Spanish filmmaker Alice Waddington has movies in her blood. When her father was in college, he ran a film club at his university where he played banned French and English movies during the Franco dictatorship, which is where he met a friend who eventually went on to become a director of photography in films and commercials. Alice started working as that friend’s assistant when she was 16, before ultimately moving on to become a photographer, costume designer, and a director, making her feature debut with a new sci-fi/fantasy movie called Paradise Hills.
The film was my favorite of the movies I caught at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and since it opens in theaters this Friday, I sat down with Waddington to talk about the film’s fairy tale imagery and immersive locations, Waddington’s visual style, how Guillermo del Toro inadvertently helped get it made, and much more.
[This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.]
Congratulations on the movie. I saw it at Sundance and really loved it, and before the premiere there, you spoke about how this movie was a tribute to your 14-year-old self. Can you talk a little more about that?
Of course. From the bottom of my heart, the film is for my 12-, 13-, 14-year-old self. What I’ve mentioned is that I did it for this nerdy version of myself in high school who loved Lord of the Rings and NeverEnding Story but couldn’t see herself in those narratives, perhaps. So I essentially just wanted to create that space, that story, for me and then later on for my friends. An inclusive space where I could also rescue princess and fell dragons and the like. laughs
You have a story credit on this, but you didn’t write the screenplay. Was that your decision? Were you busy prepping other aspects of the film at the time?
I was very busy working retail to survive when we were writing the film. laughs The story is that in 2015, we wrapped my first short film, Disco Inferno, and then I started writing with Sofia Cuenca, who wrote the original treatment for Shrew’s Nest, and we started writing a roughly 40-page treatment that was quite different from the finished version. I took it to Fantastic Fest that very year, and I pitched it at the Fantastic market. We won second-best pitch prior to the market, I won best director there [for the short film Legs], and the fairy tale aspect of that was that I met Guillermo del Toro who was there for Crimson Peak. He introduced me to his manager, his agent, and they introduced me to my producers at Nostromo Pictures in Barcelona at Sitges that very year. So that was a full circle moment.
They loved the treatment that I brought them, but Sofia Cuenca had family issues and needed to step away, so I brought...
For Dean Devlin, the idea of the new WGN series Almost Paradise came about 14 years ago during his honeymoon in Hawaii. He connected with the island and was intoxicated by island culture, island justice and island spirituality — and wanted to make a show set in Hawaii. His soulful connection to island life made sense considering he is of Filipino descent. With that in mind, the idea for the show shifted.Christian Kane in ‘Almost Paradise’. Courtesy of Electric Entertainment
“As the years went on and I kept thinking about it, there was something there that wasn’t authentic to me,” Devlin told Deadline. “It was only a couple of years ago that the idea came to do it in the Philippines and then it changed everything. Then I got really excited about the project.”
Devlin is known for working on series such as The Librarians and Leverage and blockbuster features like Independence Day. It’s no surprise that he has found a career in Hollywood as his mother was an actress who appeared on the original Star Trek — the only Filipino actress to appear in the series as far as we know. That said, Devlin is making history on his own as he created the first American TV show that was entirely shot in the Philippines.
The series stars Christian Kane — who Devlin previously worked with on The Librarians — stars as Alex Walker, a former DEA agent who was forced into early retirement. After going through major obstacles including betrayal and health problems he decides to uproot to Cebu in the Philippines. But it isn’t long before he gets pulled into the dangerous world of the criminal elite of the Asian archipelago.Samantha Richelle in ‘Almost Paradise’ Courtesy of Electric Entertainment
Devlin recently wrapped Almost Paradise and they left the Philippines right before airports started to shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak. He told us that telling a story connected to his DNA is something he has never done before and the fact that he got to employ Filipinos for the series made it even more exciting.
The series stars Kane in the lead, but also includes Filipino actors Samantha Richelle, Arthur Acuña, Nonie Buencamino and Ces Quesada. On top of that, he directed episodes alongside fellow accomplished Filipino directors including Irene Villamor, Hannah Espia and Dan Villegas.
Devlin talked to Deadline about shooting Almost Paradise which debuts tonight on WGN in the Philippines, the underrepresentation of Filipinos in film and TV and how the series showcases the Philippines like it has never been seen before.
DEADLINE: Was the majority the cast and crew of Almost Paradise Filipino, Filipino American...
SPOILER ALERT: If you are among the few who haven’t actually watched Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries, this review contains a lot of details about what goes down in the sad big cat saga.
With Netflix poised in the coming days to cash in and crank the base up a notch with more Tiger King, it's time to come out and say it: I hate the Red State porn that is the crash and burn of Joe Exotic
The initial seven episodes of this septic and shallow patchwork of trademark infringement, sex, guns, labor exploitation, song, drugs, mullets, betrayal, animal activism, revenge, and a lot of big cats may be much binged over these weeks of coronavirus lockdown, but that doesn't mean it's actually worth watching.
Now, I get it, I sound like I'm just a dour critic who hates anything that isn't prestige premium cable or aspirational. C'mon man, you want to say, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is just so unbelievable, I can't look away.
I respectfully disagree, and in fact, propose Tiger King isn't just bad, but dangerous in a divided America persistently looking to reduce the other side to caricature.
In a presently ailing nation where TV is more voluminous and vital than ever, the truth is the March 20 launched Tiger King is a clawed white trash misery index. Gawking at some clearly fragile and damaged people like would-be reality TV star Exotic and their below the Mason-Dixon line antics, the series subsequently provides a cultural circus for those smug bicoastals under stay at home orders and screaming to rise up in moral superiority.
Essentially, the tale of big cat collector, self-styled Oklahoma zoo proprietor and 2016 Presidential candidate Exotic AKA Joseph Maldonado-Passage and his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to have rival Carole Baskin knocked off by a hitman hired for $3,000, Tiger King is in that context more a zero-sum game, literally and figuratively, than hitting the zeitgeist.
Obviously, Netflix are pretty damn good at gauging and dragging the public mood over the years, as the likes of the then phenomenon of 2015's Making A Murderer or 2018’s Wild Wild Country prove. Yet, for all the attention it has drawn, this unfocused murder for hire exploration of sorts emerges as a bastard child of Cops, a million Dateline segments from the 1990s and Fox’s short-lived Murder in Small Town X reality show from 2001.
Not exactly the prestige product that the home of Roma, The Irishman and American Factory likes to brag about at award shows. Then again, with the knowledge that the Romans sold out the Colosseum every night feeding Christians to the lions, the bottom line based House of Hastings surely loves the subscription sign up that the currently incarcerated Maldonado-Passage and the accompanying motley gaggle of...