Vince Gilligan Reveals How He Shot the Top Secret 'Breaking Bad' Movie
You can learn a ton about how Vince Gilligan pulled off this top-secret movie.
Breaking Bad was a big deal. It still is.
Before it became one of the greatest television shows ever made, it was this "little engine that could" on AMC in its first season. It was also the first show to benefit from a boost in viewership thanks to rewatches on Netflix. For a show that went from little-watched to bonafide classic, it is nothing short of a miracle that Vince Gilligan and Aaron Paul managed to shoot El Camino, their top secret Breaking Bad movie, virtually undetected and without leaks. That kind of anonymity is unheard of for a title as popular and renown as a sequel chronicling Jesse's post-Breaking Bad series finale life. So how did they pull it off?
The Hollywood Reporter has a fascinating interview with Gilligan and Paul, their first since the movie was announced, regarding their shooting process and how the creative came together for this much-anticipated movie, which is slated for a limited theatrical release in select cities starting Oct. 11. Key steps Gilligan and his producers took to keep the project under wraps included "waiting until the last possible minute to share the script with crew, obscuring locations with trucks and screens, and relying on a private jet to shuttle a key cast member in and out of Albuquerque without notice." (That key cast member has to be Cranston, right?)
At a time where social media and smart phones make it very difficult for filmmakers to preserve their projects for the theatrical experience, Gilligan and company somehow pulled it off -- and you can learn a lot from the lengths they went to ensure that their vision for El Camino remain a surprise for fans. (As Gilligan tells THR about his covert production, "I don't want to open my Christmas presents a week and a half before Christmas.")
Last time we saw Jesse, he was broken-not-sprained and racing away in an El Camino from indentured servitude as chief meth cook for a bunch of murderous white supremacists. He also left a dying Walter White (Bryan Cranston) literally in his dust. That ending was as good as it gets in the world of hit-or-miss series finales, so why put a hat on a hat and risk tainting such a definitive achievement? The answer to that question, and the potential for disappointment, was not lost on Gilligan.
"I'm hoping when the movie comes out, people won't say, 'Oh, man, this guy should've left well enough alone,' " Gilligan said. "Why did George Foreman keep coming out of retirement, you know?"
In 2018, Gilligan started shooting the two-hour El Camino -- he wrote and directed it over the past 18 months. (Post-production is completed on the film.) A trailer, launching during the Emmys on Sept. 22, will give fans a more in-depth look at the final product, which Gilligan started having ideas for before the series wrapped.
"I didn't really tell anybody about it, because I wasn't sure I would ever do anything with it," he told THR. "But I started thinking to myself, 'What happened to Jesse?' You see him driving away. And to my mind, he went off to a happy ending. But as the years progressed, I thought, 'What did that ending — let's just call it an ending, neither happy, nor sad — what did it look like?' " It was while planning events surrounding the 10th anniversary of Breaking Bad in 2018 that the writer-director revealed his ideas to his inner circle. At first, the plan was to reunion tour with Jesse in a five-minute short film. But, as his longtime producer Melissa Bernstein recalled, "he just started letting his mind run over that. And he started to realize, 'I have a lot to say about this.' "
El Camino will feature more than ten familiar characters from the series. In addition to Jesse, the only two Gilligan would reveal were fan favorites Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) and Badger (Matt L. Jones).
The film is another of Netflix's theatrical window experiments; it will premiere on the service and in theaters on Oct. 11 before airing on AMC in 2021. If any property can make this unique release pattern worthwhile, it's the story of Jesse and Walter.