September 20, 2018
«Better Call Vince», a masterclass at Blanquerna
The audience went from applauding enthusiastically to complete silence. The director of the Degree in Audiovisual Communication, Judith Colell, had just introduced the protagonist of the day, which took place in front of a packed auditorium: Vince Gilligan, visiting Barcelona within the framework of the Serielizados Fest.
It was his first public event, in front of writers, screenwriters, journalists, teachers and students of Blanquerna. In conversation with film director Nacho Vigalondo, Gilligan reviewed his career as a writer and showrunner, from the beginnings with X-Files to the two shows that have elevated him to the category of expert in his field: Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.
In spite of having written for cinema as well, Gilligan made it clear that his preference was working in televising: "It’s a more collaborative job. It’s necessary that each person in the team contributes to create a product with the magnitude of a series. " Despite being an equally collective medium, the theory of authors still prevails in cinema. In television, on the other hand, there is no other choice but to distribute authorship throughout the creative process among the various agents involved. "The only solitary act was the writing of the pilot. From there on, everyone did their bit on the project, "explained Gilligan with reference to Breaking Bad.
A show about changes
If you take a look at the character of Walter White, at the beginning and at the end of the series there is one thing that’s clear: they are not the same. The change is the driving force both in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. The difference between writing an episodic fiction, as almost all of the series have been so far, and writing a serial is based on the possibilities the characters have to evolve.
In this line, Gilligan established a parallel between the evolution of the characters and the writing process, exemplifying it with the metaphor of a road-trip: it’s good to have a fixed destination, but it’s not desirable to insist on following the same road until you reach the end. "The worst thing you can do is be rigid. The characters and the story must flow. "
Don’t ever end!
The showrunner shared the intimate details of the writer's room of one of the great television series with the audience in a spellbinding conversation, nimbly led by Vigalondo. When questioned about the end of the series, Gilligan confessed that it was one of the things that worried him most. "People love to hate the ending of a series," said Vigalondo, because “as we are used to being surprised, the twist of the plot, the shock, rarely meets the audience’s expectations, to the extent that, sometimes, the end of a series responds more to a demand of the audience than to the sense of the character and the story. Regarding this point, Gilligan was satisfied with the way Breaking Bad ended. "It's an honest ending for both the character and the series; and because of this, it satisfies the viewers. "
There was no lack of anecdotes about Breaking Bad, especially when Nacho Vigalondo commented that this series differs from others because not only does it pay attention to human beings but it also looks for details in objects, space and the surroundings. Gilligan explained that when they told him to go and film in New Mexico, he thought it was a bad idea because he wanted to stay in Los Angeles and sleep in his own bed and not have to travel 1,000km, "but the state gave us money". What seemed like a mistake ended up being a "fortunate and inspiring accident" which determined the setting and atmosphere of the series.
The audience in the auditorium of the School thoroughly enjoyed seeing such a dedicated and passionate Gilligan and a cool and energetic Nacho Vidalongo. Even Gilligan commented that "right now while I'm talking, Los Angeles are making the next Better Call Saul season." There’s no time to disconnect.
Meanwhile, he dedicated himself to answering all the questions that he could, although not all the attendees managed to get their questions in. Time ran out. Yet another standing ovation for Gilligan!
Gilligan in the press:
ABC | Vince Gilligan: «No podría haber hecho “Breaking Bad” sin “Expediente X”»
La Vanguardia | El creador de ‘Breaking Bad’, Vince Gilligan, serà l’estrella del cinquè Serializados Fest
El País | “Ver series en televisión es como comer patatas fritas, no puedes parar”
El Periódico | Vince Gilligan ('Breaking Bad') quería una serie en la que las acciones tuvieran "consecuencias"
RAC1 | Vince Gilligan, creador de ‘Breakig Bad’: “Sóc neuròtic i pessimista, per mi escriure és una feina molt dura”