Murky blue- brown images, bringing to mind a Lorca play developed for today’s premium TV audience, fill the screen in the trailer for “The Gypsy Bride,” from “Penny Dreadful” director Paco Cabezas, which world premiered at the San Sebastián Film Festival.
The fiction is produced by ViacomCBS International Studios (VIS), with the participation of Atresmedia Televisión, and in collaboration with Diagonal TV.
More from Variety
As well as presenting the first season of the series at the Spanish-speaking world’s highest-profile festival, Cabezas, the show’s creator and director had something else to celebrate on Wednesday.
The show, which premieres on Sept. 25 on Atresplayer Premium, the ebullient OTT service of broadcast network Atresmedia, has renewed “The Gypsy Bride” (“La Novia Gitana”) for a second season.
The Seville-born director sat down with Variety to talk about creating he eight-part Season 1 of “The Gypsy Bride,”shot inside the Madrid gypsy community, Spain’s largest, and how he went from busking on the Madrid subway to meetings with Steven Spielberg, after a near-fatal car crash.
“It’s a very violent show,” he said, speaking about ‘The Gypsy Bride.” “But at the same time, it’s very beautiful. It’s rooted in gypsy culture, and I use real gypsy actors. We feature different flamenco artists in each episode. Lorca is a good comparison because flamenco is also rooted in tragedy. As for the show’s look, we used a blue-brown palette to create the look with only the blood and white wedding dress in other colors.”
A thriller, “The Gypsy Bride” is set in a gypsy community on Madrid’s outskirts where homicide inspector Elena Blanco, (Nerea Barros, “Marshland”) is called in to investigate a murder of a young gypsy woman just before her wedding.
The first season is an adaptation of “La Novia,” the first book in “La Novia Gitana,” a crime trilogy written by Carmen Mola (a pseudonym for a writing trío formed by Jorge Díaz, Agustín Martínez and Antonio Mercero). 150,000 copies of the book sold in 10 countries when the book was released in 2018.
Season 2 will adapt the second book in the series, “La red púrpura.”
Raised in Seville, and now based in Madrid, Cabezas confesses to “almost fainting” when his daughter falls and scratches a limb. But he says he’s learned to see fake blood as beautiful, and find a way to interpret violence that gives it meaning.
He spent five intense months putting together the first series without taking a break. “It’s the only way to keep complete creative control,” he said. “The lower the budget the more freedom you have.”
He’s now got his hands full with the second season. He’s also returning to the Netflix show “The Umbrella Academy” for which he’s previously directed several episodes.
Cabezas has, as well as establishing himself in Spain, notched up a long list of TV and film credits in the U.S., including “American Gods,” “Into The Badlands,” “Fear The Walking Dead” and “Rage” with Nicolas Cage.
But it was his most recent film in Spain, “Adios,” that got him more familiar with the gypsy community in his native Seville. He made the film after a man living in a van presented him with a script. “I read it and it was just incredible,” he said.
He’s come a long way since busking in the Madrid subway where he would also do some flamenco.
A near death experience helped propel him forward.
“At 17, I had a car crash. I was O.K. but as my car was turning in slow motion, I thought I’m going to die a virgin and never make a film. I got right on it,” he said.
He did film school by working in a video store for five years. His U.S. career took off after his thriller “Neon Flash” played in Tribeca in 2011.
“I’ve stayed living in Madrid but I go to L.A. and literally do 100 meetings in two weeks,” he says.
He’s thrilled to work on a new season of the Netflix show “The Umbrella Academy,” but it’s not the same as giving birth to a new creation like “The Gypsy Bride,” he says.
“Doing a show like ‘Gypsy Bride,’ it’s your baby, and you are the mother,” he said. “When you get brought onto other shows it’s more like you are taking the kids to the arcade then you give them back.”
As for meeting Steven Spielberg. “I worked on ‘Halo’ for Amblin Entertainment,” he said.
And from Madrid, he’s worked for the best of them with “American Gods” (Amazon); “Penny Dreadful,” “Dirk Gently,” “The Alienist” (Netflix); “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Into the Badlands” (AMC); and “The Strain” (FX).
Best of Variety