Monday, March 07, 2005

The Man Behind Deadwood

Perhaps because my success in creative writing was fairly limited in school, I always wonder how authors go about their day. And what about screenwriters; is the medium of the silver screen or the TV inherently less planned? When writing fiction, do they write the same type of outlines that 8th grade english teachers advocate? Or do they just write a stream of conciousness that is, or isn't, edited later?

Salon's interview with David Milch, creator of Deadwood (the 2nd best show on TV after AD), shows that at least some TV writers are putting a lot of thought into their work. Interestingly though, Milch says that despite his copious amounts of research, he doesn't plot out the storylines before writing them. A third way! He used to teach literature at Yale so I'm not sure how representative he is but it's still a fascinating interview.
I had proposed to HBO a series about the city cops in Rome at the time of Nero. What had interested me was the idea of order without law. The Praetorian Guard, who were the emperor's guards, understood how they were to proceed. But for the city cops, who were called the Urban Cohorts, there was no law at all. So they were sort of making themselves up as they went along. I wanted to focus on that idea of how order is generated in the absence of law. They [HBO] were already doing a show about Rome in the time of Caesar, so they asked if I could engage the same themes in a different setting, and that was how I decided to do the western.
No, I don't plan any of the episodes. They just sort of happened. I sit down each morning and the scenes sort of declare themselves. When you do research, you study and study and study. And then, if you're a storyteller, you try to put all of that in your preconscious, then you forget the research.

the relevant link

you jerk! why don't you just interview me?!
done. check back soon for an interview with Steve Hely.
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