CHOICES Series Screens Thurs 3/8/12 at MNN TV Studios

Manhattan Neighborhood NetworkCHOICES Web Series will screen on Thursday, March 8, 2012 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) television studios, in the Open Studio. MNN is located at 537 West 59th Street New York,  between 10th and 11th Avenues, near Columbus Circle in Manhattan.

This exciting  screening of entire CHOICES dramatic series is free and open to the MNN community and the public but please RSVP at It will be followed by a Q & A.


17 characters. 8 dramas. 7 webisodes. CHOICES. Sometimes life will make you do things you never thought you would do. CHOICES.

CHOICES is a series of soap-style flash dramas with intertwined story lines. The series highlights top notch acting with writing and direction by filmmaker Olu Gittens. CHOICES shows characters from all walks of life who are somehow connected to each other…as we all are. CHOICES is about the options life puts before us and the decisions we make along the way. Life is a series of CHOICES.


Mark Ellmore as Gov. Gary Mitchell
Ellen Haynes as Margaret Mitchell
Tiffani Coleman as Carmen
Gabe Vargas as James
Adam Shuty as Paul
Debra Jans as Mary
Graham Powell as Peter
Ivy Livingston as Olivia
Elizabeth Powers as Jane
Erik McKay as Mike
Alexander Mulzac as Keith
Kristen Hung as Cathy
Danyel Fulton as Shanelle
Kianne Muschett as Shervonne
Elisa Pupko as Regan
Scott T. Miller as Chapman
Joshua Feinberg as Motulsky
Produced at the television studios of Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN), New York City.

Adventures in Multicamera Directing Part V: Calvin Cody West Johnson and Band

As a multicamera director, doing musical performances is fun. I get to enjoy some amazing music, while employing my creative and tech skills to bring in as good a show as possible. This time out, we used blue, purple and red light gels, starlight filters and 3 cameras. I employed straight cuts as well as dissolves, varying the pace by song, and conveying the musical harmony and the harmony between performers.

 Calvin Cody West Johnson appeared on Different Voices TV Show on Friday, April 22nd with Ceasar Johson (bass, vocals) and Larry Presston (drums). They performed songs from their new CD 

 Executive Producer: Poet Minor. Director: Olu Gittens. MNN New York.Video clip: 28 min. program preceded by ad.


Adventures in Multi-Camera Televsion Part III: The Musician’s Mistress

For this piece, I worked with multiple actors in a multi-camera scene.  Adam Shuty and Ivy Livingston are very professional, very talented actors I had the pleasure of working with in Directors and Actors (DnA) workshops.  This was their first time performing together, and their first time doing multi-camera.

We rehearsed for about an hour a few days before the shoot, then did a tech rehearsal just before shooting.  I had a top-notch crew of public access producers who are committed to independent media and supporting each other’s work.

The tone of the scene is one of dark comedy.  The biggest challenge in directing it was in pulling out the tragic aspects of the story (after all, comedy is tragedy happening to someone else, as they say).  Other challenges included separating Olu The Writer from Olu The Director, and together with the actors, stepping away from our preconceived notions of what the scene was about.

Pictured, left to right: Technical Director Poet Minor, Actress Ivy Livingston, Actor Adam Shuty, Director/Producer Olu Gittens

My style of directing this scene can be described as theatrical meets daytime drama.  The shots were framed more intimately as the scene went on, reflecting the characters’ becoming closer to each other emotionally over the course of the scene.  I utilized dissolves at the end, a stylistic element you might find in band shoots but that worked nicely in this scene.

I added music in post production, one piano piece and two jazz pieces that showcased the type of double bass musicianship that inspired me to write the scene in the first place.

The intimacy between a musician and his/her instrument has often reminded me of two lovers.  What if that idea became real for someone? This scene is an attempt to answer that very question, and I think we did a very good job of it.



See the photos @ FLICKR

The Musician’s Mistress @ VIMEO

The Musician’s Mistress @ YOUTUBE

Introducing Adventures in Multi-Camera Directing

With the new year, it’s time to embark on new adventures. In this TELEVISION section of the blog, I’ll be covering my experiences directing multi-camera TV.

Filmmaker Olu Gittens, center, directing an episode of Different Voices (Executive Producer: Poet Minor) at Manhattan Neighborhood Network. Left, Drew Taylor. Right, Chance Anderson. Photo courtesy of Poet Minor.

As a film director working single-camera, I prefer to be near my actors while the camera is rolling – rather than perched at a monitor – watching for the performance, the connection, the eyes. In multi-camera directing, the director sits in the control room, a sound-proof space adjacent to the studio, watching 3 or more screens that simultaneously show the action taking place. Working in coordination with the TD, or technical director, the multi-camera director controls the rhythm and pacing of the scene, anticipate shots, highlight performances. I won’t be physically with my actors during the shoot! The intimacy between director and the performance must come from a strong vision for the scenes, effective rehearsals, hawk’s eye survey of all shots at once, and a good rapport with the actors and the control room team.

Filmmaker Olu Gittens, left, directing an episode of Different Voices (Executive Producer: Poet Minor) at Manhattan Neighborhood Network. Left, Drew Taylor. Right, Chance Anderson. Photo courtesy of Poet Minor.

Multi-camera directing is known for being less “creative” than single-camera filmmaking because of the limitations of camera placement, generalized lighting to accommodate several shots at once, and because we tend to see it only in news, sports, talk shows and soap operas. But don’t sleep on it! The process is its own roller coaster ride of anticipating shots, editing on-the-fly, teamwork and timing.

So, here’s to multi-camera directing, one of the many facets of my work as a filmmaker. Let the journey begin!

TV Directing, Museum of Broadcast Communications