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Banshee - Greg Yaitanes Interview

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Greg Yaitanes answers fans questions about characters, inspirations, the importance of social media and more. The interview contains hints of what’s coming up, but no big spoilers past episode 2.06, Armies of One.

Spoiler TV: One of the things I love about the show is the way material is edited, either to give an insight to what a character is thinking, rather than what they are doing (Carrie hugging Hood outside the prison in Unicorn) or to heighten the emotional impact (the finding of Solomon cut with the flashback of the murder/kidnap). Are these edits rigidly set out in the writing process, or do some occur during filming or in the editing process itself?
Greg: It's a mix. The Solomon flashbacks to the murder were scripted. In episode 5, the hugging and other images of Carrie running toward the house were invented by [director] Babak Najafi. The Carrie and Siobhan intercut during the fight scene was scripted, but the earlier scene where Breece was bringing flowers and Carrie was talking to Deva was scripted as stand-alone scenes. Our editors and directors find opportunities to do this where it will enhance the emotional impact of the episode.

Spoiler TV: How strictly do you stick to the script, can the cast adlib on the day or do you get any inspiration from the antics on set at all?
Greg: We stay on script. We have to. There are too many moving parts to ad-lib. Plus, everyone trusts our writing, from the directors to the cast. Any notes or thoughts have been given to the writers well in advance of shooting. The directors sit with key cast from the episode and go through the scenes on the weekends so the most time can be spent on set shooting.

Spoiler TV: Some of the stunt work this year has been fantastic, especially the car chases...the van heist and the fight between Hood, Quentin and the truck at the end of episode 6 being particular stand outs. What are the different challenges these pose compared to the more traditional fist/gun fights?
Greg: Time. The truck heist took three days to shoot. Most fights take about half a day - maybe a little more. In general, our show is a hands-on show, and we prefer a great battle of the fists over big action set pieces. To put it into perspective, the truck heist lasts maybe 2 minutes of screen time, and it took 15% of our schedule to get that sequence. While cool, I love some of the fight scenes you're about to see in the back half of the season even more.

Sharon: Can you take us through a little of the creative process when you started planning S2. For example did you have an endpoint for the Season 2 Finale and then wrote the story towards that point, or did the endpoint happen organically as you wrote the season?
Greg: Creator Jonathan Tropper and I start planning the next season about mid-season of shooting. We see what is working and what would be cool to do. Tropper has banshee planned to its (hopefully) season 5 conclusion. Along the way, we take some very cool detours to explore great characters. In the case of season 2, we knew some things we wanted to hit. The Banshee Origins iBook (between season 1 and 2) is key to understanding what's is Once you get to the end of this season, you'll see our master plan and exactly what's in store for season 3.

Sharon: Would love to know what current shows you admire and enjoy as well as some of the shows which have now ended that you enjoyed? And which of these, if any, you have drawn inspiration from?
Greg: Banshee is completely original to TV. Any inspiration comes from cinema. As far as shows I like to watch…Sherlock, True Detective, The Walking Dead, The Returned, Broadchurch and Mad Men, to name a few.

Sharon: Congrats with the S3 Renewal! Without spoiling too much, any little snippets about what we might expect to see in Season 3?
Greg: This is hard to answer. Everything I want to tell you will be clear in the last 20 minutes of the finale. Then let's talk!

Sharon: What are the main differences between working on a Broadcast Network like NBC/ABC etc to that of working on a Cable network like Cinemax. Any pros/cons of either?
Greg: I love the streamlined nature of Cinemax. Broadcast TV has a lot of voices, which is necessary given the volume of content they are making. At this point in my life, I am enjoying working for cable due to its freedom and willingness to take things to the limit.

Sharon: Being a huge LOST fan, I know you directed some of my favourite episodes (Special, Solitary), and was wondering what you thought of the ending? (Personally I loved it!).
Greg: I loved how Lost ended, and the spiritual journey of the characters. In terms of the island and the hole that made it sink...not so much. However, the characters and their connection to each other is always what the show was about for me... fantastic.

Sharon: We know that some critics have complained about the amount of Sex/Violence in the show (Personally I think the mix and amount is about perfect), but I was interested in knowing if Cinemax or their owners HBO have had any input or censoring with any parts of the show, or if they give you a free reign?
Greg: The critics complaining doesn't faze us or the network. We are here for the fans of Banshee. Always. Critics that get us, GET US and love the show and are fans themselves.

Sharon: The show has a lot of very strong female characters and terrific actresses. Is this something you set out intentionally to do?
Greg: Yes. Tropper writes these great characters, played by a cast of amazing and strong women. We absolutely celebrate our female characters. Often, they are tougher than the guys on our show. ;)

Sharon: Do you get involved at all in the casting? If not who is the person responsible for bringing such a great cast together?
Greg: Alex Fogel, who cast Oz, The Wire and True Detective is our casting director. She didn't want to take the gig at first, but I convinced her it would be a good time. She mostly deals with me, Tropper and our directors.

