Friday, 30 January 2009

Ed Burns on the Culture Show, BBC Two

Ed Burns, co-creator of The Wire and Generation Kill (which made its UK debut on FX this week), made a brief appearance on The Culture Show last week to give a 'masterclass on creating cult TV'.

I'm sure the extract is on youTube by now, but these were his key points:

1. Know your subject
You should look to make the show for the people you're depicting - eg, The Wire was made for cops and addicts, while Generation Kill was made for the Marines.

Include something that particular audience will identify with; it then gives you a 'permission slip' to explore their world. These little titbits give an air of authenticity and allows you to know the characters better, so the bigger drama becomes more significant.

2. It's all in the casting
If you spend time on the casting process, your character will walk into the room.

Go sometimes with people who aren't actors but have stepped out of the world of the drama; they have an energising effect on the 'real' actors around them (eg Felicia Parsons in The Wire, Rudy Reyes in Generation Kill).

3. Never explain
"Say it once and move on"

4. Keep it real
In both Baltimore and Iraq, he was trying to tell a story that doesn't become stereotyped or demeaning of the people he was depicting.

Put flesh on the bones of your characters, giving them a human dimension. Eg, Bunk in The Wire being found drunk in the toilet after 'going over the side'.

Link: The Culture Show had an interview with David Simon about The Wire last year

I'll try and blog on Generation Kill in the next couple of days.

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