Last summer, Seattle filmmaker Lynn Shelton was tapped to direct an episode of Mad Men. (Typing "squee!!" here would be an understatement.) Acclaimed for writing and directing the small and lovely—not to mention award-winning—films We Go Way Back, My Effortless Brilliance and Humpday, Shelton is also known for her improvisational techniques. (Her scripts are usually fairly loose, so she can allow the actors to feel out scenes until they hit upon what works best.) I chatted with Lynn briefly via email just before her episode aired on September 26 (Season 4, Episode 10, called "Hands and Knees," written by Jonathan Abrahams and Matthew Weiner) about her behind-the-scenes experience in Tinseltown.
BD: How did you end up getting selected to direct the episode?
BD: Were you given a script in advance that you followed verbatim? Or were you able to use the improvisation techniques you've used with such success in your films?
BD: How did that feel, compared to improvisation?
BD: Were the actors on set familiar with your work? Or were they just told something along the lines of, "We're bringing in this very cool director from Seattle to handle this episode..."
BD: On the set, which actor seemed least like his or her character?
BD: Did the experience make you want to do more TV directing? Or did you learn you prefer filmmaking?
BD: Now that you're back in Seattle, what's next?
LS: I've got a few things cooking. $5 Cover Seattle, the web series I wrote and directed for MTV is finally launching later this fall, and I'm working on a feature project (Josh Ferris' Then We Came to the End), with Anne Carey and Ted Hope that Focus Features is set to produce.
BD: Did the Mad Men wardrobe people let you bring home any