Settings gain extra desire through experience

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Settings gain extra

David Milch is one of the great storytellers of our time. His medium is TV. NYPD BlueDeadwood. And now he tells the story of horse racing, one that he’s lived through as a compulsive creator. It’s his own experience at the track that makes him so careful while creating the new HBO series Luck, airing in January.

In the LA TimesGeoff Boucher interviewed Milch about the excitement of filming a story (with director Michael Mann) about Santa Anita Park. How he’s been there a lot. Milch jokes that “no, it was my cousin. My cousin spent a lot of time there.” But listen to what he says about the settings you write from your own experience.

The setting is exciting, yes, but there’s some nervousness in making it too. You want to get it right. You always feel a particular duty of care to whatever world you’re trying to portray, but then you especially feel it when there is a lived experience against which you’re measuring the activities of the imagination. I think that sense of responsibility is compounded. That’s one of the reasons I was so grateful to Michael, to bring that separate eye. That really enriched the end product.

Just don’t be holding out hope yet for a completion of the superior Deadwood, where HBO got cold feet about the costs of that stellar story and ended its run prematurely. Like leaving out the last four chapters of a novel. At the NY Times, an interview included this grim humor.

“Every man’s entitled to hope,” Mr. Milch said with a laugh. “It looked like we were getting close, about six months ago. It’s a complicated transaction, so we’re moving forward in other areas.”

Like a new deal to film the works of William Faulkner. No kidding. Milch has Iowa Writer’s Workshop chops, after all. They know a little about story there.

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