TV director Susanna White has swapped corsets for camouflage to helm Wire creator David Simon's Iraq war drama. Next stop: Hollywood
In some respects, Susanna White's experience at the 2009 Emmy awards was very similar to that of every other nominee. There was the time spent on hair and makeup, the mile-long tailback of limousines approaching the Nokia Theatre in LA, and the pleasant evening mingling with celebrities. However, she was the only woman present to have her own military escort.
White was nominated in the outstanding directing for a miniseries category for the David Simon-scripted Iraq war drama Generation Kill. As it turned out she didn't win. But if she was sanguine about her defeat, the marines who had worked closely as advisers on the show, and who accompanied her to the ceremony, were a little more reluctant to lose out to a Dickens adaptation. "The marines offered to go and take out the cast of Little Dorrit. But we restrained them . . ."
Such a pledge of loyalty, even a lighthearted one, is testament to how far White won the trust and admiration of all the personnel – marines and actors alike – who worked on Generation Kill. Essentially the story of the month Rolling Stone reporter Evan Wright spent embedded with First Recon Marine at "the tip of the spear" of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it is densely populated with vivid characters and technical vocabulary, all spread across eight hours. White had done extended storytelling before, most notably on adaptations of Bleak House and Jane Eyre. More challenging was rigging and filming explosions, and directing a large male cast, all pumped up from a weeklong "boot camp" training session, for a shoot that would last eight months in Namibia, South Africa, and Mozambique.