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Love Letters to 'Louie' - Steve Siddell

Photo courtesy of Steve Siddell

By: Keith Huang

Welcome back to "Love Letters to Louie," an unabashedly sycophantic meta-review of the television show "Louie" (Thursdays, 10:30PM on FX).

Today's semi-annual installment comes from Steve Siddell, a good friend of The Apiary, who worked as a gaffer on several episodes during the first season.

Steve is a member of the improv troupe Handsy, and can be seen fairly regularly on your TV box. He also recently starred in this excellent short video, "Conversations."

Steve writes:

"It can be frustrating to be an actor and performer whose day job is lighting for movies. Working as the gaffer on some of 'Louie' was the closest I came to breaking down and begging to be given a part. It was also one of the only things I've worked on as a technician where I would read the sides everyday (usually it's all garbage and I ignore them).

It was a pretty small crew and most people knew I did comedy stuff. I also had a few commercial spots running so I was secretly hoping that through some crazy star alignment Louie would hear about a show I was doing or see one of my spots and then cast me in some brilliantly deadpan role in an episode. That never happened, he just kindly called me a "fucker" when I tried to sneak a light on set that he didn't think was needed.

Photo: Eric Liebowitz/FX NetworksLouie definitely knew what he wanted and no one could possibly argue that the show isn't entirely his -- including the lighting. From a lighting perspective it could be difficult working for him because most scenes he just didn't want to light. We would move so fast that it seemed more like a student film than a TV show and he seemed to see the lighting guys as an annoyance rather than an asset.

However, it was fascinating for me, as a comedy person, to watch him work. Since it was his show from top to bottom and since he's a comedian, he placed the most value in maintaining a rhythm and moving quick enough that stuff stayed fresh and funny to him.

I also admired the way he would direct actors. He seemed to do a lot of takes but he directed very tightly and I'd hear him give really great notes. I think he is such a good storyteller that he just instinctively knows when a character needs to be more of a dick, or little more desperate, or whatever. I hear directors say such bullshit sometimes, especially in comedy. It's either totally pointless or just rewriting a line to make it funnier. Louie seemed to only give necessary direction.

Now, as for the way the show looks, I know a lot of people like the look, and yeah, it has a style. It's not really my style. To be honest I've still only seen a few episodes but I think even a little cinematic elegance can help tell any story, even one about a guy as inelegant as Louie.

I think the awkwardness of the technical direction gets in the way. Or maybe I'm just a frustrated, underutilized actor...wait, I mean technician."

^Steve hanging out with Davis Love III, captain of the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team.


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Reader Comments (1)

I can totally empathize. I work in TV production as well, and also try to do the comedy thing - it can be incredibly bittersweet to be that close to the action but not to be able to play.

July 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterManoli

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