Kurt Sutter 160MC Research

Kurt Sutter is an American screen writer, director, producer and actor; probably best known for being the creator, writer, director and producer of hit US TV series Sons of Anarchy.

Sons of Anarchy is my favourite TV series, predominantly because of the strong characterization. All of the characters are so deep and believable that I feel I know them personally (perhaps I’m just slightly obsessive). Its one of, if not the best written TV shows I have ever seen. Previously, I’ve found TV shows that I have become addicted to usually begin to go down the pan after perhaps the third series. Sons of Anarchy is in its fifth and I’m still completely hooked.

One thing I’ve noticed about the show is the depth of detail in the characters. Every day the crew go to painstaking lengths to put on scars, wounds and tattoos that the audience hardly see, but that say a lot about the characters. The most interesting for me is the character of Gemma who has a scar on her chest, where she has previously had heart surgery. The heart surgery is only ever relevant to the story in one or two episodes in season 3, yet still they have applied this fake scar every day of filming since the start of season one. There’s also a video showing the length they go to when applying the make-up before a shoot:

The thing that stands out the most to me is the fact that very few new characters are introduced, and when they are, they’re introduced slowly; so at all times you feel like you know the characters well. This can’t be said for many long running television series’, who seem to turnover characters at the drop of a hat. Obviously the characterizations are helped in part by the fantastic cast of actors, but its clear when watching that they are so well planned and thought out; he obviously knows his characters well.
The level of research undertaken in order to write and create the show is reflected, because never is the story line tenuous, and there are never any “holes”.

I wanted to research an industry practitioner who is talented at creating believable characters to help with the 160MC task, because one thing I find difficult is creating a character I can fully invest in. I don’t think I’ve ever created a character who I have truly “known”. In this interview http://collider.com/sons-of-anarchy-season-5-kurt-sutter-interview/198479/ Sutter talks a bit about writing the stories for the fifth season. He talks about killing off one of the main characters “Opie”, which sparked a lot of controversy among fans of the show. I find it interesting how he talks about the characters as if he knows them personally, and this is something I want to be able to do when creating a character. One thing he did when writing the show was spend time with The Hell’s Angels to research motorcycle club behaviour, and the relationships between club members so he had an idea of what kind of characters to create.

Researching Kurt Sutter has helped me think about how to create convincing characters, and more importantly what makes a character convincing. I chose to research Kurt Sutter because Sons of Anarchy is a show I watch regularly, so as I’ve been watching series five I have been able to think about the characters and the methods behind creating them. Subscribing to Sutter’s Youtube account, I have seen some behind the scenes videos that have aided my research. In one video that was particularly useful for this task, they talk about what they think one of the lesser known characters does in his spare time, and do a mini character study on him;


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