9 TV Creators Who Must Come To The Big Screen

9 TV Creators Who Must Come To The Big Screen

[Editor’s Note: This post is presented in partnership with Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand in support of Indie Film Month. Today’s pick is "Are You Here," which you can catch On Demand.]

wunderkind Matthew Weiner takes a bold step this weekend to a place he’s
never gone before: the movies. "Are You Here," Weiner’s feature film debut that
premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, stars Owen Wilson
and Zach Galifianakis as two best friends on a rocky road trip back home after
one inherits a large sum of money following the death of his estranged father.
The comedy may seem like a stretch from the heavy dramatic work Weiner has
mastered over his 21 years in television, but the premise sounds ripe with the
character centric studies he does so well. Weiner, who rose to prominence under
David Chase as a producer and writer on the fifth and sixth seasons of "The
Sopranos," has cemented his own name in the television history books as the
creator of AMC’s multiple Emmy Award-winning drama, "Mad Men." Just how
successful his filmmaking career becomes remains to be seen (though it could
very well take off with "Mad Men" ending in Spring 2015), but as "Are You Here"
opens in select theaters and on video on demand platforms we can’t help but
think of other television creators who should follow suit. Although many
cinematic voices are migrating to the small screen these days, here are 9
television creators who should swing the other way and bring their television
talents to the movies.

Note: Since "Are You Here" represents Weiner’s first foray into feature
filmmaking, only television creators that have yet to be involved with the
making of a feature length movie have been considered, which unfortunately
means no Louis C.K. ("Pootie Tang"), no David Benioff ("Troy"), no Shonda
Rhimes ("Crossroads"), etc.

Bouchard ("Bob’s Burgers")

After four seasons full of hilarious bickering,
family dysfunction and growing popularity, FOX’s "Bob’s Burgers" finally won
Outstanding Animated Program at this year’s Primetime Creative Arts Emmy
Awards. Loren Bouchard’s oddball animated sitcom is rarely as laugh-out-loud
funny as its channel mate, "Family Guy," but its more subversive comedy style
grows funnier, wittier and more vulgar with every episode spent watching the
clashing, idiosyncratic family members of the Belcher clan. Be it the extrovert
Linda, the precocious troublemaker Louise or the puberty-plagued Tina, each
Belcher has a sidesplitting personality to instigate a whole seasons worth of
shenanigans on his or her own. And yet, it’s the convoluted way Bouchard bumps
these personas into one another that gives the show its addictive comedic voice
and, at certain times, its unexpected heart. Equally as effective is his comic
pacing, which mirrors its characters by balancing deadpan with manic zaniness.
While Bouchard could certainly take a page out of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s
playbook by taking his lovable animated family to the big screen, his affinity
for eccentric characters and the way in which he combines both workplace and
family comedy structures could work just as well in a live action movie format.

S. DeKnight ("Spartacus: Blood and Sand," "Daredevil")

When Steven S.
DeKnight premiered "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" on Starz in 2010, many were
quick to judge the highly stylized drama as nothing but a "300" small screen knockoff.
But throughout the bloody good first season of the sword-and-sandal epic,
DeKnight proved his efficiency for turning gratuitous sex and over-the-top
graphic violence into imperative world-building tools. The four "Spartacus"
entries transcend their guilty pleasure roots thanks to the fiery,
unpredictable societal structure that DeKnight has his gladiators revolt
against. The show is the definitive underdog story, and its arresting style,
sharp editing and ingenious use of slow motion give it a testosterone fueled
energy that revs up the characters’ desires for revenge. "Spartacus" proves the
cult favorite showrunner can ground the fantastical in real human drama, so no
wonder Disney and Marvel have recruited him to replace Drew Goddard as the man
in charge of one of their first ventures into television, Netflix’s upcoming "Daredevil."
His ability to bring soul to what should more-or-less be cartoonish pulp bodes
well for the superhero show, as does his astute world-building skills that should
fit nicely into the scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A handful of
independent directors have been sinking their teeth into blockbusters as of
late (Marc Webb, Gareth Edwards, etc.), and if the trend ever crosses over to
television creators, there’s no reason DeKnight shouldn’t lead the charge.

Fuller ("Pushing Daisies," "Hannibal")

Bryan Fuller currently heads NBC’s critically
adored horror series, "Hannibal," and the creator has been quite vocal about a
multi-year story arc that extends way beyond the upcoming third season. Whether
or not his plans for the show come true (you never know given the adaptation’s
low ratings on Friday nights), whenever Fuller’s schedule does open up he
should absolutely seize the opportunity to bring his breathtaking vision to the
movies. Could you imagine the visual high that would result from watching the
eye-popping storybook world of "Pushing Daisies" in IMAX? Or the hypnotic chill
"Hannibal" would send up your spine in a dark theater? Echoing the masterpieces
of Stanley Kubrick, Fuller’s illustrious set designs manipulate the eye through
the use of symmetry and linear perspective. Like Wes Anderson, he employs
sensory color palettes that draw out the thematic tones and characterizations
of his warped stories. And like Tim Burton, the fantasy aficionado combines the
beautiful and the macabre to bring unusual, striking worlds to visual life. In
the tradition of these visionary filmmakers, the larger screen Fuller is able
to project his works on the better, making him perhaps the biggest no-brainer
when it comes to television creators who need to make a jump to feature

