Roger Nygard: How to Work Both Scripted and Unscripted


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We travelled the streets of Los Angeles for the 109th episode of Producing Unscripted. Well, we went a couple of exits down the 101, where we met with this week’s guest, the multitalented Roger Nygard. Roger has edited on many highly acclaimed television series, including Grey’s Anatomy, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Veep (for which he’s earned an Emmy nomination). He’s also a successful documentarian, with box office hits like Trekkies. Plus, his upcoming doc, The Truth About Marriage premieres soon. He took time to discuss all of this and more when we stopped by his office at the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood. Today, the excellent Roger Nygard shares priceless tips and advice to help you in your career…whatever path it takes..

Roger Nygard with Joke and Biagio - Scripted and Unscripted

Roger Nygard: Living the Dream in Both Scripted and Unscripted

Roger is living the life many people in the industry strive for their whole career.

He’s successfully working in both scripted and unscripted. Most of the time, he’s editing scripted television, crafting some of today’s most popular TV shows. On the flip side, whenever he’s not up to his ears in footage, he’s travelling around the world, directing, producing, and editing feature-length documentaries.

Roger Nygard takes a minute with Joke and Biagio on the Paramount lot. He's currently editing the final season of VEEP.

Roger Nygard takes a minute with Joke and Biagio on the Paramount lot. He’s currently editing the final season of VEEP.

Climbing The Ladder: How Roger Helped Us

Roger provided incredible advice that helped shape our careers. When we finished our 2011 documentary, Dying to Do Letterman (which you can watch right now on Amazon), Roger agreed to have dinner with us.

He shared his film festival knowledge over the meal. He also encouraged us to submit our doc to Cinequest, a film festival in San Jose. We hadn’t heard of it, but Roger thought it would be a great fit, and said it was an amazing fest.

He was right.

Our film screened at and won the festival, both the Grand Jury and Audience Award. That led to more festivals, more awards, a theatrical release, distribution, and ultimately, the success of the documentary.

Clearly, Roger knows what he’s talking about, and he’s not afraid to support those new to the industry. In fact, in this episode, you’ll hear him talk about the importance of helping people climb the ladder in our industry. Like he did for us. (And we hope to do for you one day.)

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The Truth About Marriage

Roger tackles huge concepts in his films. What better way to follow up his last documentary, The Nature of Existence, than to investigate the deepest secrets of marriage?

Today, Roger shares the inside scoop behind his process. How did he deal with a huge topic like marriage? Plus, some of the amazing things he learned along the way.

Check out The Truth About Marriage trailer from Roger’s Vimeo Channel below:

"The Truth About Marriage" – TRAILER from Roger Nygard on Vimeo.

Tons of Great Advice from Roger Nygard

Just some of what we discuss today:

  • How Roger started making movies
  • Why Roger passed on film school
  • Saying “yes” to opportunity
  • How Roger learned to make documentaries
  • Crossing over from Scripted and Unscripted and back again
  • How Trekkies sold for 1.25 million dollars
  • How to keep viewers engaged
  • Concept documentaries versus character based docs
  • The Documentarian’s question
  • How to approach a huge topic like marriage
  • New avenues for docs
  • The politics of film festivals
  • Your chances of getting into big film festivals
  • And…last but not least…why Biagio’s taking a much closer look at his calendar!

You’ll find out about that and more in this month’s episode of Producing Unscripted.

Click that giant “Play” button at the top of the page to listen now.

Helpful and Related Links

Want to know more about Roger Nygard and his newest film? Check out The Truth About Marriage for updates on his film and the trailer, or go to Roger’s website and Twitter for more on the man, the myth, the legend himself. (And while you’re there follow us on Twitter, too.)

We discuss a lot of books on today’s episode. We thought you may want to check some of them out. (BTW, these are NOT affiliate links.)

Maybe Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes by John Pierson?

Or Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez?

Want to learn more about how to tell a great story? Then check out The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler.

Another great one is Story by Robert McKee.

Others include Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger, and The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell.

Finally, if you’d like to team up with us, here’s what you need to know:

The post Roger Nygard: How to Work Both Scripted and Unscripted appeared first on Producing Unscripted.

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