, 7 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Here is the end result of my weeks of thinking about #ChernobylHBO. Basically, I am taking a pause to reassess the kind of stories I’ve been trying to tell.
For the last few years, I’ve combined working in Russian film with some stabs at Hollywood. Sold a pilot to TNT, etc. Being “Russian,” most of my pitches that gained traction had to do with Russia. Spy stuff, hacker stuff.
My assumption, supported by observations, was that writing Russia-set or -themed TV for a US audience required severe simplification at every turn. “Authenticity” meant first bending an idea into a familiar shape, then carefully dressing it with little insights.
Thanks to Chernobyl and @clmazin, I now know this is not true. With enough integrity and willpower, you can tell Russian stories globally at a level of sophistication I had thought unimaginable. And thus I feel like a hack.
Am I a good enough screenwriter to pull off something like Chernobyl? No. But not because I don’t have the needed structure or research or dialogue-writing skills. I do. No, because of the lifelong failure of confidence and imagination that led me to never even *try*.
And so the pause. I mean, I’m happy writing #Deutschland89. But I will never pitch a Russia-related project again unless it’s conceived and written at the *absolute outer limit* of my abilities and expertise. If it’s too weird to sell, so be it. But I’m done watering things down.
P.S. Please mentally substitute “Eastern European” or “post-Soviet” for every usage of “Russian” above. Among other things, that should also be part of the work that starts now.
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