How ‘Yellowstone’ Prequel ‘1883’ Is Taking a Page Out of John Wayne Collaborator’s Book


Citing another legendary filmmaker, Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan is relying on “Old Hollywood” filmmaking for his newest epic, 1883.

“I don’t build a world with visual effects,” Sheridan begins for Entertainment Weekly. The trade just hit Yellowstone fans with an exclusive first-look at the show’s sprawling sequel, 1883, and the buzz is palpable.

Right off the bat, the Yellowstone creator doubles down on his penchant for practical effects, too. It’s something fans have come to expect through the first three seasons of his flagship show. And we can expect much of the same for its first spinoff, period-correct Western 1883.

“I go shoot these corners of the world that people haven’t seen,” Sheridan continues for EW. “The audience today is so experienced. They’ve seen so much, so to move the audience becomes more and more difficult. It’s incredibly expensive and very difficult.”

Yet it doesn’t have to be. As Sheridan cites: “We can do it as John Ford did it. When you need 50 wagons, you’re going to see 50 [real] wagons.”

As Outsiders know, the Yellowstone mastermind is citing legendary director John Ford. “Legendary” is an understatement, too. In a career spanning 1913 to 1971, Ford would direct over 140 films. But it’s his work with John Wayne that would create the Hollywood Blockbuster and change the industry forever.

‘1883’ Creator Taylor Sheridan Cites John Ford as a Driving Influence
As Taylor Sheridan notes, Ford was a master of utilizing practical effects. He had no choice, as special effects as we know them weren’t a thing yet. There was no relying on CGI or heavy-retouching in post. Effects could be hand-drawn and painted over film (and were to great use), sure, but if you needed 50 moving wagons in a Western, as Sheridan says, then you moved those 50 wagons across the actual West.

Much of Ford and Wayne’s influence can be felt in Yellowstone proper, too. The widely-influential Modern Western feels as close to that bygone era of filmmaking as anything we’ve seen in decades. It’s certainly the only Western, modern or not, to approach the impact of these late legends’ work. And this is exactly why Sheridan brought back Yellowstone‘s brilliant production design “trio” of production designer Cary White, set decorator Carly Curry and art director Yvonne Boudreau for 1883.

The group is responsible for Yellowstone‘s recent – and only – Emmy nominations. And each has proven themselves as much a stickler for perfection as Sheridan.

“Taylor is shooting this with 30 wagon trains, going across America,” 1883‘s Executive Producer David Glasser detailed this summer, echoing Sheridan’s distaste for relying on special effects. “The Duttons travel with other families and pick up other groups along the way. It’s like a moving city. Taylor didn’t want to do it CGI, where you could have built 10 wagon trains and with the world we’re living in today, you could have added 20… We’re taking 30 wagon trains across America, and he’s re-creating everything.”

1883’s team is building everything “top to bottom.” The way it should be, Glasser concludes.

1883 unfolds come December 19 on Paramount Network.

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