Q: What will you talk about at MOCAD here in Detroit?
A: I’m focusing on the process of how Narcos first came about and what the process is like, episode to episode. A little bit behind the scenes of the scripting, producing, and editing process. Hopefully I can give people an insight — a little glimpse behind the curtain.
With Narcos, back when we started, had the director, José Padilha, not insisted that it be made in Colombia, I don’t think there would be a third season. The director is Brazilian, and he insisted it all be shot in Colombia for authenticity, and he was absolutely right. That’s one of a thousand decisions that we made, but it was essential.
We also get a lot of Latin American directors, and I think it’s better for them to be in Colombia. The crew is from here — some from Mexico and Brazil — and all that gives it authenticity. There’s a lot of people who know the story, who live the story. Those things all help.
Q: You’ve written a variety of things, like action, horror, and a video game adaptation. Can you describe the approaches that you took to writing those and the complex storyline that you’re writing for Narcos?
A: Usually the big distinction with television is that it’s not closed-ended — it’s this endless, ongoing story. What allowed us to do Narcos is we pitched it as a 20-hour movie. We always approach a season of Narcos as one long movie.
In a film, there’s such a relentless need for building tension. You have a captive audience that’s there for two hours; you don’t want them looking at their watches or wanting to leave. And that’s a totally different structure than an audience that’s choosing to pick up the remote, pick Narcos, and watch it. That’s more of a novel versus a short story, almost.