Alan Ball: From American Suburbia to Louisiana Vampires

November 6, 2009 by  

alan_ballAs we all know Alan Ball is the driving force behind the phenomenal True Blood series.  If you look back into the career of this exceptionally talented writer you will see that it all began with a satirical screenplay, “American Beauty”. American Beauty was Alan’s view on typical American suburbia. Alan explained that the script was meant:

“to be an indictment of the shallowness of American values that [Americans] are basically conditioned from birth to accept as gospel. In that regard, I don’t know if there is any more scathing indictment of American culture than American culture itself.”

Prior to American Beauty, which won Ball the 1999 Academy Award for best original screenplay, Alan had been working on the most American genre: sitcoms. American Beauty threw Alan Ball into the spotlight. Alan had this to say about the new found notoriety:

“It was a strange experience… It’s a place that I’m not entirely comfortable. And all the things that are really, really huge traps for an artist of any kind were all just sprung on me at once.”

After American Beauty Ball created the hugely popular HBO Series, “Six Feet Under”. The show ran for five seasons and chronicled the lives of a family of morticians. In 2008 Ball once again worked with the Home Box Office Company and created the new phenomenal hit, “True Blood”. True Blood is an adaptation of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels. Ball discovered Charlaine’s novels while he was waiting for his dental appointment. At the bookstore he was amused by the tagline of one of her books, “Dead Until Dark” , ‘Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend wasn’t such a good idea after all’. Alan instantly bought the book. Alan admits he couldn’t put it down. As Alan was in the midst of the fourth book he started to envision the books becoming a TV series.

“What I really loved, was that they walked this razor’s edge of tone between romance and the supernatural and horror and comedy and social commentary and Wal-Mart trailer park people… I just found it delightful. It was so escapist and so much fun.”

True Blood has further cemented Ball’s warm relationship with television, in which, it seems, he is content.

“It’s just a lot easier to get interesting, complicated, morally ambiguous stories about flawed characters done on the small screen, than it is on the big screen.”

With such an amazing ability to write about such disparate matters, Alan explains how he deals with such depressing issues:

“One of my ways of dealing with depressing matters, is to make fun of them. It is one of the things that I learned in adolescence, and I’ve never really outgrown it because it has helped me survive a lot.”

As an ending note, Alan Ball will host a screening of True Blood at 10:30 am Sunday, November 8, at UVA’s Culbreth Theatre, 109 Culbreth Road, Charlottesville, VA. At noon that same ay, also at Culbreth, he will introduce American Beauty, which will be followed by a Q&A.  A wonderful opportunity to see Alan in person!

SOURCE:  The Hook

Photo Credit:  HBO Inc.