In this new golden age of television that we are currently living in, the television industry is poaching some of cinema’s greatest minds more than ever to create their own long form stories after being restricted to the hour and a half to maximum four hours that film allows. The gap is getting increasingly small between the two in terms of quality, and some would argue that TV has already overtaken film in some respects.
Steven Soderbergh, Guillermo del Toro, Eli Roth, Martin Scorsese, and Lars Von Trier have or are about to make the leap from the silver screen to the small screen with The Knick, The Strain, Hemlock Grove, and the upcoming Shutter Island prequel and The House That Jack Built. They’re not the first major filmmakers to create a show; both Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch famously did so with Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the landmark series Twin Peaks respectively.
But in this new world of endless possibilities for the medium that was formally dubbed the “idiot box”, any titan of film could have a creative spark and make the jump. The question we ask now is, who should give it a shot next?
Andrew Dominik has only directed three films in the last three years, 2000’s underrated Chopper, 2007’s extraordinary Oscar nominated The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and 2012’s flawed but entertaining Killing them Softly. His output may be small but his films have been fine-tuned achievements that are both stunning to look at and exceptional stories that stay with the viewer. The problem is there isn’t much of an audience for his films. All three have disappointed at the box office, but places like HBO and AMC have proved perfect outlets for filmmakers looking to market their dark, complex themes. Television may be the perfect venue for Dominik, whose films are alternatively beautiful (The Assassination of Jesse James has some of the best cinematography of the last 20 years) and well developed. With people like Cary Fukunaga creating extraordinary television with True Detective, Dominik could create a show that suits his unique mix of grit and powerful characters. – Tressa Eckermann
Horror has had a massive resurgence on television of late. Between Hannibal, The Walking Dead, The Strain, Penny Dreadful, American Horror Story, Bates Motel, and more, why not bring in some of horror’s biggest names into the fold? The world is long overdue for David Cronenberg to return to the genre that we fell in love with him for: body horror. A Cronenberg body horror show would be unlike anything on television, and with all the horribly wonderful things Hannibal gets away with on just NBC, Cronenberg certainly wouldn’t need to hold anything back. Many of his classic films focus on the deterioration of both the human body and mind. The Fly perfectly sets up Jeff Goldblum’s lead character as a likable protagonist very quickly until by the end your heart is broken as he becomes this tragic, unrecognizable beast. Now what if someone were to transform in a terrible creature (either literally or metaphorically) from the beginning to the end of a multi-year show? How traumatic would that end up being for the viewers? With a knack for creating unforgettable images and even more unforgettable characters, Cronenberg on TV could end up being the next Twin Peaks. – Max Molinaro
The action genre and the superhero genre have both seen a rise in television over the past few years, whether it’s on shows such as Cinemax’s Banshee or The CW’s Arrow. One director who has shown herself adept at both genres is Lexi Alexander, especially with her 2008 feature Punisher: War Zone. With her last film coming in 2010, the time is ripe to give Alexander an opportunity to migrate to the small screen, and she would be a great fit for a female-led superhero series. In fact, Alexander’s knowledge of how to effectively conduct an action sequence, her keen understanding of how to translate printed source material to the screen, and her recent public push for gender equality in media would make her the perfect fit for a She-Hulk TV series. – Deepayan Sengupta
Many indie directors turn to TV because they can’t get the funding or the permission to tell the story they want in the Hollywood studio movie system (see: Soderbergh, Lena Dunham, Sean Durkin). Now, when you’re Richard Linklater and you’ve successfully made and distributed a movie over the course of 12 years, you can make just about any movie you want. At the same time, something like Boyhood, a movie you could figuratively live inside, would lend itself perfectly to an episodic format (even the aging part if the show lasted long enough) and allow us to explore limitless moments within these characters’ lives. Linklater’s talky style and simple cinematography could likewise be wonderfully transposed to TV, allowing Linklater’s writerly gifts to flourish. – Brian Welk
What could be more uncomfortable than sitting through the 90-120 minutes that it takes to get through a Todd Solondz movie? How about 60 minutes of a Todd Solondz television show every week? Solondz has been one of the most interesting and unique indie filmmakers since his 1995 feature debut Welcome to the Dollhouse. His films touch on themes like repressed American youth, the search for identity, the hidden terrors of suburbia such as pedophilia, rape, and much more. What is a better medium for the director to tackle some of these themes than modern TV? Solondz could create a sort of antithesis of Richard Linklater’s recent masterpiece, Boyhood, and tell a long form version of what it is like to grow up, but with the macabre Solondz spin. Picture someone like Dylan Baker’s Bill Maplewood character in Happiness and all those exceedingly uncomfortable and disgusting moments stretched out over several seasons and the toll it would take on everyone around him. The children growing up in Solondz’s twisted, but all too plausible world would make for a truly fascinating years-long arc. – Max Molinaro
In recent years, television has become more and more cinematic. Stories on the small screen tend to feature deeply-layered characters and impressive production values. That is why it is appropriate for big-name film directors to make the transition to TV. Renowned master of quirk Wes Anderson would be ideal for this transition since he possesses an artistic style and powerful sense of humor that would benefit any weekly series. His characters are often flawed but at the same time, full of unique qualities that make them fun to watch. His films are all contained within a world unlike any other, perpetually stuck in the 1970s in an almost alternate reality. TV would indeed be a welcome medium for this auteur to work his creative magic. – Randall Unger