"Hope Springs" Director David Frankel on his Latest Film, Movies vs. Television, and What Makes Things Funny

By Amanda Botfeld on September 13, 2012

David Frankel works as a director for both film and television.  His previous works include The Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me, and the Sex & the City T.V. series. Here he takes the time to discuss his career and the release of his newest film, Hope Springs.

Meryl Streep in Frankel’s latest movie, Hope Springs

How did you get your start?

Feels like eons ago. I had a start in show business when someone gave me an internship for a television syndication company in the early ‘80s. I worked a lot in the business of television and the sales side of things. I was there for about twenty years and writing nights and weekends the whole time I was there until I eventually sold a screenplay to Warner Brothers. I was also interested in directing and I wrote a TV series that would give me the opportunity to do so. I spent almost ten years working [as a director] almost exclusively for HBO. Then I directed the pilot for Entourage which brought me to the attention of the producer Wendy Finerman — who was currently in the process of putting together the movie version of the Devil Wears Prada. So that’s how I got my start — where you’re thinking your start ends and the rest of your career begins.

How is working in movies different than television?

With movies you’re doing one thing at a time. You’re generally working slower. You’re telling one story that has a beginning, middle and end. Movies are harder to get off the ground but you have the opportunity to tell one story with a little more time and a little more detail. Television you’re lucky if you’re doing 24-26 episodes a year. It’s just an incredible volume of comedy or drama or whatever it is that you’re doing. Television is also sort of monogamous in that you never stop telling your story.

Anne Hathaway in Frankel’s previous film, The Devil Wears Prada

What makes something funny?

Work with funny people. Great comedians can perform real moments — even dramatic moments — and still make you laugh. But of course you’ve got to have a script that captures the details of real life — all the little failures we experience trying to get through a day — to start with. So you’ve got to work with funny writers, too. And then trust yourself. Hope that if you laugh so will other people.

What makes you unique as a director?

Well I think what makes every director unique is the experience that they bring. It’s a combination of experience and passion. When you first start out, you have almost no experience. You’re writing all on passion and instinct and drive. I like to think of myself as a member of the audience. Am I entertained? Do I understand the story? And if I like the characters, then I have faith that the audience will too.

And finally, why should people go and see ‘Hope Springs’?

Because it’s a beautifully crafted screenplay on a subtly daring topic that’s performed brilliantly by three of the greatest movie stars of our time; that’s not even hyperbole, that’s just the facts.  And you know what? It’ll make your eyes water and your chest swell with emotion.

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