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.
So alongside the other TV-show-creating business, I’ve launched myself as a freelance episodic director. Earlier this year I had the serious pleasure of directing on the sci-fi comedy/adventure Killjoys (Syfy/Space), followed by a summer in Winnipeg shooting a couple of episodes of the legal drama Burden of Truth (CBC). Now I’m back by Mark's side as we develop our next show... which we're eager to talk about once it's official.
Director Demo (6 min 15 sec). Sizzle reel plus selected short scenes. For full-length scenes see additional Vimeo clips.
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.
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 309- SIncLair faces Oster
Duncan Sinclair (Hugh Dillon) confronts Oster (Pierre Kiwitt), exchanging his freedom for the safety of his son. 1 min 28 sec.
episode 309: art in dangerous times
SCENE: Krystina (Lara Jean Chorostecki) resorts to dark pressure tactics to ensure the cooperation of a reluctant German ally. 2 min 46 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.
Additional TV & Film Clips
Killjoys 408: I don’t want my friends to die
After Dutch survives a near-suicidal adventure, she and Zeph find themselves in a rare emotional heart-to-heart. 1 min 32 sec.
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.
REMEMBRANCE (Full short film)
WWII espionage drama. A fragile man with perfect memory is approached one night by a stranger with a life-changing offer. 19 min 45 sec.
Teaser for crime drama "Tetherwood," developed by Jordi Mand at the CFC. A high school guidance counsellor (Jane Spidell), fighting to stay strong after her husband's disappearance, learns a dark truth about the night he vanished. 4 mins.