FROM Wigtownshire to the bright lights of Hollywood, Richard Brown has come a long way.
The 44-year-old is the toast of the TV elite as an executive producer of hit series True Detective.
From a childhood in Newton Stewart, Richard now mixes with film stars Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams and has received both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.
His fondness for the area he grew up in, however, remains.
“It is beautiful and a great place to grow up as a child,” he recalls.
In Hollywood, he has been going against the norm but the decision has seen True Detective universally praised and become a moneymaker for television network HBO.
He said: “I was looking for, what they call in America, a miniseries and I was looking for one director, which is not common. Normally a TV show is run by the writer and the producer and in film it’s the opposite, the director gets to capture the idea.”
His plan was to make a hybrid of the two mediums – film and TV – over ten hours long and discussions with young author Nic Pizzolatto led to the development of the hit series.
“Television shows are usually controlled by the writers and a series of directors are brought in, while in movies it’s the director that’s in control,” he said. “In this case because it was one director, a film director, Cary Fukunaga and not a TV director, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson were really attracted to working with him, then they read the script and really liked it.”
With big names signed to the project, the next thing for Richard to do was get a television network on board but, with McConaughey and Harrelson, that job was much easier.
Richard said: “We went to a lot of networks and HBO was the perfect fit because they were willing to take the risk on a full series, instead of demanding a pilot be made.
“They know their audience and because they are subscriber-based, instead of being driven by advertisers, that gave the show a great advantage, which it wouldn’t have had.”
Richard admits that the success of the first season took him and the rest of the team by surprise and also upped the bar for the second installment.
He said: “We have been shocked as to how well it has done. We knew it was a good story, with a good director and cast and that it would probably do well in America and the UK, but it’s crazy. It’s been a hit in places like Korea, Australia and Argentina.
“There was never going to be a second season but, after how well the first one did, we decided to do a new one but a completely different story, with a different director and different cast.”
When not hanging out with Hollywood’s elite, Wigtownshire is still a draw for Richard with family at home and he is due back for this year’s Wigtown Book Festival.
He said: “My mum has been badgering me for years to do the book festival. She was part of it when it first started. It allows me to come back home and spend some time with my friends and family at a unique festival.”
Richard’s big break into the entertainment industry actually came in music in London for Island Records, before he jetted off to Los Angeles at the age of 21.
“I was one of the lucky ones,” he admits. “I met Chris Blackwell, owner of Island Records, and we started talking about music and it was really exciting to do something like that at that age. It was fun, you get to learn about bands and how you develop them on to making a record and you are involved with an aspect of their career.
“It’s a fun world to be part of when you are young but there is also a dark side to it and I was quite happy to make the move towards films.”
Richard combined the two in 2003 to help create The Work of Director DVD series with documentaries on some of the most eccentric music video directors, such as Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham and Michel Gondry.
Richard admitted: “It was suprising how well it did but, when we tried to do it again, YouTube had come along and everyone could get things like that for free.”
With the expansion of television shows onto streaming platforms, Richard is excited about the potetial – not only for his shows but for others that will be created.
“I love Netflix, they have completely changed the marketplace,” he said. “The doors have now opened and where there was once only about ten networks that you could sell to, now there are about 45, all wanting content.”
Next up for Richard is a TV version of the book Catch 22, using the same techniques that worked on True Detective.
“It’s going to be a long film of about eight hours made into a television series,” he revealed. “I want to keep finding projects that I’m interested in and keep finding interesting and compelling ways to tell them. This idea of combining film and TV is very interesting to me, to find ways to scratch the walls between film and television.”
• Featured in Issue 4 (Autumn 2015)