When actor Kevin Bacon initially read the script for the Fox series, The Following, he asked if David Fincher could direct it. The lead star of Footloose was approached by the show’s easy going director and executive producer, Marcos Siega, explaining to Bacon that he and the actor would be working together.
Introducing himself to cast and crew is only one task that Siega has to do whenever he takes on projects. Siega had many conversations with Bacon about the show’s concept and direction. Before The Following, Bacon had never worked in television. Now heading into its third season, The Following has allowed both Siega and Bacon to build and enjoy a tremendous working relationship.
Considering himself the “humble boss on-set,” Siega credits The Following’s cast and crew for their hard work and input, calling the show “an incredibly collaborative process.”
“It’s about building trust,” says Siega prior to an advanced screening of The Following’s third season opener at SCAD Atlanta’s aTVfest. “If I need something from [Kevin], I just talk to him. There’s no secret to directing actors. It’s really just communicating and being really clear. It’s a partnership.”
Born and raised in Queens, NY, Siega never officially enrolled in film school but always knew he wanted to make feature films. The director of Franco-Brazilian origins convinced his musician peers to let him shoot their music videos. A musician in a punk band himself, Siega seized the opportunity to learn and hone his filmmaking ability.
Siega directed videos for artists like Everclear, Jurassic 5, Maroon 5, System of a Down, Weezer, Alien Ant Farm, Kelly Osborne, Sevendust, Anthrax, Blink-182, Collective Soul, Cypress Hill, Paramore and Papa Roach. He says working with those performers on-set helped to tighten up his social skills.
“The music videos were a tremendous learning experience,” says Siega. “I got to learn how to shoot, work the equipment, edit and talk to not necessarily actors but musicians. It’s the way that you talk to them to get them to do what you need them to do.”
Soon after, Siega’s talents evolved from music videos to film and television. The self-motivated and extremely passionate director’s promo work for the daytime talk show, Ellen, earned Emmys. One of his three feature films, Pretty Persuasion, received a Grand Jury Prize nomination at Sundance Film Festival in 2005.
Some of Siega’s other television credits include directing episodes of Dexter, True Blood, Cold Case, Veronica Mars and The Vampire Diaries. He says after he started watching HBO’s The Sopranos, he realized that television was at a turning point.
He names all of the emotional responses he experienced watching the hit series. “This was a movie, not a TV show,” he says. “It wasn’t something that was disposable after one episode. I was invested in who the characters were. That’s what you experience when you see a great film.”
Just before Siega boarded his flight to appear at aTVfest, he wrapped up shooting an episode of The Following around 3 a.m. He points out how Bacon’s cinematic presence gives The Following similar aesthetics as any major motion picture. Siega is very enthusiastic when he talks about creating television programs.
“It wasn’t always exactly what [Kevin] imagined,” says Siega, “but when he saw the end result, I think he was very pleased. I’m learning every time I shoot something no matter what it is. It’s not something I have to do. It’s something I love doing.”
Although he’s grateful for his accomplishments, Siega thinks it’s equally as important to address the struggles that come with pursuing careers in film and television. “For all of the success I’ve had and all of the learning I’m still doing, there were thousands times more when people said no,” says Siega.
“That stuff doesn’t go on Google or Wikipedia. Only what you accomplish goes on there.” Always one to offer a word of advice to students and aspiring filmmakers, Siega says he stays encouraged when he runs into novice talent with the same passion he has.
In return, Siega urges them to commit themselves to their dreams. “Never stop,” he says. “Don’t stop. If you believe in what you’re doing, just do it. Do it for the right reasons. I still look at doing television as a learning process for the thing I love most and that’s storytelling.”
The one-hour third season premiere of The Following airs Monday, March 2nd on Fox. Check local listings for times.
This post was created by Christopher A. Daniel, pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.