Kohan ("Weeds," "Orange is the New Black")

Jenji Kohan sure has come a long
way over her 20 years in the television industry. After writing episodes for
award winning shows such as "Mad About You," "Tracy Takes On…" and "Gilmore
Girls," the brash and big-spirited Kohan emerged as one to watch after the
debut of her 2005 Showtime hit, "Weeds." While the majority came to criticize
the suburban pot comedy for sticking around way past its due, the 45-year-old
showrunner silenced many of her naysayers with her groundbreaking Netflix
prison dramedy, "Orange is the New Black." Nominated for 12 Primetime Emmy Awards
this year, including Outstanding Comedy Series, the show has justifiably drawn
praise for its wide-ranging subject matter (sexuality, race, poverty, etc.),
but it’s the vibrant character work that makes it such a delight. "Black" is
one of the only shows in which nearly every character radiates empathy. All of
the prisoners have memorable personalities that make them humorous, but their relatable
issues and human struggles keep their stories involving and fill even the clichéd
moments with emotional resonance. Watching "Black" is like watching a livewire
David O. Russell film. On one hand, you can’t help but root for all of the
twisted characters to succeed, and on the other, you have a group of talented
actors who bounce off and steal scenes from one another so quickly it’s like an
infectious 100-meter dash. Although Kohan already fits nicely into a Hollywood
that needs more female voices and whose go-to demographic is quickly becoming
women, it’s ultimately her ensemble wonders that make her a prime candidate for
the big screen.

Pizzolatto ("True Detective")

Has anyone burst the media zeitgeist over the
past year as powerfully as crime novelist turned television creator Nic
Pizzolatto? Over the eight episodes that make up the first season of "True Detective,"
the 38-year-old showrunner created an HBO drama with so much critical acclaim
and such enormous buzz that it crashed the Emmy Drama categories as
dramatically as it crashed HBO Go in the hours leading up to its May season
finale. Nowadays, even the tiniest bit of news regarding Season 2 causes a stir
among fans as rabid as any new superhero movie rumor. While novels such as
"Galveston" and the self-contained seasonal structure of "True Detective"
suggest that Pizzolatto prefers the more detailed freedom of literary and
television formats to movies, it’s his mastery of tone that makes a potential
feature film debut an exciting prospect. Interesting characters and absorbing
stories are the backbone of any mystery-thriller, but a genre entry lives or
dies by its tone. "True Detective" certainly has an engaging crime (The Yellow
King inspired countless conspiracies among fans) and a now-iconic character in
the form of the prophetic Rust Cohle, but what strongly binds the eight
episodes together is the unnerving tone full of cyclical suffering. The
unsettling atmospheric maze that Pizzolatto forces his characters to navigate
echoes the foreboding weight of a great David Fincher or Denis Villeneuve
movie. He may be a fresh face when it comes to live action entertainment, but
here’s hoping feature filmmaking is somewhere on Pizzolatto’s bucket list.

Simon ("The Wire," "Treme")

Long before creating what is often considered the
pinnacle of television drama with HBO’s "The Wire," David Simon spent 12 years
working the city desk at The Baltimore Sun. Simon’s work experience not only
led him directly to television, as he got his start writing for and producing
NBC’s police procedural "Homicide: Life on the Streets," based off his 1991
non-fiction novel of the same name, but it also allowed him to construct
television dramas with an unflinching journalistic eye. "The Wire" and "Treme"
are tremendously gripping because the source of Simon’s plot development and
character building is the social, economic and political landscapes of their
settings (crime-riddled Baltimore and post-Katrina New Orleans). These two
dramas showcase fictional characters existing in the hardships of the American
present, and the results are ambitious exposés on
the impassioned struggles and triumphs of our everyday citizens. America and
her sprawling cities are always the complex center of Simon’s dramatic worlds,
and the docudrama realism he employs to tell his stories guarantees that
characters on both sides of the law and economic divide are given equal
scrutiny. Crooks have souls, cops have demons and vice versa. How the
individual survives in his or her institutionalized setting is what unites the
dramas of David Simon, and it’s this grand thematic overtone that could help the
showrunner master the cinematic medium with a potent American drama.

