Scott Frank Interview: ‘Godless’ showrunner
“I really thought I was writing a story about fathers and sons,” showrunner Scott Frank says about his so-called “feminist western” miniseries “Godless.” Frank reveals in an interview with Gold Derby (watch the exclusive video above) that he originally finished writing “Godless” in 2004 — as a feature film screenplay, which proved difficult to sell.
Reconceiving “Godless” as a miniseries, Frank developed the supporting characters, most of whom were women, as the story’s backdrop is a town in which most of the men have died in a mining accident. He explains, “The biggest changes involve… the women in the town. I expanded a lot of the characters there. I really gave the town a lot more prominence, and it just seemed like an interesting story or an interesting setting that I’d never seen before and something different to me.” The project stars Jack O’Connell, Jeff Daniels, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy and Merritt Wever.
Frank pitched the miniseries to Netflix and HBO, the latter having recently collaborated with fellow “Godless” executive producer Steven Soderbergh on “Behind the Candelabra” and “The Knick.” Frank explains, “They both wanted to do it and Netflix was more immediate and really motivated to make it right away and so we ended up doing it there.” Written as six episodes and set to run six hours, the miniseries had ballooned to eight-and-a-half hours after shooting and was ultimately released as seven episodes. Frank admits that “the episodes were re-balanced quite a bit,” with the bulk of cut footage depicting childhood flashbacks that “the miniseries just didn’t need.”
Having spent most of his career in film and even having been Oscar-nominated for adapting 1998’s “Out of Sight” and 2017’s “Logan,” Frank muses about television, “It is where people are going and I’ll tell you there’s a trade-off, because you may lose the so-called purity of being in a theater, but more people see it. Way more people saw ‘Godless’ in the miniseries format streamed on Netflix than I think they would have in a movie theater, so I’m all about go-with-the-flow right now.” Scott announces that he is gearing up for another Netflix miniseries, adapting Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel “The Queen’s Gambit.” Commenting on the existence of the project for the first time, Frank jokes, “I’m excited because no one gets shot, raped or hung, so it’ll be nice to do something a little different this time.”