The Next Generation‘s Jonathan Frakes spoke about why he wanted to be a director and how he went about becoming one.
Early on in The Next Generation, the actor realized that his thoughts were on the directing aspect of making a show. “I think it happened very early in the first season,” he said. “I had done a lot of guest spots, and I always was attracted to, admired, hung around, and watched, and I was curious about the directing position.”
Frakes began with watching the directors do their work when he was not being filmed at the moment. “So, if I was between scenes, not working, I would take my fricking spacesuit off, hang out and watch,” he said. “That was interesting to me. I’ve always been kind of a set brat. In the beginning of season two I voiced an interest to Rick (Berman) about directing, and I could feel his eyes roll.”
But Berman, who was also friends with Frakes, gave him a chance. “You’re gonna have to eventually train up,” he told the actor. “You don’t know anything about editing.”
“So, when I was at work,” said Frakes, “I stayed on the set and observed the directors. When I was not working, I’d come into Paramount and spend time in either the editing room, or pre-production, or, my favorite part, the scoring.”
Frake’s first episode was The Offspring. “I have been so lucky my whole life,” he said, “and blessed. On episodic television, you are at the whim of the episode. We did twenty-six a year. They’re not all going to be home runs. There are going to be some real stinkers. When I got The Offspring, it was a scheduling situation, because I was light in the episode before it, so that I had time to prep. I had finally; I think by virtue of persistence, broken Rick down…it was a Data episode. I’d say your batting average with Data episodes is as high as with any character.”
Frakes is grateful to Berman for giving him a chance. “Rick specifically changed my life by allowing me, and encouraging me, and supporting me as a director,” he said. “If it wasn’t for him, you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation.”