Selling A Television Show To Amazon Studios –
The Story Behind COMRADE DETECTIVE
Check out Amazon Studios new series Comrade Detective directed and co-executive produced by Rhys Thomas and co-written by Brian Gatewood (along with Alessandro Tanaka). Rhys is known for his work on Saturday Night Live, Staten Island Summer and Documentary Now! Brian is known for his work on Dice, Animal Practice, and The Sitter
Film Courage: We are wondering how you got started in the entertainment industry? I know you had a film with your writing partner Alessandro Tanaka in 2011 starring Jonah Hill (THE SITTER).
Brian Gatewood: Yes. I met Alessandro at Columbia Film School where he graduated with distinction and I dropped out but we had already started writing together and working together. I guess our first professional job [writing] was probably around 2005 or so. We started working for Warner Brothers and then we spent many years doing a number of different rewrites on scripts, we do adaptations, we do punch ups, and we ultimately had an original (we wrote THE SITTER) that came out. It was a lot of writing, a lot of hard work to break in. It’s not easy but getting inside the studio system was actually an advantage for us in that we were essentially paid to work on writing for a number of years and hone skills and take on different genres and build up sort of a toolbox of writing. So it was ultimately great, but it was a grind.
Film Courage: I know the two of you [Alessandro Tanaka] have been writing together for over a decade or so?
Brian Gatewood: Yeah…gosh…it’s been a long time. We met at our first writing class in Columbia and we just had similar taste. We liked each other’s scripts and our second year we decided to write something together, which turned out to be much more fun to write with a partner than to sit in a room by yourself all day. It’s tough to find a partner and a lot of times I think that people try to do it with friends, but that doesn’t really work. I think it’s more important that you see film or television the same way, of a similar worldview, similar sense of humor and so we weren’t really friends. We just liked each other’s work. We’ve obviously kind of become friends over the years.
Rhys Thomas: Kind of became friends? [Laughs]
Brian Gatewood: [Laughs] We’re very different people. And if he were hear he would tell you that also. But we have a mutual respect for each other and we’ve had a great (probably) almost 12 years or a decade plus at least writing career together. So it’s been great. (Watch the Youtube video here).
How I Became A Director On Saturday Night Live by Rhys Thomas
Film Courage: Rhys, I’m wondering if we can talk a little bit about life before Comrade Detective? When you were starting out in the entertainment industry, what was your strategy? Did you even have a strategy? Did you end up here accidentally?
Rhys Thomas: Yeah…I wouldn’t say there was a strategy, at least I didn’t know of one. Where I grew up was about as far from the film industry as could be. Well, not as could be. I’m sure I could have grown up in Siberia, too. But I grew up in a small village in South Wales and really had zero idea of how you might penetrate the film industry or television. And it was sort of just through luck…I mean, I think me taking some risks and some gambles and some happy accidents that I sort of found my way eventually to SNL. There is sort of a long story in between obviously. Essentially I came to New York knowing that I wanted to work in Film and Television, I had no idea what to do. New York seemed like the direction. To head to LA felt like too much of a cultural leap at the time (watch the video on Youtube here).
Synopsis: In the 1980s, millions of Romanians tuned in to Comrade Detective, a gritty and sleek buddy cop show that not only entertained its citizens but also promoted Communist ideals and inspired a deep nationalism. It has now been digitally remastered and dubbed into English for the first time by a cast featuring Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon Levitt.
Director and Co-Executive Producer: Rhys Thomas
Stars: Channing Tatum, Florin Piersic Jr., Joseph Gordon-Levitt and many more
WATCH COMRADE DETECTIVE
CONNECT WITH BRIAN GATEWOOD
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