Why the Melrose lot? The Wind River director says it was about “the freedom. Complete creative freedom…I told them my vision on how I wanted to make it and they agreed to it, if there was a television model to follow.”
Similar to Sam Esmail on USA’s Mr. Robot, Sheridan writes and directs all 10 episodes of Yellowstone. “I don’t recommend it,” said Sheridan on the challenges associated with a long-form series.
In keeping with the cinematic nature of the new Paramount Network, the series which stars Kevin Costner as a huge ranch owner bumping up against land developers, a Native American reservation and America’s first National Park, was shot entirely on location in Utah and Montana. “In this beautiful place, there’s still politics,” said Costner.
However, after mounting a very personal feature directorial debut Wind River, Yellowstone was pure bliss for Sheridan.
“Wind River was a real challenge in every way, the opposite of what Yellowstone was. We had no money, no time and I was trying to find my voice as a filmmaker,” said Sheridan, “With Yellowstone I had time and money. I was able to see a vision through without those restrictions.”
Following Wind River‘s shining premiere at Sundance a year ago, Sheridan won best director in a Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival. The pic also fared well at the specialty box office earning close to $34M.
However, when the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal hit in October, it proved a challenge for Wind River. Here was a serious movie that examined the rape of a Native American young woman on a Wyoming Native American reservation associated a tarnished movie mogul. As reported exclusively by Deadline, a deal was completed in late October to excise all mention of Weinstein both on the pic’s home video release through Lionsgate and streaming release through Netflix, and also on awards-season screeners. An awards campaign would be fully funded by the film’s principal financier Acacia Entertainment, an entity backed by the Tunica-Biloxi tribes, who put up a majority of the under $10 million budget to make the film.
“The year has been a busy one, and it has been hard. The opportunity to tell stories is what matters to me,” said Sheridan this morning at TCA.
When the news about Harvey Weinstein hit, Paramount Network too excised all mention of the Weinstein Co. on Yellowstone. Until a new company resurfaced under new ownership, would they then consider giving credit. When asked by the press today at TCA, what percentage of dollars that the Weinstein Co. invested in both Yellowstone and Waco, Kay said, “I’m not going to talk about money. That’s confidential information, we’ll figure all of that out.”
Said Paramount Network president Kevin Kay during an executive session, “There are hundreds of people who worked on both on Waco and Yellowstone (above and below the line production staffs) and these people shouldn’t be penalized for what went on there (with Harvey Weinstein). That has nothing to do with them and we wanted a safe workplace. Nobody wants to be associated with the things that went on there.”
Keith Cox, president, development and production, Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT equated Yellowstone in its gravitas and “muscular storytelling” to HBO’s Sopranos.
Yellowstone airs on Wednesday, June 20, at 9 PM ET/PT.