Q&A – Jennifer Getzinger (Director of Episode 5)

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The script supervisor for Seasons 1 and 2, Jennifer Getzinger discusses sitting in the director’s chair for the first time with Episode 5, “The New Girl.”

Q: How did the opportunity to direct an episode come about?

A: I have been on the show since the pilot, and we had been talking about me directing an episode since the beginning. Matt [Weiner] had said, “Well, I can’t promise you anything, but we’ll see how it works out.” Matt is a man of his word and if he says that he believes in you, then he is going to try. He completely went to bat for me and told everybody that he thought I could do it.

Q: Did your previous duties give you a unique insight on directing?

A: Working as a script supervisor you get to sit by every director, every day of the show. So I recall every scene. I have gotten to see how every scene has gone camera-wise, how it has gone performance-wise. It’s really like I have been training on the show for a year, which is the greatest training you could have for your first directing job.

Q: This is yours and writer Robin Veith’s first episode, and it’s auspiciously titled “The New Girl”…

A: That is completely a coincidence. It is funny though, because we kept joking about it: “Well, who is the new girl? You?” I was actually originally scheduled to direct a different episode, and then because of scheduling changes, they moved me around and I was put on that one.

Q: This episode is the first time that we see what happened for Peggy in the hospital between the two seasons. How did you approach those scenes?

A: I love being able to go back. When we see Peggy at the office, we see she is covering up a lot of the pain and a lot of the struggle that she went through. It is nice to see her crack open a little bit and see what she really did go through and that it wasn’t just some mistake — it was really painful for her and she had to learn from what she went through and try to be strong from it.

Q: There’s that great moment too when she calls Don by his first name. How much weight did you want to give it?

A: I did see that as a big moment for her and I think that she came to it by remembering what Don did for her — how much he has helped her and supported her and been by her side — and I think that made her respect him, but it also put her in a somewhat inferior role. I think it is a big moment, but it is really just one step for her.

Q: You got to direct the biggest action scene so far this season: The car crash.

A: That was great! It wasn’t a big car crash, though it was a big car crash for Mad Men. It is certainly not a car crash like you would see nowadays. I wanted to show it the way a car crash would look like if you were driving by or if you were standing on the street. The way we do Mad Men oftentimes is from the perspective that you could be viewing it yourself. We storyboarded the whole thing ahead of time and we did practice runs with the stunt drivers. We were very prepared for it and when we went out and did it, everybody was really into it. We don’t normally do that kind of thing, and it does open up the show a little more. As much as we love the office and shooting things at Sterling Cooper, I think this season we have started to go outside of that a little more. The world feels like it has gotten a bit bigger.

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