David Rodriguez [Interview]

Photo by Parrish Lewis

Hello Folks! And welcome back to another exciting week here at Trainwreck’d Society. Today we have some wonderful words from another brilliant writer and filmmaker that I know you are all going to love. It’s David Rodriguez, Everyone!

In recent years, David has been working on some of the best television that is available today. As we have noticed over the last decade or so, TV is where it is at these days. Some of the best minds are telling some of the best stories in these modern times. Case in point: TNT’s Animal Kingdom, which is absolutely fantastic. And wouldn’t you know it, our incredible interview subject today happens to be one of the people bringing this truly original program to life. Also in the world of TV, David has directed a plethora of episodes for other amazing series such as Power, Chicago P.D., Queen of the South, and so many more, some of which will be discussed below.

But, beyond the world of television, Rodriguez is also an accomplished filmmaker, which is the actual main reason I was so excited to have him grace our digital pages. In 2013, he wrote and directed the modern mafia classic film, Once Upon A Time in Queens. I absolutely adore this film, and truly believe it should be ranked among the best of its kind. David called in heavy hitters of the genre, such as Michael Rapaport, Paul Sorvino, Chazz Palminteri, Steven Bauer, and more to tell this gripping tale of the mafia in the more modern world. Again, I love this film, and was so excited to talk to David about it, and so much more.

So, Folks, please enjoy this absolutely stellar interview with the modern legend himself, the great David Rodriguez!

When did you first discover your passion for the world of filmmaking? What made you decide that this was the world in which you wanted to earn a living?

Not to sound cliché but I had a passion for filmmaking from a very young age. My oldest sister Janet spent many summers is taking me to blockbuster movies like Jaws, Star Wars, and Rocky to name a few. Unfortunately, I did not know or have a way into show business. I also didn’t know what a director did. As a young kid I watched TV quite a bit and only knew what I saw on the small screen. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that there were many creative people behind the scenes and I feel like that heightened my desire to want to discover and ultimately pursue becoming a filmmaker.

What was your very first gig in the world of film or television? And did this experience help in any way to shape the artist you have become today?

My very first gig in the entertainment industry was being an extra in a Busta Rhymes music video. Not sure how much that influenced me or shaped my desire to become a filmmaker but, I can tell you that I was thoroughly embarrassed because we went to elementary school together and I couldn’t even look at them. Years later I directed my first feature, Push, which I wrote and produced and that is probably the experience that made me realize this was a worthwhile journey.

David Rodriguez & Michael Rapaport on the set of “Once Upon A Time In Queens”. Photo by Kelsey Bennett.


Your 2013 film Once Upon a Time in Queens is absolutely brilliant. It’s such a wonderful and compelling story with some amazing performances. So what inspired you to bring this story to the screen? What was it that compelled you to bring this story to life?

Once Upon a Time in Queens was an absolute passion project. Growing up in New York I experienced what it was like to see and come across major mob figures. They were revered, they were heroes, they were villains, they were people that many of my friends looked up to. I often thought about the danger of living a life like that. Years later when I began to write the screenplay I thought of the idea and what it must be like to spend 20 years in prison, get released, and come back to a much more progressive environment and society. The main characters daughter played by Renee Props was a role that I thought could really catapult the film into a space that was topical and new. Working with Paul Sorvino was a wonderful experience as well. He was so invested in this character. Unfortunately, the producers mismanaged the release of this film and it didn’t get the attention and acclaim we all thought it deserved. 

The hit TNT series Animal Kingdom that you have worked extensively on as a producer and director has really been gaining some traction over the last 2 1/2 seasons, and I understand it has already been picked up for a 4th! So what drew you to this project? What made you want to work on this brilliant project?

The Animal Kingdom subject matter is interesting to say the least. The characters are flawed, the stories are compelling, the matriarch figure is despicable but interesting. Animal Kingdom feels so real on so many levels but what really attracted me to becoming the producing-director on Animal Kingdom was the opportunity to work with John Wells. He’s such a generous and smart person to work for and at the very least, I find myself picking up lessons and nuggets every day we’re in contact.

I have also been hearing great things about the Showtime Original series The Chi. I’m also curious to know what drew you to this particular project as well? And what can fans expect to see in the coming season?

I can’t tell you what fans should expect for season two of The Chi as I’m no longer involved with the project but season one was certainly a thrilling and exciting experience. Growing up in the South Bronx and witnessing all that I did made The Chi very familiar to me. I guess you can say that I brought my personal experiences with me and that became the reason why I directed and produced the first season the way that I did. I poured my heart and soul into that project and I’m happy that my hard work contributed to it getting a second season.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Going back for another season of Animal Kingdom is what the future holds but during hiatus, I’ll be directing the season six premiere of Power and a new show from Mike Kelly, What/If, for Netflix.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I’m in Chicago directing an episode of Chicago PD so the last thing that made me smile was looking forward to the chicken parm at The Palm which is where I’m headed to right after I’m done here.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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