Alan Ball Says TV is More Grown Up Than Film

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True Blood executive producer Alan Ball is in Australia for a pair of speaking engagements, and gave an interview to Yahoo! New Zealand  in advance of his appearance. In addition to addressing the now familiar “the show isn’t the same as the books” complaint, Alan talks about how much better TV is than film right now and what he looks for when casting actors for True Blood.

While he has worked in both television and film, Ball says the small screen is able to tackle more sophisticated storylines.

“Partially it’s because the economic models are different and partially it’s because you have hours and hours to tell a story where as in a movie you just have two hours and you have to simplify everything down to its pure essentials.

“I also feel that in America, at least, movies are all targeted at 15-year-olds and there’s nothing wrong with that, they’re the ones that are buying tickets, but as an adult I feel that TV is a much more welcoming place for complicated, adult writing.”

“I tend to gravitate to more towards actors who have stage experience and who have technique,” he says.

“If an actor can come in and make a character come alive in a way that surprises me and plays the beats of the scene then that’s gold.

He says it’s a rare thing in Hollywood, where often people are cast because they’re beautiful and charismatic rather than good actors.

“If they have a day to shoot a scene then they can do take after take, then these moments happen accidentally, then I could edit together a performance, but in TV the schedule is so quick that I don’t have time for that,” he says.

“A lot of these people become movie stars but I look for people who know what they’re doing and who can keep a clear delineation between themselves and the character.

“Not say ‘this scene doesn’t make sense to me because I would never do that’ and I’d say ‘you’re not actually a vampire’. You’d be surprised at how many people say things like that.”

(Read the full interview here…)

Alan Ball is scheduled for a conversation with Wil Anderson: Vampires, Death and the Mundane, on Thursday, September 8 at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, and with Alan Brough on Saturday, September 10 at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne.

Fan of the Southern Vampire Mysteries since 2001, and co-admin of True-Blood.net since 2008. Team Sookie!

7 Comments

  1. Bethany

    September 6, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    I do agree that tv lets you do more, especially when HBO is involved. I just can’t picture them running TB on Ion or ABC Family. LOL I also wish that they could come closer to following the books, while expanding on the stories, not completely obliterating them. There would be no show without the incredible books, and fans are VERY loyal, so they would be sure to promote the show much more if they were garunteed to see the key scenes they have been waiting to see brought to life from the books. They missed the mark in season 3, not giving us the Sookie getting staked/Eric giving her his blood scene, and the shower scene for season 4 fell so far below what it could have been, it just makes me want to see actual movies made for the books to get things right. But I understand AB’s stance that he wants to spread his wings etc. I just think he forgets sometimes why so many of us tune in each week, just waiting for that one reminder that these shows are based on one of the best book series ever written.

    • Jessica

      September 6, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      I think the show is great because of the writers, but I also really wish Charlaine Harris was more involved with the series. That would likely help the show strike the correct balance between being provocative and surprising but also staying true to the fans of the book. I think Bethany hit it right on the nail with her comment about AB. He needs a reminder that the books fans make up a core component of the audience, so it’s not just about what he likes or wants.

      • Mel

        September 6, 2011 at 9:39 pm

        When Charlaine sold the rights to the Sookie novels to Alan Ball & HBO, that was the end of her involvement in the TV series. The novels are her domain; the TV show is Alan’s.

        • summer

          September 7, 2011 at 10:05 am

          Also per the full interview:

          Alan Ball states, “Ultimately I just work with the writers on the show and we just try to do what we think is the best film version of her books.”

          AB also mentioned that movie film can protray books closer and TV series can go much more into detail:

          “Partially it’s because the economic models are different and partially it’s because you have hours and hours to tell a story where as in a movie you just have two hours and you have to simplify everything down to its pure essentials.”

          So, overall, I think AB/writers are doing a MIGHTY FINE job of going deeper into the books and creating us a world and characters that we have become greatly fond of.

          Even though, some characters from the book have transition into bigger characters on the show, the characters work, and I enjoy watching them every Sunday.

    • Mel

      September 6, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      You want ONE reminder that the show is based on the books? How about “Debbie, I abjure you”? Eric losing his memory? Marnie starting a war with the vampires? Eric replacing Sookie’s door and microwave? Bill accidentally dating his great-great-great-great-granddaughter? That’s just off the top of my head.

      • Jessica

        September 6, 2011 at 10:58 pm

        Lol! It’s easy to be a critic from the comfort of our homes. In all seriousness though, I like that the show is provocative. If everything went the way I wanted it to go, it wouldn’t be as interesting. Getting PO’ed and chatting with other fans is part of the fun.

  2. Kristen

    September 6, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    I think alot of the ppl complaining about the series not matching the book are missing the point of the show. I LOVE the books; I’ve read them all about 5 times, but I don’t need an exact retelling of them in the show. If AB stuck strictly to the books, I don’t think the fan base would be as large, and I don’t think book fans would even be as interested. Who wants to watch a show where you know every detail that’s going to happen? There’s alot in the books that just wouldn’t translate well on tv. I loved bubba in the books, but seriously I dunno how they could play that out without it getting cheesy. Maybe We should just let AB bring his interpretation to the screen and enjoy.