An Interview with Des Doyle, Director of “Showrunners” Documentary

Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show is set to be released on October 31 and I got to interview its director, Des Doyle, about his film. Showrunners is a feature-length documentary, exploring behind the scenes of TV shows and looking at what creative minds do to keep shows going. Doyle, a Dublin-based filmmaker, asked some influential showrunners about their craft.

When I started out making the film, I drew up a wish list of people that I would love to get to interview. They were Showrunners whose work I was a huge fan of myself and they were also people that I thought were extremely interesting, who had enjoyed very successful careers in the TV Industry, and who made shows that I found to be brilliantly written and produced. [We] managed to get 8 of the 10 people from that original list into the film and the book, which I still can’t believe we managed even today!

I think there has never been a greater level of interest in the people who create and write TV series than exists right now,” says Doyle. “This is partly as a result of social media where fans have direct access to the Showrunners themselves to ask questions about their favorite shows and partly because of huge online fan groups and forums where both the shows they love and the people who make them are discussed at length.

Fans have always been interested in the storytellers – because they are the only people who really have all the answers to the questions they’re asking, so I don’t think that’s anything new,” Doyle says, adding a bit of his memory from a conversation with Showrunner Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Outlander), “I remember Ron Moore talking to me about when he was a kid he was a huge fan of ‘Star Trek’ so he wrote letters into the show, but not to the actors. He was writing to Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the show, and Gene L. Coon who was a writer/producer of the show because he wanted to talk to them. Gene Roddenberry along with Rod Serling, who created ‘The Twilight Zone’, would have been perhaps the first two real Showrunners as we understand that to be today.

Getting this film and book released was unconventional. Some of the project was funded through Kickstarter. I asked Des Doyle if the Showrunners he wished to interview were receptive to the idea.

I’m a filmmaker from Dublin, Ireland so when I first arrived in L.A. no one really knew who I was. So in the beginning it took some time to convince people about what we were trying to do. When Damon Lindelof agreed to take part and let us interview him, that really opened doors for us and I think people took us, and the project, much more seriously from that point on.” With Doyle and his crew’s enthusiasm and genuine interest in the behind-the-scenes work of television, other Showrunners were soon on board with the idea. “By the time we were nearing the end of production we had people contacting us asking if they could take part which was hugely flattering!

“We’ve designed both the book and the film to be open and accessible to any level of a TV fan, but there is also more in there for any aspiring TV writers or potential Showrunners of the future, too,” says Doyle, “So whether you simply love watching great TV shows or someday aspire to write and create shows yourself I think the book and film offer both audiences a really interesting and enjoyable experience.

With the promise that “you will never watch TV the same again,” Doyle leaves us waiting for October to watch.

Amy Hogan

I was 9 years old when I discovered the magic that is “Harry Potter.” I am a proud Hufflepuff and exceedingly good at eating, reading, being sarcastic, and over-thinking small tasks. Since I spent too much time worrying about the correct way to write this bio, this is all I was able to come up with before the deadline.