likened the experience to knowing only the surface of the ocean and then being given a scuba mask and a chance to see what lies below.
“Often when we are doing a job, we look at that job through our own filter,” Kim said. “I focused on trying to learn how a director views a show.”
Lenkov said Kim had an advantage over most visiting directors.
“A lot of directors watch episodes and try to get the tone of the show and it’s a crapshoot,” Lenkov said during a break in editing. “Directors come in and don’t have the luxury of seeing every episode we have done and Daniel has. And I think Daniel wanted to try and do things we haven’t done before.”
Kim said he would welcome another episode to direct, but even if that never happens, he’s already benefited from the experience. Having what he called a 360-degree view of his industry will inform his acting with something he didn’t have before.
“It makes me a better actor,” he said. “From now on, when I am working on a project, I will be able to see it through a director’s eyes and have a clearer vision of how to tell a story.”
Mike Gordon covers film and television in Hawaii for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter. Read his weekly “Outtakes” column Sundays in the Star-Advertiser.