Monday, August 15, 2016

Q&A with Major Crimes' Director, Stacey K. Black

Director Stacey K. Black shooting Blue Moon 3

Director Stacey K. Black is visiting Mystery Playground today. She's here to tell us why she loves being a director, how she prepares for each episode and how directing Major Crimes is different than directing The Closer. Stacey directed the episode of Major Crimes that airs tonight, and she has another great project about to launch.

You can find Stacey on twitter @StaceyKBlack and you can see her director reel on her website.

Shooting Send My Mail to Nashville

What drove you to become a director? 

Actually, I was trying to become a screenwriter, while working as a hairstylist on films and tv. No one would take me seriously as a writer because I hadn't had anything produced. 

So finally, I decided to shoot a short film I had written, "Blue Moon," so I would have something to show people, "here, I wrote THIS!" And I figured, I'd just direct it myself. Thinking, "how hard could it really be?" WELLLLL! As it turns out, pretty damn hard! But too late! I was immediately bitten by the directing bug. 

So, I wrote and directed another short a couple years later, "The Truth is Underrated" (starring “Major Crimes” star Phillip P. Keene), then, while doing hair on "The Closer," I approached Michael Robin, Executive Producer, and asked for a shot at directing. And, he and the other Ep’s actually made it happen.

Since then, I've directed 6 episodes of "Major Crimes," 2 episodes of "The Closer," and will be directing an episode of "NCIS New Orleans" this fall.

How do you go about preparing to direct an episode? 

It's ALL about the prep. Breaking down the script for story, story, story! Staging the actors, blocking the shots, creating the shot list, and most importantly, making sure the audience has the same emotional reaction while watching the episode, as I did when I first read it. The director is the surrogate for the audience. 

Do you watch the episodes you don't direct?

Of “Major Crimes?” Absolutely! I am a huge fan of the show, and they are my family!

What is your favorite part about directing in general? 

Storytelling. And solving the gigantic jigsaw puzzle that each script is.

On Major Crimes specifically?

Working with people I love so much, who are still helping me learn and grow. When I direct that show, the crew makes sure the net they hold under me has no holes.  At all.

You also directed episodes of The Closer. What differences do you see in directing the two shows?

I directed 2 episodes of "The Closer." "Major Crimes" is more of an ensemble show. James Duff and his writers have been delving more into the personal lives of the squad and letting us know them better.  Which is lovely.

Stacey directs Major Crimes episode 414

What is the most challenging aspect of directing a Major Crimes episode?

I think it's the same challenge as directing ANY tv show. The schedule. The schedule is always a bear. There's a joke, that when you show up in the morning to start shooting an episode of tv, you're already an hour behind. Funny, not funny! This goes back to prep. You better show up to set, every day, prepped to the sky, with about 3 plans for each scene. Aaaaaand GO!

How do the actors respond to you when they have multiple directors throughout the season?

The actors want directors to show up prepared and in tune with the show and their characters. Every director. Because I started as their Hairstylist, one might expect the actors to treat me differently, but I don't think they do. They treat me like any other director. But these are all seasoned pros, so I would advise any director to show up VERY prepared, with a great knowledge of the characters. All actors respond favorably to directors who pay attention.  

What advice would you give to anyone who aspires to direct?

You better have that fire in your belly. You better love it, because directing is not for the faint of heart. From the schedule to the stress, it can beat you down, but it you love it - like I actually do - the sense of fulfillment is so worth it! Also, take acting classes! You want to know the actor's process.

What do you wish people knew about your job?

Working in film and tv is not glamorous. The glamour is the awards shows. The actual work is arduous, it takes up all of your time. So, being in this business solely for fame and money, and not to feed your personal fire, well… I can’t imagine that. It’s too hard to be in if you don’t absolutely love it.

What other projects have you been working on?

I'm currently in pre-production on a web series based on a pilot script I wrote, called "Trouble Creek."  I'm producing and directing it with Shea E. Butler, who is a wildly talented writer and director, and whose day job is Script Supervisor, currently working on "Major Crimes." "Trouble Creek" is about a small pretty town, with big ugly secrets...  Check out our channel for fun behind-the-scenes content, before we launch! But when you visit, beware... There's Something in the Water... 


  1. How terrific and what an accomplishment Stacye! This was a wonderful interview giving up an even greater appreciation for all directors.

  2. It sounds like hard work, but you can tell she loves every minute of it. I love how it's like a puzzle and she has to put the pieces together.

  3. Very interesting post. Really appreciate the insight. Sounds like it takes a lot of patience. I don't have that much. Kudos to you, lady.