25: Denise Strong – Veteran Assistant Director, First A.D., Producer
Denise grew up in Texas and graduated from Texas State University with a bachelor in Fine Arts and Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Directing. After working her way up in the film industry as an intern, PA, location assistant, and second assistant director, she became a member of the Director's Guild of America in 1993 in the category of Assistant Director. Since then she's moved from Second Second AD to Key Second AD, and on to First AD where she currently works on commercials and feature films.
During her career, Denise has worked on known projects such as Dumb and Dumber, The Bucket List, Switchback, The Laramie Project, and Things to Do In Denver When You're Dead.
[1:39] Denise's Background
- Grew up in Bay City, Texas
- Went to school at Southwest Texas State (now Texas State University) in San Marcos
- Lived first in Houston, then moved to Denver in 1986
- Currently lives in Arvada, CO
[02:19] The roles and responsibilities of an Assistant Director
[04:08] Defining the layers of an AD
[06:51] Applying creative problem-solving to people/time management
[09:02] The myriad of ADs on larger sets and what they do
[11:12] Denise's career path
[15:01] How much time does it take to become a First Assistant Director?
[18:25] How to do the time to keep your rep as an AD
[20:14] Scouting for commercials versus 30+ day projects
[21:32] The ups and downs of being an AD
[23:36] The advantages of meticulous planning in advance for every project
[25:09] Why Denise chooses to live in Colorado
[26:55] Advice for people new to the industry
[28:29] The value in going where the work is
[31:38] Making a living in Colorado
[33:50] What all is involved is a typical microbudget project?
[36:36] Trying to find microbudget projects
[39:52] A history of self-promotion and how it works best today
[43:54] The universal truths of being nice, working hard, and being ambitious
[45:12] Dealing with slow times in the industry
[48:41] Denise's current projects
[49:52] Current trends in the industry in Colorado
[51:30] How does an Assist Director get hired, and who does it?
[55:46] Denise's mentors
[58:49] How to turn troubles on set into triumphs
[1:00:57] The feminine First AD experience
[1:06:29] Unsafe and safe sets; car jobs
[1:11:26] Working with David Sosna; Denise's book recommendation for ADs
[1:13:14] The best piece of advice Denise has ever received
[1:15:53] Advice for people looking to get into the business
[1:18:19] The biggest lesson over the past year
[1:22:29] Denise's great piece of wisdom
[1:24:28] The evolution of the industry in Colorado
[1:34:05] Speculation on incentives in Colorado versus other markets
Links and Resources
- View Denise's credits on IMDB
- Connect with Denise on Facebook
- Follow Denise on Instagram
- Send Denise an email
- Check out Denise's book recommendation, Working in Hollywood by Alexandra Brouwer (editing credits to David Sosna)
Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!