Kate Dennis is such a hot commodity as a director these days that she needs an administrative assistant to schedule time for her to breathe.
Yet the Australian-born Dennis’ respect for the Idyllwild Arts Academy Film and Digital Media Department will bring her up to inhale the fresh air of the mountains on a Saturday in February. That afternoon, a screening of her Emmy-nominated episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale” in William M. Lowman Concert Hall will be followed by a Q&A.
More nominations and awards seem inevitable for this remarkable directing talent. But if there’s a Work Ethic award, it’s hard to imagine anyone else getting the nod: In just the last five years, Dennis has directed for, among other shows, “Secrets and Lies,” “CSI: Cyber,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” “TURN,” “Suits,” “The Mindy Project,” “I’m Dying Up Here,” “GLOW,” “New Amsterdam” and “Heathers.”
“What sets Kate Dennis apart and makes her especially valuable in the industry,” suggests Academy Film and Digital Media Chair Annette Haywood-Carter, “is the generosity she brings to the job and all her relationships. Simply put, everyone wants to work with Kate!”
Bringing Dennis to Idyllwild represents a coup for Haywood-Carter. Her entire faculty consists of film-industry veterans who understand the importance to a young artist’s career, not only of skills, but of connections that permit observation of what industry success looks like close up. Dennis’ Idyllwild Arts appearance shows how Haywood-Carter’s leveraging of Idyllwild’s proximity to the film capital of the world — and of her personal contacts in Hollywood — can supplement the intense, hands-on instruction enjoyed by academy film majors.
Of course, it’s also hard to overlook how the astonishing success of a woman director runs against the grain of filmmaking history. But with Kate Dennis popping up to direct for practically every TV show you can think of, and with Annette Haywood-Carter modeling consummate professionalism every day for Idyllwild Arts Academy’s talented and ambitious film students, the grain is likely to start growing in another direction.
The event is from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, in Lowman Concert Hall on campus, and is free and open to the public. Space is limited.