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Ken Kwapis Poster

Biography

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Overview (1)

Date of Birth 17 August 1957Belleville, Illinois, USA

Mini Bio (1)

Ken Kwapis is an award-winning director who has moved easily between the worlds of feature filmmaking and television directing. He most recently directed the Warner Bros. comedy "License to Wed" starring Robin Williams, Mandy Moore and John Krasinski. He previously directed "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," a film adaptation of Ann Brashares' best-selling novel, starring Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively and Alexis Bledel. Kwapis is in pre-production to direct the film adaptation of Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo's non-fiction bestseller, "He's Just Not That Into You," for New Line Cinema.

For television, Kwapis helped launch some of the most innovative comedies of the past decade. He directed the pilot of NBC's Emmy Award-winning series "The Office," starring Steve Carell, John Krasinski and Rainn Wilson. He received a 2007 Emmy nomination for directing the episode "Gay Witch Hunt." Kwapis also earned an Emmy nomination for his work as a producer-director of FOX's "Malcolm In The Middle." He directed the pilots for the groundbreaking HBO series "The Larry Sanders Show," and the Emmy Award-winning "The Bernie Mac Show." He also directed episodes of such critically acclaimed comedies as "Freaks and Geeks" and "Bakersfield, P.D."

Kwapis' feature films include the romantic comedies "The Beautician and the Beast" starring Fran Drescher, and "He Said, She Said," starring Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth Perkins. "He Said, She Said" was conceived and co-directed with Kwapis' wife Marisa Silver. His other films include "Dunston Checks In," starring Jason Alexander and Faye Dunaway; "Vibes," starring Jeff Goldblum and Cyndi Lauper; and "Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird," starring Jim Henson's Muppets.

Kwapis' feature "Sexual Life" marked his first effort as a writer-director. Adapted from Arthur Schnitzler's play "La Ronde," "Sexual Life" premiered to rave reviews at the Los Angeles Film Festival and aired on Showtime in 2005. The ensemble cast includes Anne Heche, Elizabeth Banks, and Kerry Washington.

Kwapis studied filmmaking at Northwestern University and The University of Southern California. He won the Student Academy Award in Dramatic Achievement for his USC thesis film "For Heaven's Sake," an adaptation of Mozart's one-act comic opera Der Schauspieldirektor ("The Impresario").

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ken Kwapis

Spouse (1)

Marisa Silver (? - present) (2 children)

Trivia (1)

He is of Polish descent.

Personal Quotes (7)

Since Pants [The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)] was released, I can't tell you how many conversations I've had about public displays of emotion in general, and crying at the movies in particular. I've received messages from male friends berating me for creating something that brought them to tears. I've received emails from girls who claim they'd never cried at the movies before Pants. And there are many rave reviews that are quite apologetic in tone. Many journalists have a hard time distinguishing between honest emotion and sentiment. I feel certain the audience knows the difference.
I'm surprised how many directors sit on their asses in the video village rather than watching the action beside the camera, particularly if the scene is an intimate one for the actors. The video village has really created a climate in which films and television shows are directed by consensus. It's nauseating.
Many people assume that the great benefit of television directing is learning to work at an accelerated pace, to think on your feet. While that's hard to deny, what's been crucial for me is working on shows with unique tones.
Once upon a time I heard a producer complain about a director by saying, "He doesn't know how to move the camera." As far as I'm concerned, camera movement is the cheapest currency available to a director. The real measure of good directing is knowing when not to move the camera, when not to intrude. The test is being able to create an evocative image that doesn't advertise your skill or your film literacy.
[re directing pilot episode of The Office (2005)] Jenna Fischer asked casting director Allison Jones for advice about how to win the role of Pam. Allison replied, 'Just go in there...and bore them.' Perfect.
Our casting choices for The Office (2005) were not standard-issue. We wanted to populate Dunder Mifflin with unknowns; moreover, we wanted people who didn't look like they belonged on prime-time television at all. The audition process itself was unorthodox. Rather than parade our actors in front of a roomful of stone-faced executives, we shot days of improvisation, mixing and matching different candidates. Greg [showrunner Greg Daniels] felt certain the show's uncomfortable, cringe-inducing humor would never play well in front of the suits. He was right. I've been to plenty of network auditions and watched even the most understated performers turn into vaudevillians, desperate to sell jokes to executives who are doing everything in their power not to reach for their handheld devices. 'The Office' demanded a completely different approach-it required a kind of anti-performance
The Office (2005) finale turned out to be one of the toughest episodic jobs I've ever done [as a director]. Forget the task of juggling story lines for nearly eighteen characters. Forget the challenge of telling a sprawling tale that takes place one year after the previous episode. The real job was keeping the cast from crying all the time. It was hard, especially on that final day. As exhausted as the ensemble was, no one wanted it to end. Greg (Daniels) wrote a beautiful speech for Andy (Ed Helms): "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them." It seemed the entire group realized what they were about to leave behind, and no one wanted to let go. When we did Jenna's final talking head, Greg kept asking for more takes. If we stayed there long enough, he told me, we might discover a whole new direction. The final shot was quite simple: an insert of Pam's watercolor painting of the Dunder Mifflin building. The employees troop past-they are really blurs in the foreground. After three takes, I turned to Greg and gave him a sad little nod. 'What am I supposed to do now?' he asked. For my last act as director of the show, I needed to give the showrunner some direction. I said, 'Call everyone in. Tell them we're finished'.

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