“It was physically one of the most demanding things that I’ve ever done, but stunningly beautiful,” says “Coyote” director and executive producer Michelle MacLaren about shooting the Paramount+ drama series. “Our incredible crew just took the camera everywhere, whether it was with dune buggies or whatever we needed.” MacLaren spoke with us as part of our Emmy season “Meet the Experts” directors panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Coyote” tells the story of Ben Clemens (Michael Chiklis), a Border Patrol agent who retires only to be forced into the service of a drug cartel. “I felt on the surface it was an entertaining action drama, but really underneath it’s a conversation between America and Mexico,” MacLaren explains about why the story appealed to her. “It allowed us to put a character from America to walk in the shoes of somebody that they have been basically keeping out of our country for many years … and allowed them to open their eyes and see that the world is not black-and-white.”
MacLaren appreciates how “brave” the studio (Sony) and network (Paramount+) were to let the show film on location the way they did. “They let us go to the real places. We were all over northern and southern Baja. We were right up to the border between Mexico and the US, and we were all the way to the southern tip. So we were in the desert, deep in the desert, and we went to locations that it was so hard to get to,” but it was worth it for the visuals they were able to capture there.
And Chiklis, whom MacLaren has known for years, was game for anything. “I called him when we were scouting and I said, ‘Look, I just need to know that you’re going to commit to this physically because we are going to go for it.’ … And he said, ‘Absolutely, let’s swing for the fences.'” And with that big swing, she hopes that the audience felt “transported” to these locales. “It’s a beautiful part of the country.”
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