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David Cronenberg is the Latest Film Director Looking to Jump to TV

David Cronenberg.
David Cronenberg.
Image: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

While film becomes increasingly monopolistic and expensive, TV is starting to become a really cushy place for the auteur. Now David Cronenberg, creepy cult creator extraordinaire, is interested in making the leap.

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Speaking during a panel at the Venice Film Festival, Cronenberg, who has very occasionally made the leap into TV direction in the past, said that he was in the process of developing what Variety calls a “long-form personal TV project.” While he didn’t offer any more direct details, that’s pretty scintillating.

“Today Today TV screens are getting bigger and bigger and therefore the difference between theatre and domestic viewing has become really flimsy,” Cronenberg said. “The rule used to be that closeup shots were only done for TV, and not for movies. But today that’s no longer the case.”

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Cronenberg, who was once offered the job to helm the second season of True Detective, but apparently declined due to disliking the script, is only the most recent legacy director to decide a jump from film to television makes creative sense. Most notably, David Lynch, who was pretty burned by TV in the ‘90s, returned for the third season of Twin Peaks, creating a work of such strangeness and depth that it proved almost singlehandedly that TV might be the new destination for weird personal projects from classic cult directors. 

io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

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DISCUSSION

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lightninglouie

“Today Today TV screens are getting bigger and bigger and therefore the difference between theatre and domestic viewing has become really flimsy,” Cronenberg said. “The rule used to be that closeup shots were only done for TV, and not for movies. But today that’s no longer the case.”

Not surprising. People forget that the main reason filmmakers tended to look down on TV was that, with some exceptions, it was pretty shitty until the late ‘80s. Once it was forced to compete with video and cable, you started seeing more money and talent go into shows, starting with the high-concept “dramedies” like thirtysomething and Moonlighting, and then continuing in the ‘90s with Twin Peaks, The X-Files, Homicide (aka The Wire Episode I), and ER (a total soap for most of its run, but a brilliant show for the first couple of years).

The big shift came with HD, which meant that you could compose in a widescreen frame. And that, I think, led to the current situation, where TV shows are starting to turn into serial movies, or true “novels for TV” with actual cinematic production values. It’s a great opportunity for filmmakers who feel that the emphasis on blockbusters has priced them out of the medium.