Director Larry Teng Shows Us How It’s Done

000271021One very popular, in-demand television director these days is Larry Teng.  I had another opportunity to chat with him recently and, not surprisingly, his cup is overflowing.

A Different Kind of Show

Teng was shooting Criminal Minds when we spoke.  Though he couldn’t really say much about the episode, he did reveal that “it’s a very dark premise.”

He went on to say, “The nice thing about working on this show is that it’s very much character driven, and there’s actually very little action in it, which is a good thing.  You get into the minds of the characters.”

So Many Projects, So Little Time

Teng let me in on some of the projects he has in the works.  “After we wrap, I’ll go to Hawaii (in January), then I go to New York for Blue Bloods, then Elementary, and then back to Hawaii.

“It’s a really good problem to have,” said Teng about his hectic schedule.  “Of course, if anything new comes up, there’s no way I’ll have a chance to do it.”

A Television Reunion

Following his directorial debut on Blue Bloods, Teng will be among friends when he directs the Elementary episode in March.  “It will be a small reunion of sorts,” he told me.  “I’m looking forward to that.”  (Teng worked on the Medium television series with Elementary creator Robert Doherty, head writer Craig Sweeney, and the Elementary editing crew).

Most Difficult Project to Date

When we spoke, he had just wrapped an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles.  He said, “It was an episode with very heavy action.  It was probably the hardest episode I’ve directed so far in my career.  It was basically very challenging, but also a very cool script.  I think this episode is a slight departure from what that show normally tends to be.  Still, there are great character scenes, and the cast is good to work with.  And I’m happy to be working in Los Angeles.”

This marked the only episode of NCIS: Los Angeles Teng will direct this season.

Back to Hawaii

However, in early January, he will return to Hawaii, where he has directed several episodes of Hawaii Five-0.  (At the time we spoke, he had not yet received the script).

I was anxious to ask him about some of the challenging scenes he had directed on Hawaii Five-0 since we last spoke.  “We had a bunch of scenes in “Ohuna” (The Secret).  We had the warehouse fight, jumping through windows, and the scene with the truck.  In that particular scene, all but three shots are all Alex (O’Loughlin).

“You don’t usually have that many actions depicted in one scene.  These particular shots had McGarrett sliding from under the truck, walking across the top of the truck, and taking out the driver.  We took a couple of takes that were very challenging.  We had to figure out a scenario we felt we could actually pull off, and we spent two full days shooting it.  In the teaser, we also had the abduction of the son.  So, we had a bunch in that episode that we had to incorporate into the schedule.  You learn very quickly where to take your time.”

As tough as it was, however, this wasn’t the toughest Teng’s directed for Hawaii Five-0.  In hindsight, he told me he thought the most difficult to date is “Ua Hopu” (Captured).  “That was more challenging, because we had the plane crash, and we had the jungle.  I think that was a tougher one to accomplish.  It took about three hours just to shoot the plane crash.”

The challenges are worth it, Larry.  Keep ‘em coming.

Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover. 

Article originally posted at Suite101.