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Director Larry Teng '99 Visits Park School Classes

Written by David Owens

Larry Teng '99 speaks with IC students in February. Photo by Jacob Biel 15

Watch a recent episode of Graceland or Hawaii Five-0, and you might notice Larry Teng’s name under the director credit. Teng ’99 worked his way up through a notoriously competitive industry to achieve his dream of becoming a television director. He was recently named one of Ithaca College’s “40 Alumni Who Shaped the Communications Industry,” and returned to IC in February to share his journey with students and give them advice on their own future careers.

After graduating from the Roy H. Park School of Communications with a degree in film and a minor in theater, Teng moved to New York City, where he worked in post-production on the shows Now and Again and Ed. By the time Ed went off the air in 2004, Teng had moved up to become a coordinating producer.

But Teng was still working toward his director aspirations. He moved to Los Angeles and dedicated himself to reaching his goal. His hard work paid off — since then, Teng has directed episodes of well-known shows like Medium and NCIS: Los Angeles.

Most recently, Teng has directed several episodes of USA Network’s Graceland. He’s also a writer for the show, which is a unique combination that allows him to add his creative mark both before and during production. When he visited IC, Teng brought along one of the latest scripts and walked students through his process, from script revisions to shooting. He explained that creative aspects such as visually interesting scenes and artsy camera angles have to be weighed against budgetary restrictions and the production schedule.  

While talking to students, Teng emphasized the necessity of being organized and prepared for anything. Before he gets on set, Teng said he makes a list of all the different camera shots he wants. But he has to be prepared for every possibility — it could start raining unexpectedly, or a car used in a chase scene could break down on set..

Teng prides himself on melding his personal style with each show’s unique treatment and vision, an approach that has attracted the attention of producers from a diverse range of shows such as Criminal Minds and Elementary.

Teng’s approach to his work is a sort of director’s wanderlust. He enjoys working on episodes of many different shows each year that shoot across the country, taking him from New York to Hawaii, and many places in between. Teng encouraged students to be open to where life takes them, just like he is: the next episode of his career could take him anywhere.



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