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Gil Bettman: Author of First Time Director

  • Broadcast in Film
Radio Stranahan

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Gil Bettman got a BA from Harvard, an MFA from UCLA and broke in as director of hour-long episodic, action-oriented TV in the early 80s’. He directed multiple episodes of Knight Rider,The Fall Guy and BJ and the Bear, as well as a Twilight Zone and numerous second units. He then transitioned to rock videos and directed some of the most popular videos of the mid-80’s, among them, “I Can’t Drive 55” for Sammy Hagar and “Stay the Night” for Chicago. The success of his rock videos got him his first feature film directing assignment – Crystal Heart (1985) starring Lee Curreri and Tawny Kitaen. Crystal Heart was widely distributed and hugely successful in Spanish-speaking markets as Corazon de Cristal. This was promptly followed by a second feature assignment, Never Too Young to Die (1987), starring Gene Simmons, John Stamos and Vanity. NTYTD has since developed a sizable cult following, mostly on the strength of Simmon’s brilliantly wacky performance as the hermaphrodite villain, Velvet Von Ragnar. In 1997, Bettman directed Night Vision, a low budget action film for Fred “The Hammer” Williamson. Since then, he has directed two feature documentaries for Sammy Hagar, The Long Road to Cabo (2003) and Go There Once, Be There Twice (2010).


In 1995, Gil was hired by Dean Bob Bassett as a full time professor to teach directing and screenwriting in the film department at Chapman University. Since then, he has helped his visionary dean build the little-known film department into one the preeminent filmschools in the world – The Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.


In 2003, Gil wrote down all the hard-earned, invaluable lessons he learned breaking into the industry as a television, rock video, and feature film director, and published his first LA Times best-seller, First Time Director.