True Detective is only three episodes in and is already being lauded as the best new television show on HBO. The creator (and also writer and director), Nic Pizzolatto, started out bartending before writing novels, teaching literature courses, and breaking into screenwriting/directing. As he explains, it was a matter of grit and always pushing to get better. In a recent interview on The Daily Beast, he explained his determined climb from Louisiana to Los Angeles:
Why didn’t you go straight into television?
The idea of doing something like that for a guy with my class background? It’s ludicrous. You might as well say you want to be a movie star.
Tell me about your class background.
Just growing up in south Louisiana, going to state school for college, and working two jobs. I spent four years bartending in Austin. I never had any money or any window into the world of TV.
So how did you break in?
One of the things with writing is that you don’t need money to do it, and you don’t need other people to do it. You just need paper and a pen. And if you can learn how to do it well enough…
How did you learn?
In 2004, I was in grad school, and Deadwood, The Wire, and The Sopranos were all on HBO. Those shows were actually filling my hunger for fiction as an audience more than the contemporary fiction that I was reading. They seemed very much like auteur works—but the auteur works of a writer, not the auteur works of a director. Then I learned what a showrunner was and I was like, “Wow, that actually sounds like the perfect job for me.” But the idea of getting to do it was just silly, so I stuck with what I knew and just kept going with that.
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