Sharon: I was so happy to see one of my favourite actors in Season 2, Zeljko Ivanek. If you could choose 1 actor/actress to guest on Banshee, who would it be and why?
Greg: Willem Dafoe. He is SO Banshee to me - one of the greats.

Sharon: Do you prefer the shorter, more focused Cable Season lengths of 10 Episodes or the longer 20+ Episode Broadcast lengths?
Greg: Ten. It allows us to make sure every episode is quality. At House, we would have about 2 amazing episodes, 8 good episodes, 8 dogs and the rest were solid to ok. With Banshee, we insure every episode is going to blow your mind because we can focus on the work and not the volume of work.

Sharon: Did the 3rd Season Renewal announcement make you change anything for the Season 2 finale? Did you film extra endings/scenes in case it was not renewed?
Greg: No. Season 2 has been done since September, but we set up season 3 already. You really don't want to miss the finale!

Sharon: I know that you follow technology, startups and use Social Media a lot. How important these days, is it for a show such as Banshee on a relatively small network to use these tools and services and interact with the fans of the show?
Greg: You can't (or shouldn’t!) live without it. It’s the key to Banshee's success. I feel a show needs to be great, first and foremost but also that social tools need to be considered by the network. Cinemax loves how we use Twitter, and that is becoming part of their brand.

Marisa: Did you have a plan originally of how you would like events to unfold with the major characters over the course of the series, or do you just let things happen "naturally" and just see where they end up?
Greg: A bit of both. The actors and the characters take a life of their own. We know where we want to land in the big picture but are open to how things evolve. An example is the mayor last year. We had a storyline where he was going to take on Proctor in future seasons. We also wanted to explore him coming out of the closet (something that is hinted at in episode 7 of season 1). The character wasn't working the way we hoped, so we killed him off at the end of the season. We also pulled away from him being gay because it wasn't something we could fully realize and we did not want to seem like his death had anything to do with his homosexuality.

Marisa: Also, did you start with an idea of just how long you hoped the series would run? I personally hope it goes for a very long time, you really scored with this cast combined with such great writing.
Greg: Tropper and I feel like it is a 5 season show.

HellJacket: How familiar are you with noir fiction or roman noir? In particular, are you familiar with the works of Cornell Woolrich, Jim Thompson, David Goodis or any other authors? In watching Banshee, the story reminds me a great deal of Jim Thompson's Pop. 1280, but with a much more likable sheriff. Do you have any favorite sources of inspiration from the genre?
Greg: This is a better question for Tropper!

HellJacket: The Amish element provides a great deal of character to Banshee. How did you and the rest of the creative team go about researching this topic? Does anyone on the show have an Amish background? Do you have any personal knowledge or contact with the Pennsylvania Amish communities, or is Google simply your best friend on this topic?
Greg: We have seen some documentaries and conduct research on the Amish on an ongoing basis to be as accurate as possible. The same care goes into any of the scenes regarding Native American culture.

Rogger: Love the addition of Odette Anable. She's super hot, sexy and dangerous. Just curious if she's going to be back as a series regular in S3? By the way, so disappointed with the use of body-double. Will we get 'real' Odette in the buff soon?
Greg: This season isn't over yet!

Rogger: It seems like Deva is stuck as a plot/reactionary device to her family and Hood. Will we see any actual growth in her character this season or maybe in S3?
Greg: Kids like Deva often react to their parents’ dysfunction as teenagers. We have seen her “descent” and intend to explore her character more next season as well.

Rogger: Nice flashback of Carrie's mom in S2E4. Will we get see more of the 'beauty queen' in future episodes and does she plays a pivotal role in Carrie's relationship with Rabbit?
Greg: Yes. You can see Carrie's mom in Banshee Origins at and a bit more later in the season.

Andy: Have we seen the last of Hood's prison flashbacks, or is there more to come about that aspect of his past? I'm asking because in Episode 4 (IIRC) of Season 1, when Hood is trapped in the museum, he has different flashbacks to the ones relating to the Albino. It appears he could be in solitary confinement, but I'm not sure.
Greg: I would bet on it! explores a nice chunk of Hood's past, including the interrogation tapes after his arrest.

Donnie: Banshee has been great so far, but it does seem to have a fairly limited premise, particularly considering how much forward you have pushed the show in only 15 episodes. Is there some kind of end plan for the show in place?
Greg: We will never run out of story. When we came up with season 3, we couldn't fit everything into one season. Same thing happened last year. Breece was going to be in season 1 but with 10 episodes, it can't all fit. We go at every season like it's our last and want to put everything on the table. We put EVERYTHING on the table in episode 10 of this season.

