Jason Winer: ‘Family’ man rebrands himself

10 Directors to Watch

I’ve got certain superpowers on the set that I don’t have in the rest of my life. The ability to multitask gets suddenly amplified when I’m directing,” jests Jason Winer, who is moving from “Modern Family” house director to the bigscreen with WB’s upcoming “Arthur” remake.

A theater geek since childhood, the Baltimore native crafted said powers as a wide-eyed undergrad at Northwestern U., majoring in Performing Arts and honing his theatrical skills with the Meow Show, a comedy improv troupe.

After graduation, Winer moved to Los Angeles, where he sold a series to MTV called “The Blame Game.” His big break came in 2005, when he landed a TV development deal at Fox that led to “Modern Family,” for which Winer snagged a DGA award and a 2010 Emmy nom.

“Today’s comedy audience is savvy,” observes Winer, whose deft use of camera angles and POV shots on “Modern Family” has signaled a return to cinematic style on TV. “I love shooting in the documentary style because it provides energy, punctuates jokes and allows the audience to feel that they are peering in on the action.”

To get the effect he wanted, Winer gave the cast freedom to explore unscripted creative impulses. “In comedy, the best performances emerge from an atmosphere of fun, but creating that environment requires hard work,” he explains. “For comedy to flourish, you need to know what you want to do and then be open to deviating from that.”

His career in full bloom, Winer recently wrapped “Arthur,” which puts Russell Brand in the role of a bumbling high-society drunk. “Jason is a visionary stylistically, but he’s flexible enough to accommodate his actors’ suggestions,” Brand praises. “He is enthusiastic and authoritative in exactly the right proportions.”

Per Winer, what auds want from comedy is to feel like they’re the first ones in on the joke.

“You have a whole generation of people that like the feeling of discovering what’s funny instead of being told,” he says. “I like human-observed comedy. Some of the best moments in ‘Arthur’ are parts where the audience thinks they’re the only one discovering the thing that’s funny.”

Age: 38
Homebase: Los Angeles
Inspired by: “Sydney Pollack is a hero of mine. He made one of my favorite movies, ‘Tootsie,’ which combined visual style with excessive emotion, and he was also an actor that became a director.”
Reps: Agents: Nicole Clemens, Kevin Crotty, Emile Gladstone, ICM; Managers: Michael Lasker, Christie Smith, Mosaic; Attorney: Todd Rubenstein, Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein & Kohner

10 Directors to Watch
Looking for the next big thing
Richard Ayoade | Daniel Espinosa | Ed Gass-Donnelly | Elgin James | Patrick Lussier | Baran Bo Odar | Andre Ovredal | Denis Villeneuve | Juanita Wilson | Jason Winer

More Film

  • Jennifer Lopez Owen Wilson

    Jennifer Lopez-Owen Wilson Film 'Marry Me' Moves Back to Universal From STX

    The Jennifer Lopez-Owen Wilson romantic comedy “Marry Me” has moved from STX back to its original home, Universal Pictures. STX previously took over the project in April. Kat Coiro is directing from a script written by John Rogers and Tami Sagher, with a rewrite by Harper Dill. Colombian singer/rapper Maluma has joined the cast and [...]

  • Austin Butler to Star as Elvis

    Austin Butler to Star as Elvis in Baz Luhrmann's Biopic

    Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic has found its king of rock ‘n’ roll. After numerous screen tests, Austin Butler has been tapped to play Elvis Presley in Luhrmann’s next feature film for Warner Bros. The studio tested with a handful of actors in full hair and make-up at the end of June to see who [...]

  • 'The King's Man' Trailer Debuts With

    'The King's Man' Trailer Showcases Secret Service's Origins

    Disney is promising plenty of sword-fighting, gunplay and devastation in its first teaser trailer for the Fox spy comedy prequel “The King’s Man.” The studio unveiled a first look Monday that sets the stage for an origin story of the private British  intelligence service, portrayed in the two previous films in the franchise: 2014’s “Kingsman: The [...]

  • Emma Stone Damien Chazelle Babylon

    Emma Stone Eyes Damien Chazelle's Next Film 'Babylon'

    “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle is heading back to Hollywood for his next feature film “Babylon,” and Emma Stone is in early talks to star. Sources say Chazelle has met with a handful of suitors over the past couple weeks, and Paramount and Lionsgate are both vying to land the project. While Chazelle previously [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez

    2019 Imagen Awards Nominations: Jennifer Lopez, Antonio Banderas and More

    Jennifer Lopez and Antonion Banderas are among this year’s Imagen Awards nominees, which span a range of categories including informational programming, on-air advertising, outstanding individual performances and prime time programming in film and television. The Imagen awards were first established in 1985 upon recommendation from TV veteran Normal Lear in an effort to recognize more [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content