Celebrity Interview: Greg Garcia, Writer, Director, of Freevee’s Sprung Talks on Making the Series

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Sprung, from Amazon's Freevee, written and directed by Greg Garcia, tells the story, across nine-episodes of an unlikely group of formerly incarcerated people who received early pandemic release, and decide to use their criminal expertise for good.

 

Having the opportunity to speak with Sprung, writer and director Greg Garcia, on making the series, the casting, shooting in Pittsburgh and the differences of working with a streamer. Below is our interview.

Janet Walker: So, Sprung, looks like it's a very comical cake on this on an unusual pandemic story so tell me about how the whole idea of the story came about?


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Greg Garcia: Yeah, well I'd had a vague notion of an idea about somebody getting released from prison, then when the pandemic hit, and I saw that they were releasing people early because of the virus I thought this might be a good opportunity to take that idea and run with it and really expand on it. I was very interested in doing something timely and this was obviously an event that was affecting everybody in the world. I wasn't very interested in doing like a show about people stuck at home, or you know Zoom office place, or anything like that. I wanted people to have the relatability of the pandemic and seeing some things they recognized, especially early in the pandemic, but see it through the eyes of some people that we're experiencing things that the general public wasn't experiencing sounds.

Janet Walker: Sounds good. Interesting. I understand it all starts with a good script. So why don't you tell me a bit about your writing process?

Greg Garcia: The way I write is I usually just get the notion of an idea and I sit down, and I start hammering things out. Sometimes I'll start with characters and just start fleshing out the characters other times I'll does do story beats. I mean, I just sit down and shotgun as much stuff as I possibly can. In between that I'm doing a lot of thinking, doing a lot of bike riding, and walking and thinking and making notes to myself and then once I have a combination of things in my head, and on the page, that I feel like might be worthy of actually starting to write dialogue I sit down, and I write the script. Then I write a very terrible first version of a script and I share it with friends, and they tell me what's good, what's not good, what's confusing, what makes sense and then I'll do a rewrite from there.

Janet Walker: Interesting. So, describe the pitch meeting for Sprung?

Greg Garcia: There wasn't really pitch meeting for Sprung. What I did was I wrote the script and then we sent the script out to but different places. One that was interested was then called IMBDTV, now called Freevee. So, we, I think, we just had a discussion on the phone about it or no, maybe we hopped on an Amazon chime and did a video chat and I probably told them where I thought the show was going. I don't really remember too much, to be honest with you. But then the deal was that I was going to write more scripts. I wasn't really interested in shooting a pilot; I wanted to go straight to series with this if possible, so I wrote some more scripts; they read those scripts; they liked where I was going with it and the deal was struck to do 10 episodes.

Janet Walker: Very nice. So, tell me about the casting process, were you involved?


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Greg Garcia: Oh yeah, I'm involved in everything I'm a control freak. There's nothing I'm not heavily involved in. So, Garrett Dillahunt, the lead, was somebody that I wrote it for, so I knew from the beginning that was my guy there and a Freevee was excited about him being in the show as well. So that was easy and got done quickly. And Garrett's also an executive producer on the show.

Then from there we just started having auditions and you know these days it's all done on video so it's no in person stuff and that's always a little strange. I preferred audition in person, but you have to deal with what the situation gives you. So yeah, we just started seeing people and just picking our selects and people we like and then we would go over them with Freevee and we were all on the same page and we got a fantastic cast.

Janet Walker: Sounds good. So, have you been renewed for a second season?

Greg Garcia: There's been no discussion of that yet. I mean we have to air and then we have to see if there's more stories to tell with these people.

Janet Walker: Sure, any thoughts where your characters may go if it goes further?

Greg Garcia: Not a clue.

Janet Walker: Really? Interesting. So, what surprised you most about making this project?

Greg Garcia: What's surprised me most? I can't say. I've been doing this long enough that I can't say that there were a lot of surprises. There were things that I enjoyed that I'd never done before. I shot outside of Los Angeles. All my shows I've always shot in Los Angeles, this one we shot in Pittsburgh. So, I was very happy with the aesthetics that we got shooting outside of Los Angeles, so that was a treat. I worked with a lot of new people because a lot of the crew was local. So, sometimes you get nervous working with new people that you don't have that comfort zone right away, but things worked out great and we shot a great show.


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We met a lot of great people. The other thing that was new for me is working with a streamer after having worked on networks. There's a very tight window of how long a show can be; it's 20 minutes or 21 minutes long. So you can only tell so much story and you can only do so much. But with the streamer you don't have those time restraints. So, we have episodes that are, you know 36, 37, 40 minutes long and so that was a treat. I mean it's a challenge because you don't have, production wise double the time, to shoot it but a lot of times you're shooting double the show, but we managed and that was probably one of my favorite things about doing this show is the fact that we had that latitude.

Janet Walker: Sounds great. So, what was your most memorable moment from the entire process?

Greg Garcia: The most memorable moment from the entire process? I would say after 61 days of directing every single day, finishing, being done. Then knowing that you're heading to editing with a lot of great stuff you shot and that you're going to be able to just kind of relax and sit back and now put it all together. My most memorable moment is yelling "cut" for the last time.

Janet Walker: Interesting you said you shot for 61 days. Did you shoot 61 days straight?

Greg Garcia: Yeah, we even shot a couple Saturdays because we had to catch up on a couple things and we were worried about weather starting to catch up with us. So yeah, we shot it like a movie not like a TV show where we crossed boarded the entire thing. So, we could be shooting on the first day things from episode 1, 4, and 10. It didn't matter. It's just what made sense with the schedule and the locations to shoot.

Janet Walker: Sure. Sounds like it. So, what's next for you?

Greg Garcia: Sit back and watch Sprung on Freevee.

Janet Walker: Any new projects in the works? Any brilliant ideas coming up?


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Greg Garcia: Well, there's always ideas coming up and then it's up to a lot of other people besides me to say if they're brilliant or not. But yeah, I've always got a stack of ideas that I'm anxious to go try to sell and produce. So, we'll just have to see what happens. Relaxing is also a very tempting thing to do as well.

Janet Walker: Yes. It is. Well Greg, thank you so much. Sprung looks great. Congratulations on the series and best of luck to you.

Greg Garcia: Thank you very much. Thanks for talking with me today.

Janet Walker: You're welcome. Have a great day.

More about Sprung follows Jack (Garrett Dillahunt), a convicted criminal who is determined to turn his life around after serving more than two decades in prison. When he is unexpectedly released due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly realizes he has no place to live. Jack shelters-in-place with former cellmate, Rooster (Phillip Garcia), Rooster's mom (Martha Plimpton) and Jack's former prison girlfriend, Gloria (Shakira Barrera). Their marred pasts and unusual living circumstances create a bond between them all, and they decide to start righting some of society's wrongs that arise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sprung premieres on Freevee August 19, 2022. Stream it.

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