We sit down with the LGBTQ film­maker and BAFTA win­ner to dis­cuss his crit­i­cally ac­claimed work.

Gay Times Magazine - - Ryan J Brown - Pho­tog­ra­phy Bogdan Sarachev Words Elly Wat­son

“I re­mem­ber buy­ing the Harry En­field and Chums script when I was 10 and read­ing it re­li­giously - which look­ing back was crazy in­ap­pro­pri­ate!” Ryan J Brown laughs. This is how the 26-year-old writer first dis­cov­ered his love of screen­writ­ing. Grow­ing up in Scun­thorpe, he’s al­ways been a self-con­fessed TV and film buff, mak­ing “shit home movies with lit­er­ally any­one I could force to be in them”, but never really thought about mak­ing a living from screen­writ­ing un­til last year, when he won the BAFTA New Writ­ing prize and was a fi­nal­ist of the ‘Write to Green­light’ Green Door and Lion­s­gate UK TV Com­pe­ti­tion.

“The BAFTA comp was life chang­ing, it has opened up so many doors and con­tin­ues to do so,” he gushes. “The Green Door one was run by Idris Elba who is a ma­chine, he’s so busy but makes time for nur­tur­ing new tal­ent which is rare. I’m thank­ful these ini­tia­tives ex­ist as I don’t think many young writ­ers would break through.”

Win­ning with his LGBTQ crime drama We Are Your Chil­dren, the thriller fol­lows the story of San Fran­cisco’s “Doodler” se­rial killer and has been de­scribed as “a kind of True De­tec­tive meets Paris is Burn­ing”, a de­scrip­tion Brown says he’ll “hap­pily take”. “We Are Your Chil­dren is a thriller in­spired by true events,” he tells me. “It’s about a fe­male de­tec­tive, a gay ac­tivist and a Drag Queen unit­ing to stop a se­rial killer in 1970’s San Fran­cisco. It gives an in­sight into the LGBTQ com­mu­nity’s in­volve­ment in some of the worst un­solved se­rial mur­ders com­mit­ted. A killer in the mid 70’s in San Fran­cisco se­duced and killed at least 14 gay men (and prob­a­bly a lot more) and got away with it. The prej­u­diced po­lice and press weren’t in­ter­ested, it was barely re­ported. The guy was even­tu­ally caught but the sur­vivors were scared of be­ing outed and re­fused to tes­tify, so he was let go and he re­mains free! The whole story is so tragic and even more so that no­body has heard of it. I was in­censed and felt like I had to do some­thing. It ex­plores the re­la­tion­ship between fear and de­sire, tol­er­ance and ac­cep­tance. It’s a really strangerthan-fic­tion tale but it’s also so rel­e­vant.”

With the main char­ac­ters all mem­bers of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity, I ask Brown what draws him to­wards writ­ing about these char­ac­ters. “They say write what you know!” He replies. “The char­ac­ters I find most in­ter­est­ing are those living in the mar­gins of so­ci­ety, as some­one from within those mar­gins I en­joy giv­ing a voice to a sec­tion of so­ci­ety that rarely gets one. The char­ac­ters I wish I’d seen more of when I was a kid. There’s loads of work still to be done in mak­ing Bri­tish TV di­verse. I’m ex­per­i­ment­ing and still work­ing out what works, whether it’s a 40+, crime fight­ing, fe­ro­ciously un­apolo­getic drag queen or a young guy suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sions whose sex­u­al­ity is the 5th most im­por­tant thing about him.”

Now work­ing on a new “sad­com” called I’m Still Here - a Robin Williams in­spired show fol­low­ing a young, work­ing class, gay man called Joe and his ex­pe­ri­ence with de­pres­sion - Brown is fur­ther es­tab­lish­ing him­self as an ex­cit­ing new writer and voice for the LGBTQ com­mu­nity. I ask him what his next big project is, but Brown can’t give much away. “I hate peo­ple post­ing those overly vague, at­ten­tion seek­ing ‘Watch this space. Big things hap­pen­ing, hun’ posts on so­cial me­dia. But now I’m start­ing to get their am­bi­gu­ity as I have a few really cool com­mis­sions I’m work­ing on that I’m un­able to say any­thing about. I re­cently fin­ished work­ing on a new BBC3 com­edy and I’ve got a hor­ror pi­lot (some­thing I’d really like to crack on Bri­tish TV) that’s been mak­ing waves, it’s a fi­nal­ist in an­other drama com­pe­ti­tion next week, so fingers crossed.” He pauses. “I’m also cur­rently try­ing to raise my puppy sausage dog to be more hum­ble…”

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