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Recently we had a chance to take part in a Q&A session with visionary filmmaker Robert Rodriguez about bringing a new version of his much beloved film From Dusk Till Down to the El Rey Network! Read on for thoughts from the man himself.
“I was looking forward to the challenge of it,” says Rodriguez of the series. “I thought about doing it. Someone had asked about it even before the network, and I said, ‘No, Quentin and I control the rights to it. We really wouldn’t want to do it for television unless, you know, at least one of us was heavily involved,’ and I didn’t see myself getting into television at that time.”
“But then I thought of a way to do it. This whole season takes place from dusk till dawn, and we kind of retold the original Quentin story with the Gecko brothers and Santanico. When I first read the film script, it didn’t really take Mexico into account, and I added that into the original movie… things that I researched on my end… Aztec cultures and mythologies, etc. I found a blood cult that worships snakes, and I included that in the film. The last shot of the pyramid sort of hinted a larger mythology.”
“I always thought that was a cool idea that we didn’t get to explore further in the film because it just wasn’t written that way. I left it there just to kind of, you know, tickle people’s imagination about what it could be. Now years and years later when I got involved in the El Rey Network, I thought that would be a great first show to do. A known title to lead people to the network to show them what the network was about, while also having a chance to go re-explore some of those ideas I had researched way back in the first film and expand Quentin’s story to include new characters, new trajectories and story lines for the original characters, and really build that mythology up more with the Santanico cult so that we could follow with more seasons later on.”
“The challenge was finding a good new writing team. I would write the original script to the first episode to show how it would be expanded so that they could emulate that style for other episodes. It was just a lot of fun. I mean, Quentin writes the best characters, so to take those characters and expand on them and see where else they could have gone or come from was really, really exciting and fun to work with. I think that what drew a lot of our cast in as well was just getting the chance to play Quentin Tarantino characters in a television series.”
So how did Rodriguez prep for a return to this vampire-infested world?
“I went back into my old archives, found original artwork I had done back at the time, original drawings I’d forgotten about, dug up all my own notes, dug up old versions of the script. Found a bunch of handwritten script pages that Quentin had written that we never shot. You know, it was kind of really awesome to go back into the archives and unearth some of the stuff we had done back then that never made it into the film and dig into it and adopt it for this new version. So it’s kind of cool going back.”
“The other thing that really hit me was when I was on the bar set, which was a recreation of the original bar. That was like a time machine. There were several people in my crew that also worked on the original Dusk Till Dawn, and it really felt like we had gone back in time. It was quite a jolt to be there again, doing it again in a different way, bringing all the experience that we’ve had since the first film in all these years and bringing that to enhance this new experience. It was pretty amazing. Most people don’t get that experience in their careers.”
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