‘The Waltons’: How Directors Were Often Decided During the Filming of the Series

by Keeli Parkey
(Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

In her latest installment of “Behind the Scenes of ‘The Waltons,’” actress Judy Norton answered questions fans submitted about the popular family drama. One of the questions involved how directors were selected during the filming of the series.

“I have been about how the writers and directors were determined for the series,” the Mary Ellen Walton actress explained during a video posted to her YouTube channel on June 7, 2021.

When the time came to film a new season of “The Waltons” the cast received information about the episodes. This information included some of the people they would be working with.

“At the beginning of each season we, the cast, would get a list for the entire season of the episodes, the writers, and directors,” she recalled. “Many of these at the time we got that list were TBD – to be determined.”

Typically, the directors included with that information were people the cast had previously worked with.

“Often the writers were listed, but not always the directors,” she said. “There might be a number of the directors listed. And some cases with directors that worked for us regularly, like Harry Harris who’ve you heard me talk about. He might be slotted into several episodes during the season. Then there might be a few other people that we had worked with. And some new names that we didn’t know. “

‘The Walton’s Actress Judy Norton Said Two Factors Played a Role When Directors Were Chosen for the Show

So, how did the powers that be behind “The Waltons” decide which directors should work on their show? According to Judy Norton, two very important factors came into play.

“I’ve asked around a bit, and my understanding of this is that they sometimes had a list of writers or directors that were recommended, that had track records,” Norton explained. “But, it also came into play in terms of the directors where budget was always an issue. So not only did they want the best directors they could get, but also directors that were able to work on a tight timeframe and economically. The two generally came hand in hand.”

Doing the job well – and staying in line with the show’s budget were priorities for directors.

“So, they needed directors that could bring the show in on schedule and on budget. So those became factors,” Norton said. “And I think some of the directors that were particularly good at that were probably some of the ones that worked with us regularly.”

You can watch Judy Norton talk about “The Waltons” below. Her comments about how directors were chosen during the filming of the series begin around the 3-minute mark of the video.