Malcolm MacRury Interview, Part FourComplications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Screenwriting, TV and Game Writing Blog


April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015

January 2016

February 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

March 2018

April 2018

June 2018

July 2018

October 2018

November 2018

December 2018

January 2019

February 2019

November 2019

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

August 2020

September 2020

October 2020

December 2020

January 2021

February 2021

March 2021

May 2021

June 2021

November 2021

December 2021

January 2022

February 2022

August 2022

September 2022

November 2022

February 2023

March 2023

April 2023

May 2023

July 2023

September 2023

November 2023

January 2024

February 2024


Saturday, January 17, 2009

CRAFTY: One of the big problems with a show about peacekeepers, I would think, is how little they can actually do. Did that worry you? How did you handle it?
MACRURY: We talked a lot about that. Here's a fresh idea: these people don't have guns. They can't solve their problems by shooting. They can't blow the bad guys away. But then you have a problem: the heroes can't take dramatic action. And of course you end up with kind of cheating it. To make them compelling, they gotta break the rules. One's a spy, one will commit murder, one's sleeping with everyone, and the other one is having psychotic visions. And the one who's the moral center is breaking rules to do the right thing. So that's how you get around "what do you mean they can't use guns?"
CRAFTY: It's sort of the difference between the US and Canada, encapsulated in their TV shows. On 24, it's all, "hey, let's torture this guy!" And on THE BORDER, it's, "Okay, we can't torture the guy, so what are we gonna do?"
MACRURY: America doesn't have peacekeepers, doesn't have UN observers. This is something we [Canadians] do, Indians do, Austrlians do. In fact, the school you go to learn to be an observer is in Kingston, Ontario. Americans don't do it. No peacekeepers ... unless it's a military action.
CRAFTY: The show goes pretty dark. I mean, there's a rule you can't kill an animal on screen and you can't hurt a kid. You kill a kid on screen. And that's not the worst thing that happens in that episode.
MACRURY: Yeah, I ... you're writing something and you have to trust how it's going to be conveyed and you write the images. How it's shot, how it's portrayed, that's the director's job. Mario comes out of the theatre of the absurd. And there, you do show the horror. I'm a little more squeamish than that -- I might have pulled back. But I think you have to show enough to honor the situation, so it doesn't feel like a fairy tale. And that's the great thing on pay cable, they encourage you. Is it exploitative? I hope not. I hope that in fact it draws you into the reality , as close a you're going to dare to go. It's something you wrestle with. When you read about the real stories, that's what you're drawn to. To try to write about it in a way that wouldn't disturb people would be phony. It would be, "I copped out." I didn't take the audience into the world I said I was going to convey.

That's again why we didn't want to do something happening right now. The stories we're drawing from are ten years old. You can't underestimate the passage of time. These aren't raw wounds. The fact that it isn't ripped from the headlines allows you to take a bit more care that it isn't more exploitative.

And yet you're walking a line. Yes, we killed a kid onscreen - and we also saved a kid on screen. Could we have just done the second? But that wouldn't have taken you the places you need to go. It would have been THE A TEAM, with no cost to our character.
CRAFTY: The show is almost entirely serial, whereas your typical broadcast show would be strongly episodic with overlying season arcs. How did you make the decision to go serialized?
MACRURY: Again that's funny because the first drafts were for the CBC. But a serialized show is what The Movie Network and Movie Central wanted. Something that is a page turner. You put one down, you want to see the next. And in the writing of it, that's immediately where we went to. I can't even remember any discussion. The show always went from day to day. The second episode could be the second day.

That's how we did the first season of DEADWOOD. First day, second day, third day. Those first 4 eps are 4 days in a row. I don't know if that was unconscious or not. It can work to give you some dramatic energy. It's always in real time. End of the day. I think every episode is one day. To have, you know, act two is a different day -- there was never any sense of that.
CRAFTY: When I write hour drama, I'm always pulled to make each episode about 24 hours. Sometimes I have to force myself not to compress things so much. An hour of TV feels like it wants to be a day of narrative.
MACRURY: On the show I've been working on, REPUBLIC OF DOYLE, each episode is like 3 days. But it's an investigation show.

I think I would argue that if you look at the episodes, they are completely serialized yet there is a thematic closure to each one. Each writer got to tell a complete story within the episode. And often we ended up using montages at the end to highlight that. In the first episode there's the parade, the burial, the murders, ending with two of our characters on the steps, "You want to have a drink?"
CRAFTY: Pay cable doesn't have act outs, but did you write in terms of acts, or was it all just fluid storytelling, movie-style?
MACRURY: I think that varied from writer to writer. Some people found it easier to think in acts. Leaving the act structure aside, there is a natural progression of things are going to happen.
CRAFTY: But do you think in terms of, there are five acts, and in each of them I have to serve each of these story lines?
MACRURY: Yes. We'd find the main story that we're following. And then things would be following from that. The story structure gets more complicated as we get into the series, we start pulling in those three grunts [Canadian peacekeeping soldiers], and once they're in, we've got to keep servicing their story, even though they're not our main guys. We always tried to tie the stories together, for example when Kulkin comes to the mass grave.
CRAFTY: You tied things up pretty well at the end. Do you think there's a ZOS 2? Would that depend on the numbers, or do you feel you've said what you wanted to say?
MACRURY: I think we're done in Jadac. If there were a ZOS Season 2, it would be more along the lines of a PRIME SUSPECT model where you take the lead character and put them in another world. Maybe because we only had eight, we really put everything into it. I don't know where else we'd go in Jadac.
CRAFTY: So what's next?
MACRURY: I recently did a pilot for Showcase called LAWYERS, GUNS AND MONEY.
CRAFTY: Great title.
MACRURY: I wrote it originally for HBO -- in fact that's what got me the job on DEADWOOD. And I just got back from Newfoundland, where I did a half hour pilot, directed by Jim Allodi. with Allan Hawco. He was the Brit Captain in ZOS. It was a half-hour called THE REPUBLIC OF DOYLE. They asked us to turn it into an hour, so we were trying to figure out how to do that.
CRAFTY: Of course they did. Because comedy, drama, really, what's the diff?
MACRURY: There was always a lot of comedy in it, but we're adding more mystery. It's a private detective show set in St. John's. Yeah, it's ROCKFORD FILES.
CRAFTY: That's funny, because Kay Reindl was just blogging about how everybody wants to write a light detective show, but you just can't sell them.
MACRURY: Yeah, everybody wants to write ROCKFORD FILES. Fortunately, everybody's funny in St. John's.
CRAFTY: Thanks so much for talking to us!

ZOS premieres Monday, January 19th at 9 pm PST on Movie Central, and at 10 pm EST on The Movie Network.

Labels: ,


great interview...thanks Malcolm and Alex!

By Blogger wcdixon, at 1:24 PM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.

This page is powered by Blogger.