Veena Sud ("The Killing")

All of the television creators
mentioned have been included for the valuable skills on display in their
respective shows, but it’s Veena Sud’s creative errors that make a cinematic
move an enticing prospect for her. Sud’s "The Killing" began its first season
as one of the breakout dramas of 2011. Following the Seattle police force as
they try to solve the murder of a teenage girl, each of the drama’s 13 episodes
represented a full day in the two-week investigation. This narrative hook
allowed Sud to drastically slow down the pace of the age-old television
procedural in order to depict the devastating moral weight that comes from such
a sacrificing job. In many ways, "The Killing" was a precursor of "True Detective,"
featuring two moody cops with clashing personalities who learn to trust
themselves and each other while searching for a vicious killer. But when Sud
infamously did not solve the murder in the first season finale, her staggering
fall from grace sent "The Killing" into a double-cancelation spiral. While Sud
didn’t necessarily deserve so much hatred for prolonging the mystery into
another season, the problem with her decision was that it dragged out an already
slow-as-molasses plot to its breaking point. Showing each full day of the
investigation was an intriguing emotional entryway into the series, but Sud’s
storytelling just couldn’t sustain that many hours of detective work to keep
the drama remotely interesting through a second season and beyond. As the show
continued to throw pointless red herrings at the audience and turn its main
detective into a frustratingly gullible cop, it was clear that a majority of
the show’s runtime existed solely to keep it functioning until its central
mystery was solved at the end of each season. While disastrous plotting has
tainted her name, it’s hard to deny the power of Sud’s gloomy tone and the
character depth she was able to wrestle out of her two leads, particularly Joel
Kinnaman as Stephen Holden. If she can take these strengths to the movies,
where a constrained runtime will force her to keep her storytelling in check,
Sud might just be able to get herself back into the good graces of critics and

Sutter ("Sons of Anarchy")

As Kurt Sutter’s grisly FX drama "Sons of Anarchy"
enters its seventh and final season this September, it would do the outspoken
showrunner good to step away from the motorcycle gang for a movie break before
heading back to the cable network for the rumored 1960s prequel series.
Hollywood has long struggled to provide mature audiences with dark, gruesome
dramas (Scott Cooper’s "Out of the Furnace" tried and failed last awards
season), but Sutter’s unrelenting storytelling abilities and visceral thrills
that hit with brute force could make for an especially tormenting R-rated drama
film. His grim work on "Sons of Anarchy" already proves he can execute the
oppressive, bleak tones that have come to define the post 9/11 cinematic age,
and his knack for layered storytelling could really be tightened in a feature
film setting. Part of what keeps the pulse of "Sons of Anarchy" beating with
tense rage is how Sutter keeps his dueling stories teetering on the edge of one
another so that every choice made within the gang has a direct consequence on
the family dynamics. Sutter is the king of the dramatic ripple, but the longer
the show has continued the more repetitive this shifting story structure has
felt. But that could change for the better under the constraints of a
two-and-a-half-hour runtime. Many of his longer episodes have powerful
self-contained arcs that would make any feature film boil with aggression
(we’re guessing the same will be true for Season 7’s 90-minute premiere), and
the way he has his characters face off against each other in a world where
everyone is some kind of villain would make for a complex movie experience for

Weisberg ("The Americans")

The best political movies and television shows are
first and foremost human stories, and former CIA-officer Joe Weisberg sure has
one hell of an emotional hook at the core of his Cold War espionage drama, "The
Americans." Centered on two Soviet KGB spies living as a married couple in the
suburbs of Virginia, the period thriller cleverly ties in historical events and
weaves its own intricate web of secrets, but its true power as a television
drama comes directly from how it puts its constantly evolving central
relationship through the wartime wringer. The human component of "The
Americans" is what has quickly established it as television’s best political
thriller. While Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa couldn’t help but turn the human
relationship of "Homeland" into a messy soap opera, Weisberg has yet to lose
sight of what makes his show so engrossing: it combines the marital suspense of
its lead characters with its Cold War setting to become a modern allegory on
how family and loyalty struggle to survive war. If Weisberg ever makes the jump
to the movies, we imagine a politically charged drama with the evocative sting
of Paul Greengrass or Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, filmmakers who similarly
draw the humanity out of political situations to create works that embody the
war torn psyche. 

Indiewire has partnered with Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand to kick off Indie Film Month. Enjoy exceptionally creative and uniquely entertaining new Indie releases ("Under the Skin," "The Congress," "The Trip to Italy," and more) along with classic, Throwback Thursday indie titles ("Swingers," "Black Swan," and more) all month long on Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand. Go HERE daily for movie reviews, interviews, and exclusive footage of the suggested TWC movie of the day and catch the best Indie titles on TWC Movies On Demand.

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Sutter wrote the upcoming "Southpaw". So, that’s something.

But why the push to get these guys to move from television to film? They’re successful in television and have done some groundbreaking work. Despite the gains in the quality of television in the last decade, the "film is better" attitude still seems to prevail (witness the surprise when a major star signs on for an HBO program instead of another film).

Fede Gianotti

Nice article, but actually Matthew Weiner made a movie in 1995 called "What Do You Do All Day?" An indie flick that nobody saw. So, if he gets a pass, Louis CK should too.


That’s fine — there are already enough shitty movies. These peeps will get the call up the next time Marvel wants less personality in their shows’ visual look.

The thing to realize is that these people aren’t directors. Oh, wait, I forgot that David Chase’s rock and roll film made tons of cash and showed up on a ton of top-ten lists.

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