Lisa: Firstly, thanks for a wonderful show! I was wondering how you're going to approach the Hood character in future. Obviously he's the sheriff, and as such he needs to maintain law and order (haha) and even solve crimes occasionally. However, there's a danger of focusing too much on this aspect, and Banshee veering from the recipe which has been so successful thus far. (becoming just another crime-solving show, albeit a very entertaining one, I'm sure.) So when the omnipresent threats from Rabbit and now Racine (and Jason Hood, to a lesser extent) have been removed, how do you see Hood's story (and those of the people in his life) developing? Is there more to know about his past that could bring forth other characters?
Greg: To quote Job regarding Hood, "bad shit happens to people who get too close to you." Jonathan Tropper and I have figured out the threats that are going to face Hood into season 4. We won't ever become a procedural, but we do hope to find ways that the badge impacts his choices. It’s hard to say more about that until after the finale. But ask yourself, is the threat of Rabbit removed?

VisitorQ: Love so much last night episode (The Truth About Unicorns) - are you planning to do another one in this style in next season, or is it too early to tell?
Greg: Each season of banshee will be told in its own away. Part of what we love about the show is making sure that it surprises our fans, not only episode to episode, but also season to season. Season 3's structure will be entirely different than season 2 which is entirely different than season 1. The way we plan to end season 3, no one will predict. It will be the best end to a season ever. When Tropper pitched it, I got chills. Sadly you have to wait until 2015 to experience that yourself.

VisitorQ: One of my favourite supporting character is Clay Burton - will we see something about his past (for example how he met Kai) or you prefer to make this character mysterious like Olivia Wilde's 13 in House M.D.?
Greg: Anyone loving Burton NEEDS to watch episode 6 tomorrow night.

VisitorQ: Love adding two great actors - Ziejko Ivanek and Julian Sands - to cast, do you have in your mind another ones that you would like to cast in season 3?
Greg: We do. We’re looking at casting now. Can’t say anymore.

VisitorQ: Thing that bothers me is relationship between Rebecca and Kai - I like it is show on master/disciple base, but there is some kind of strange sexual tension between them (s01ep08 and most of all s02ep02), so my question is, will we see the progress of this thing in this season?
Greg: You are picking up on something - I'm sorry it bothers you. You won't expect where that relationship is going. Look for an Easter egg in episodes 7 and 8 to foreshadow...

VisitorQ: Songs used in the show are amazing (their selection reminds me very much of music work in Quentin Tarantino movies) - are you planning to release an album/soundtrack with them, and if yes, when can we expect it?
Greg: It’s out and on iTunes!

VisitorQ: Lucas and Ana/Carrie is a great couple, but I think I might like Lucas and Siobhan better, but will we see more of their relationship or that was just a one night stand?
Greg: You will. It’s evolving and you'll see more of it this week.

VisitorQ: Nola is a such a great character - will she back in this season?
Greg: I can't say.

VisitorQ: I love Banshee have so many strong female characters that have lots of action scenes. Only Rebecca has not yet had any fight scenes. Can we expect that in this season?
Greg: She’s not a fighter but expect something unexpected from her later this season.

VisitorQ: Is there something you would change in season one (if You would have chance to do it)?
Greg: I was really happy with season 1. I would have made a casting change here and there but am otherwise very pleased with where we landed. It’s a good question and one I have asked myself. As always, some episodes are better than others. I do find that when the episodes are longer and more robust in time, they work better for our fans.

VisitorQ: Will this season will end with some crazy cliffhanger like last one?
Greg: I don't want to say much other than the finale is a full 60 minutes and it's the best thing I have ever directed. It gives the Banshee fan’s everything they ever dreamed of!

Leon: When can we expect Lucas Hood's secret to be revealed to more people? (But mainly, his daughter)
Greg: The seams of Lucas’ secret are always in threat. Expect that to come into question in episodes 9 and 10. How it does, will surprise you.

Breaking Bad Greece: How many seasons does he have plotted?
Greg: We have the general idea of where all five seasons will go. We have season 3 planned and part of season 4 in terms of story we want to tell.

Breaking Bad Greece: And when there are going to reveal Lucas "real" name?
Greg: Unlikely.

Thanks again to Greg for taking the time to answer all our readers’ questions!

About the Author - Sandi
Sandi is part of the Senior Staff at SpoilerTV having been a contributor from back in the Lost days of DarkUFO, and who now writes previews for Doctor Who, The Musketeers, Banshee, Black Sails, and Atlantis. She also enjoys watching and commenting on other shows like Sons of Anarchy, Hannibal, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Suburgatory and Elementary.

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