Director Cary Fukunaga: ‘True Detective’ Was Almost Titled ‘The Murder Ballads’

This seems to have somehow flown under the radar, but a few days ago Vanity Fair published an interview with True Detective director Cary Fukunaga that contained some interesting tidbits about the show, including more about how that long tracking shot from a couple of weeks back was pulled off.

I had a vague mapping of what I wanted to do for that sequence. But it took awhile to get to the actual housing project where we filmed, just because there was so much red tape to get permits. Once we got to the houses, we were able to copy the interior and create a really simple version on what of our sets—where we ate lunch and stored all of our props and furniture—we dug out a corner of that room and built the interior of that house so we could figure how that would work and we were able to rehearse that a lot. But the neighborhood itself, we didn’t get access to until about a weekend or two before. I went through there with the first A.D. and the stunt coordinator. We did a bunch of runs to figure out what the path would be. We had a day and a half to rehearse while we were shooting so there was not much preparation.

Additionally, Fukunaga talked about blowing off our pal Charles Halford’s character’s head…

What about the actual murders of Ledoux and DeWall? Had you always planned on showing them onscreen in all of their gruesome glory?

I didn’t actually plan on shooting Ledoux’s head getting blown up [when Hart shoots him]. [B]ut it seemed like [viewers] wanted to see this guy, this awful human being, taken down. Same thing with his cousin, who is blown up with the “Bouncing Betty.” I get tired of watching movies where you see a landmine and it seems really fake. So a “Bouncing Betty” seemed like something that hadn’t been done before. We actually constructed basically copies of [the landmines] . . . they would not blow up but they would spring up.

And what goes into making a guy’s head explode on camera?

It’s a mixture of the actor doing the action, a whole bunch of blood and brains, and then a little bit of painting of skull fragments. And someone created the prosthetic brain by hand. I wanted a skull fragment that felt like a swinging door, like a shutter, still on his head. That was pretty awesome too.

In the same Vanity Fair interview Fukunaga details that the show was almost titled The Murder Ballads

Lastly, I read that you thought the title True Detective was “too pulpy” for the series. What were some of the other titles you guys bounced around?

I think Nic and I both liked this one version called The Murder Ballads, but he was more in love with True Detective in terms of the broadness of the anthology. Since we were creating a brand, as much as we were creating a title for this series, we had to go more broad. Titles are tough. It’s hard to find something that everyone likes. We spent hours trying to do just that.

Go read the whole thing here.