When I was at McGill, I took a year-long theatre directing course — and it was a revolution for me. It was my first time actively shaping the audience experience, taking ‘vision’-type risks, guiding actors’ work, and embracing the blessings and curses of leadership. My final project was Fearful Symptoms: An Evening of Short Plays by Beckett. It was a modest thing, but to me it was a perfect microcosm of all my hopes. What I had visualized became real. The work the actors did blew me away, and I felt a very new kind of pride.
My first screen directing experience was shared with my brother Mark Morgenstern: this was our short, Curtains (also released in French as Rideau). We co-produced, co-directed and co-edited it, mobilizing crew and cast from among friends and financing it so that we could shoot immediately, without waiting for grants. I felt the same shock of pride when that shoot came to an end. We did it.
Remembrance was next, which I directed solo, and co-wrote and co-starred in with Mark Ellis. Cutting a trailer from the short, Mark and I used it to help win the Pitch This! Competition at TIFF. The cash prize allowed us to develop Remembrance into longer dramatic form... which later became X Company.
After I took a ten-year detour into full-time screenwriting and showrunning, my directing plans came full circle when I directed the two-hour series finale of X Company in Budapest. A two-hour story that unfolded within a single screen day, it felt like shooting a feature (only with less prep time). Surrounded by crew and cast I’d been working with for three years, I was overwhelmed by how much I’d had the good fortune to learn behind the scenes, with this show and Flashpoint. On location, in the writing room, in production meetings, in editing, 103 episodes of TV drama… All of that experience came into focus when it was my turn in the director’s chair. I loved every second of it.
This spring I had the serious pleasure of directing on the sci-fi comedy/adventure Killjoys (Syfy/Space) and this summer I'm off to Winnipeg to do a couple of episodes of the legal drama Burden of Truth (CBC). Once that's done I'm back by Mark's side as we develop our next show... which we're eager to talk about once it's official.
7 mins. Sizzle reel plus a selection of scenes from X Company, Fake Dates, and Remembrance.
Behind-the-scenes look at the making of the two-part series finale of X Company, featuring interviews with lead actors, as well as Morgenstern and Ellis.
Excerpt from a teaser for Fake Dates, a comedy created by Emily Hurson at the Canadian Film Centre with Kate Hewlett and David Reale. 2 min 31 sec.
scenes from x company
episode 310 - unlikely allies
In Berlin's Gestapo prison, Neil (Warren Brown) makes a desperate bargain for his life. 3 min 25 sec.
episode 310- best laid plans
At an exclusive Nazi ceremony, Aurora (Evelyne Brochu) creates a diversion so she can gain access to her target, Professor Voigt. 3 min 35 sec.
episode 309: marigold
Col. Sinclair (Hugh Dillon) and the X Company spies make plans for the assassination of a prominent Nazi scientist. 1 min 33 sec.
episode 309: inquisition
Faber (Torben Liebrecht) is interrogated by his superiors, who have grave doubts about his loyalty to the Reich. 1 min 47 sec.