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5 minutes with writer and producer Michael D. Fuller

For writer and producer Michael D. Fuller, Southern literature, music and art is in his blood. He was born in Columbia and grew up in Lexington.
For writer and producer Michael D. Fuller, Southern literature, music and art is in his blood. He was born in Columbia and grew up in Lexington. Submitted

About two years ago I came across a show on Cinemax called, “Quarry.” It was part period piece (taking place in the South in the 1970s), part crime and drama. It quickly becoming one of my favorite shows in the last decade.

“Quarry” became more of a favorite after I realized one of the creators and writers, Michael D. Fuller, was from Columbia.

Television is in a new Golden Age and fans are lucky to have someone like him at the helm.

Q. For the people that don’t know you, tell us a little about what you do?

A. I’m a writer and producer for film and television, which is a fancy way of saying that I get to sit in a room most days with insanely talented writers and make stuff up that we then turn into scripts that we then go out and turn into a television show.

I’ve been fortunate to work on some great series. I co-created and executive produced the Cinemax series, “Quarry,” and wrote for Sundance Channel’s “Rectify” and USA’s “Damnation.” I also played Zombie Khloe Kardashian when I worked on “The Soup” on E!, but that probably requires at least five more minutes to rightfully explain.

Q. With shows like “Quarry,” was there an intentional approach to work on a show with a Southern backdrop?

A. Absolutely. I was born in Columbia and grew up in Lexington. My wife is from Irmo. Southern literature, music, and art has always resonated with me on a cellular level. It’s in my blood. Specifically on “Quarry,” my writing partner Graham Gordy is from Arkansas, so telling a story set in the South was very important to us both. “Write what you know” is a cliche for a reason: it’s true.

Q. As someone that’s involved in television, what do you think Hollywood and TV get wrong when it comes to the South?

A. Where to begin? I’m fiercely protective of the way the South is depicted. The accents, the broad caricatures, the accents. There’s a texture and an authenticity to the South that is singular in this country. It’s a colorful, complicated, complex and diverse place, but the vast majority of depictions of the region tend to only focus on the negative stereotypes and are either oblivious to or completely ignore the spirit and feel of it. Most tend to overlook the humanity of the people, which is the key to understanding what makes the place tick. Mostly though, it’s the accents.

Q. Steven Speilberg recently made a case for the Academy to not allow films on Netflix to be nominated for an Oscar. How do you feel about that sentiment

A. Obviously Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. The innovations he made in filmmaking forever changed the way stories are told. I also think it’s vital to preserve the theater-going experience, which is a big part of his argument against the Netflix model.

That said, things change. The way we experience the stories themselves has evolved and Netflix has been a key innovator in that regard. They’re also incredibly supportive of talent and make and buy films that a lot of other studios won’t. So I wish that an all-time innovator like Spielberg could find a way to embrace the revolution instead of fighting it.

Q. Along those same lines, how do you feel about how the public consumes music and films now?

A. I am somewhat concerned about the preservation and accessibility of film history. Streaming music services actually do a great job of cultivating and preserving the public’s access to music from all eras, but film sites still have a long way to go to make sure a lot of great films aren’t lost to history. The recent demise of FilmStruck really hurt, but hopefully the upcoming Criterion Channel will help.

Q. What’s next for you?

A. Besides waiting patently for the call to play Zombie Khloe Kardashian again? I just finished working on “Locke & Key” for Netflix, which is based on the comic book series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez and produced by Carlton Cuse of “Lost” and “Jack Ryan” fame. It’s currently in production and should air in early 2020.

And I’m pitching two new projects in the next month or so, gearing up to shoot a short film this summer, developing some other shows, and trying and mostly failing to keep up with my two year old daughter.

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