Q&A: Dwight Little on the Season Finale of “FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES”.
Robert Rodriguez has spared no expense in maintaining the cinematic scale of the El Rey Network’s first scripted original series, employing the likes of Eduardo Sanchez, Fede Alvarez and Greg Nicotero to help bring the rich world of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES to life. Yet for the final episode of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN’s first season, Robert Rodriguez needed a very unique breed of filmmaker; one who is not only experienced in horror, but also action and television. Unsurprisingly, Rodriguez turned to Episode 6 and HALLOWEEN 4 helmer Dwight Little with the responsibility of closing the curtain on the first season. Little spoke with FANGORIA about entering the world of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN and having freedom on a very unique production…
FANGORIA: What attracted you to come aboard FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES?
DWIGHT LITTLE: I do have an interesting history with HALLOWEEN 4 and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in doing some horror work, but the direct connection was that I had done work on a show called NIKITA and the showrunner, Juan Carlos Coto, brought me on board to FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. From there, he introduced me to Robert [Rodriguez] and his team down in Austin.
FANG: One interesting aspect about the series is that Robert has been employing both horror directors and action directors for the series, which respectively balanced both. Did you find your action experience benefit your direction on the finale?
LITTLE: I did! That’s very interesting because the stunt coordinator for the series was the coordinator on MARKED FOR DEATH, so we had a long history together. We did work with “tramps”- meaning trampolines- and we did a lot of fight choreography. Those were things that really do require some helpful action experience since you’re shooting on a television schedule but you want to give the show a feature look.
FANG: Was it also helpful that, at this point, the cast had worked together for ten episodes and have gotten past the fanboy stigma of the initial expectations?
LITTLE: Well, I had the advantage of also having done Episode 6, “Place of Dead Roads,” when the Fullers and Gecko Brothers arrive a the Titty Twister for the first time. By the time I worked on the finale, I had the advantage of having a working relationship with the Gecko Brothers and the Fullers. I knew everybody already, so I didn’t have to spend anytime getting to know anyone. So we rolled up our sleeves and dug into the episode, since the finale was very complex and it tied a lot of storylines together.
FANG: Were you familiar with the original film before coming on board? If so, did that serve as inspiration at all or did you try to steer your episodes away from the source material?
LITTLE: I was very familiar with FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, though I had to freshen up on it since it’s been a few years since I’ve seen it. In the film, I loved the first half where it’s the journey to get to the Titty Twister and the Americana of all of it. But once they got into the Titty Twister, I loved the music and the band, and then, all vampire hell breaks loose! I love how they’ve expanded the series to give these characters longer build-ups. I like how they’ve built the Gecko Brothers’ relationship together, even before they met the Fullers. The story has been very rich and atmospheric, I think.
FANG: The finale has a lot of layers to it, with many subplots going into many diverse and unpredictable places. Were you surprised about how much ground you would have to cover?
LITTLE: I was, but because I was able to do Episode 6, I knew what they were trying to go for with the series. I knew the episode would be big from all of the locations and the moves. I think we were able to bring that whole storyline together in a way that completed them, and that frees the survivors to go into whatever direction they will. I knew the finale wasn’t going to have any big moments, like the ones with Santanico dancing and all of that. Instead, the episode is very intimate, and there’s a big scene with Madison [Davenport] and Robert Patrick that really caught my attention.
FANG: Do you think directing the finale was a little more dramatic for the actors, considering it’s their final episode shot together for quite some time and some have their fates left in the air?
LITTLE: When I got on the set, I realized DJ Cotrona and Zane Holtz had an amazing personal chemistry. They protect each other as actors, in a way, but they also horse around in a certain way as well. I think they act like brothers, even though they didn’t know each other before the series started. They’re very in sync with each other and that really played into being the Gecko Brothers. Since they’ve worked together for 10 episodes, that’s really helpful to string up that emotion. The same goes for the Fuller Family. They’ve bonded with one another, and that affection paid off for the finale.
FANG: Was Robert Rodriguez more hands-on as a producer with the finale as opposed to Episode 6?
LITTLE: For Episode 6, I had to set everything up for Robert because he was directing Episode 7. So I did consult with him a good deal on that episode, because I needed to leave everything exactly where it needed to be for Santanico’s dance. For Episode 10, I talked to Robert about where things would end up and what he saw with these characters, but he has another show for El Rey called MATADOR so he was very busy directing the pilot for that. So I had some guidance from him but then he went off and let me shoot it.
FANG: Would you come back to direct again next season following your two episodes on the show?
LITTLE: Oh yeah! It’d be a pleasure to come back. I had such a great experience and creatively, it’s very unique. In television, normally there’s many layers of executives that we call “gatekeepers,” but Robert is a writer, producer, director and the El Rey Network. So creatively, it’s very liberating because you’re only talking to one person. From the look and feel of the show, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES plays like a long indie feature to me than episodic television.
FANG: Do you have any other projects currently in the works?
LITTLE: I’m also doing an episode of MATADOR for Robert and the El Rey Network. Then, I’m going to do a couple episodes of SLEEPY HOLLOW, which is another one I’m anxious to get involved with because that has a very interesting story as well.
You can see the Dwight Little-helmed series finale of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES, “The Take,” on the El Rey Network tonight, May 20th, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.