Christopher Goutman’s Journey from Child Actor to Director to Producer

Susan Dansby:  The question that I am starting out with everybody is: How did you get that job? But you’ve had so many. So, where did the interest in theatre start? And what was the first form it took?

Christopher Goutman:  Well, my mother was also a Carnegie Mellon graduate.  She was an actress, and she taught for 42 years in a private school, and did community theatre during my entire childhood.  So that was my first start in the theatre, I did community theatre plays with her. The Rosemont Rolics. And my dad was a painter, so I come from a pretty artsy-fartsy family.  So that was my exposure to theatre, and I resisted it for as long as I could until it completely overtook me after I went to college – I have an undergraduate degree in literature. 

After that liberal arts education, I wrote ads for a year in Philadelphia, and then applied for MFA program in directing at Carnegie and was accepted, and actually studied under – for me – one of the most influential people in my life, Larry Carra who co-wrote the book, Fundamentals of Directing, which to me is the bible of directing. And he was my mentor and he actually taught with my mother as well.  So I got a sort of a family thing here. 

Anyway, that sort of, you know, the interest, the genesis of what got me into the business. I came to New York as an actor and acted in New York for, I think, about 11 years and I did lot of theatre and television. And the transition from actor to director came in 1981 when I was on a show called Edge of Night.

Susan Dansby:  I didn’t even realize you were on Edge of Night.

Christopher Goutman:  Yeah, and the Executive Producer, Nick Nicholson – the late Nick Nicholson – was a supreme gentleman. And I just came up to him as I was finishing my first stint there. And I said, “You know, I direct.” And I gave him my resume, and he asked, “Well, do you want to do this?” And I said, “Sure, why not?” And that was when I first started directing television.

And it that easy back then – it’s so much harder now. But it was great. And I really enjoyed it. I freelanced on every show in New York – which I think was a real blessing for me, because I got exposed to so many different styles of directing, and learned not just in one place where you get one sort of way of doing things. But I learned from many directors and many shows, and that was a real education for me.

And in 1984 was when I got my first directing contract – I think it was ‘84 – and that was with Another World. I was there for five years, then I was at All My Children as a director for about eight or nine years. And then from All My Children, I went to As the World Turns as a director. And after about two years there, I was offered the executive producership of Another World, which was failing. And I think they just threw me in a last gasp attempt to save the show – which unfortunately we could not do. But, it was a great experience and I loved producing.  So it was a very intense time and I thought I’d go right back to directing.

More on Christopher Goutman:

Christopher Goutman: On Working with Writers
and Saying Goodbye to As the World Turns

The Challenges of Getting Hired as a Soap Opera Director
How Does a Soap Opera Executive Producer Choose Actors?
Christopher Goutman: What it’s Really Like to be a Soap Opera Executive Producer
Christopher Goutman Bio

About Susan Dansby

Susan Dansby has received four Emmy® Awards and two Writers Guild Awards for her work on the soap opera, AS THE WORLD TURNS. She is the author of HOW DID YOU GET THAT JOB? MY DREAM JOBS AND HOW THEY CAME TRUE.
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