Ed. Note: Since we know you’re just as excited as we are for the beginning of the second season of Longmire, we bring you this little special taste!
Season 2 of Longmire is upon us and I had a chance to sit down with one of the shows editors, Vikash Patel, and talk about the new season. Patel has been around since the beginning, having edited several episodes during season 1 including the episode starring and directed by Peter Weller, “The Worst Kind of Hunter.” After taking his time between seasons to cut NBC’s Revolution (not a bad side gig) he is back with Walt and the gang working on new episodes not from Wyoming, but from the not-so-wide-open skies of Los Angeles, where the show is cut.
Eric Beetner: Before you started working on the show, were you aware of the Longmire books by Craig Johnson?
Vikash Patel: Yes, I had heard of the books, but still to this day have not found time to read them...I guess I’ll wait for the stories to unfold on the series, which is kind of exciting for me. I think I will enjoy the books when I get around to them.
EB: I think the show is remarkably well cast. Did you see the actors grow into their roles on the show throughout season 1?
VP: Yes, I think all the actors grow from episode to episode, some more than others. I feel Bailey Chase (Branch) has really developed, and has embraced his role as a deputy. Walt’s in for some serious competition regarding the Sheriff position. Also the dynamic between Walt and Vic has become great, they’ve really found a wonderful, honest chemistry. As for Walt Longmire, I can’t imagine anyone else playing him other than Robert Taylor, he just lives and breathes Walt Longmire. He’s fantastic, a true gentleman.
EB: And still fooling a lot of people, I suspect, who have no idea he is Australian... Did you discuss with the producers and directors any touchstone shows you felt were comparable to what you were going for with Longmire? It’s not all fast and slick like CSI. Were there more classic crime/cop shows you looked to for inspiration?
VP: Not at all. We try make a indie film each week. Of course, there is a specific style that each director brings, but the show has one voice, and that is created by all of us, from the writing, producing, cinematography, production design and editing...everyone tries to elevate the script.
EB: Is there a lot on the cutting room floor or do they keep it a tight shooting script?
VP: Ha!..Approximately 10 to 15 minutes of film is left on the cutting room floor! I guess we could piece all the leftover film and make a funky modern day western story, it would be disjointed but could be a fun exercise!
EB: Hey, that’s what DVD extras are for! So, how many days does it take to film an episode?
VP: They shoot for seven days.
EB: How would you quantify the show? A police procedural? A modern western? An action show?
VP: A modern day western/ procedural.
EB: You’ve invented a whole new genre. I guess that can be credited to Craig Johnson, and is surely one of the reasons the books have been so popular. Walt is a great character in a setting we don’t usually get to see. I love that there are little touches of humor, albeit very dry and deadpan humor. How important is it to find little moments of levity in the stories?
VP: Very, I think it’s these moments that keep the show honest. It’s what keeps us all grounded.
EB: You and I first worked together on a show shot in India and we both know the importance of locations. How crucial is the Wyoming setting of Longmire? What do you do to bring that out? The show would be a totally different beast if it was all shot on stages and in Griffith Park here in L.A.
VP: The setting in Longmire really is a character, the show would not feel authentic if it was shot in L.A. on stages! As for bringing it out, there’s not much to do here, every exterior scene is stunning, you just play it out and let the background do its own talking!
EB: Do you get to know the storylines for a season ahead of time, or not until they drop a script on your desk to start cutting?
VP: We know little bits, which I think is a good thing...it’s a journey for us, so I’m happy to know less and discover it along the way.
EB: Have you become emotionally invested in the story? Do you ever find yourself talking to the screen like a viewer and yelling at Walt to open up, or tell someone his feelings?
VP: For sure, there are often times I feel like telling Walt and Vic to go do this and that! I get sucked in by Robert’s performance all the time, it’s very easy, he’s Walt Longmire. I’m emotionally invested in where Walt and Cady left off at the end of the first season.
EB: What, if anything, can you tell us about season 2?
VP: It’s epic! so you better tune in and watch!
I know I’ll be tuned in each week. Thanks to Vikash for taking the time and to the whole crew for giving us a fully fleshed interpretation of the book series.
Season 2 starts tonight on A&E.
Vikash Patel’s other editing credits include Smallville, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and the recent feature film The Story of Luke.
Eric Beetner is the author of Dig Two Graves, Split Decision, and A Mouth Full Of Blood, as well as co-author (with JB Kohl) of One Too Many Blows To The Head and Borrowed Trouble. His award-winning short stories have appeared in Pulp Ink, D*cked, Grimm Tales, Discount Noir, Off The Record, Murder In The Wind, Needle Magazine, Crimefactory, The Million Writers Award: Best New Online Voices and more. His newest novel, The Devil Doesn’t Want Me is available now. For more info visit ericbeetner.blogspot.com.
Read all posts by Eric Beetner for Criminal Element.