Andrew Fried- Director: Chef’s Table and Invent Off
When did you realize you wanted to work in television?
I have always wanted to be a storyteller. It took me a bit longer to zero in on unscripted television as my medium of choice. I think at some point during college I came to really appreciate the unique relationship that people have with television. We watch in the comfort of our homes. We watch during the private moments in our lives. That one on one connection with the viewer is something that really excites me creatively.
What advice do you have for college students who are looking to pursue the television industry?
Make something. Tell a story. There is no barrier to entry now to work in the entertainment industry. If you have a story to tell, you should put pen to paper and tell it Then pick up a camera and shoot it. Make it simple. Make it short. You don’t need movie stars and fancy cameras to tell a story. And it doesn’t need to be a 2-hour feature for an audience to connect to something.
What was your first job in the industry? What did you learn from it?
My first job in the industry was as an intern at Tribeca Productions in New York. I learned pretty quickly the pace at which the entertainment industry moves. Even then – before the explosion of the internet and social media – the speed at which communication occurred was mind boggling to me. It took me many more years to realize how long it actually takes to get anything done.
What is something you wish someone had told you about the industry?
How entrepreneurial you need to be to succeed. It’s not like so many other industries where there is a prescribed tract for promotion and success in a field. You need to find unique opportunities and create value for yourself. Someone once told me that my job as a junior production person was to just do things that cross things off your boss’ “to do” list. That advice can be expanded even further. In any job, identify what needs to be done to help the people around you and do it. Don’t be afraid if you do it wrong or not – that will come later.
As a director how to you prepare before you start working on a new show?
The thing that helps me the best is to talk about the project with the people around me and really start to develop a language for how people relate to a given topic or character. I want to immerse myself in the world of the characters for sure, but I also want to start talking about them and telling their stories. That way I start to discover what is most interesting to me about them just by how I talk about them. Visually, I watch as many reference pieces as possible. I love telling a DP or a production designer that something reminds me of a specific scene in a specific movie or TV show. Then we know we are all talking about the same vibe or feeling for a piece.
What is something you took away from your time working on Chef’s Table?
Something I learned on Chef’s Table in particular is that people of a certain stature have an understanding of what their own story is – the high points and low points – and what they perceive is interesting about them. My job is to tell the story they want to share about themselves, but perhaps more importantly, to tell the story they don’t realize they’re telling.
What can you tell us about your new show Invent Off?
The purpose of Invent Off was for us to create a space for our subjects to discover, explore, ideate and create. It was inspiring for us to observe their hard work while capturing their stories. Qualcomm is very much the reason why everyone was there – this can’t really be overstated. We were working with their technology, all of the resources they had provided, and the very structure of the event itself. As far as I’m concerned, this event would have been happening whether we were capturing it with our cameras or not. We just happened to be there to cover it. Their idea to use the internet of things to save a life using the technology that they have created, was at the core of every aspect of the show.
What shows made you fall in love with television? What shows are you currently loving?
I fell in love with television through the shows of my youth – Family Ties is one that comes to mind. It was funny and yet it made me cry at times, and I knew those characters so well. I never realized the connection you could have with fictional characters until that show. I am really loving “The Night Of” on HBO and “Catastrophe” on Amazon right now.