Glen Winter is a prolific director in the Berlanti-verse, most known for his work on the TV series Smallville and Arrow. He seems to have become the go-to guy when super-producer Greg Berlanti decides to start a new show. So it’s no surprise he was chosen to direct the pre-pilot presentation for newest superhero offering Black Lightning, which premiered this week. Most recently he has been directing on season 3 of Supergirl. We met him there and asked him a little about life behind the camera.
Glen started on Smallville then came to work on Arrow from the pilot, so has been around to witness the evolution of the Arrowverse.
“Berlanti and those guys are really smart. They took Arrow and ran with it. When Arrow started none of this was planned – it all just kind of snowballed. At one point I was talking to them about a pilot for Hawkman called ‘Hawk’ before Legends of Tomorrow came along, and so they were going to spin that off Arrow, but I think that turned into Legends eventually.”
Glen has directed many of the pivotal episodes in the Arrowverse including finales and the first Flarrow crossover, but he says it’s not usually intentional.
“Unless it’s a season opener or closer they don’t know who’s directing. When you get your slots in April they just give you say episode 12, but they don’t know what that is yet. Though in Arrow season 1 when they found out I’d be directing ‘The Promise’ they wrote that towards me. It’s where they storm the Amazo and it’s one of my favourite episodes ever. The first Flash/Arrow crossover I think they wrote towards me. That was a good episode – really well written and the banter was funny, and all the Felicity stuff was really good.”
Glen says the Black Lightning pre-pilot had been a fairly well kept secret. “It’s like a 10 minute presentation, similar to the Legends trailer they put out, but with scenes and more stuff.” From then Glen was confident it would be picked up by the CW network. “The cast is really good, it’s very urban very gritty, it’s about a black family living in a rough neighbourhood. He’s a principal in a school and he’s a reluctant hero. He was Black Lightning then he put the suit away when he had his daughters, and him and his wife are separated. Then through certain circumstances he decided to put the suit back on. It’s really good. The guy who wrote it Salim Akil has never done a superhero show before but he’s a black guy and a lot of it’s based on his experiences – like being pulled over by cops all the time because he drives a Porsche. He’s harassed and that scene is in the show so it’s very different to the other superhero shows”. It seems the Berlanti-verse writers will continue to explore real world problems within the shows. “There’s a lot of Trump-bashing” Glen recognises.
Glen directed an episode of Berlanti’s NBC drama Blindspot last year and is keen to continue working outside of the Arrowverse. ” I want to do another episode of Blindspot. There’s also a new Berlanti show called Deception that I’d like to do. It’s in New York and David Nutter has done the pilot. I spent Thanksgiving there after Blindspot and it was amazing so I want the Thanksgiving slot again!”
One of Glen’s key tips for directing is to be enthusiastic. “Enthusiasm is infectious. Even if people think you’re crazy, they want to be inspired. Greg Beeman was the producer/director on Smallville and he really inspired me. I channel him when I need inspiration.”
Black Lightning, Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow currently air on the CW network in the U.S. and Sky One in the U.K.
Blindspot airs on NBC in the U.S. and Sky One in the U.K.
Deception is scheduled to premiere on ABC on March 11th 2018.