I recently had the opportunity to speak with Executive Producer of the third season of Twin Peaks, Sabrina Sutherland. Sabrina has been the site before ( Lynching Television (again) – a conversation with Sabrina Sutherland about Twin Peaks: The Return By Andreas Halskov ) and I really appreciated her agreeing to come back and talk to us again. This time we spoke of her overall experience working on the show, her relationship with David Lynch, the acclaim the show is receiving and much more. Hope you enjoy the interview!
25YL: You worked with David on the second season of Twin Peaks, On the Air, Hotel Room and also on two of his features (Lost Highway and Inland Empire) prior to the return to Twin Peaks. How did your relationship with David grow and change over the years?
SS: It grew and changed based on the job that I did. I would be working directly for someone else, whether it be Deepak Nayer who was the producer that now I am for David. Our relationship changed based on what I was doing. I’ve been working with him exclusively since the end of 2008 and I do a lot of other things besides production within his company. Our relationship has changed and I get more responsibility and you have a different working relationship that way.
25YL: Can we talk about the position you took in 2008 more?
SS: In 2008 he had me come in to look at different things in his company for whatever reason. He obviously knew who I was. We had been doing some commercials – he does a lot of other things besides film and TV. I was the production manager for the commercials he was doing at the time and I guess he just liked the work that I did. He had me come in and look at some other things he was doing. So I started working with him only because he does so many things. He has such a wide variety of interests and work and it really became a full-time job. Rather than being a person for hire I became a member of his staff to help with all the different things he did.
25YL: At what point were you made aware that work on Twin Peaks had begun?
SS: He and Mark had been meeting for a while. Nothing had been said as to specifically why that was happening but just being there you knew something was happening. At one point David called me in and said we’re writing and we want to bring Twin Peaks back. He wanted me to read over what they had and talk to him and come up with a budget and a schedule and put a proposal together to go to a company to raise money for it.
25YL: I’ve always had this vision of your job during the production of Twin Peaks being 24 hours a day with a checklist a mile long. What all did your job entail from when you first learned of the project until today?
SS: I will say that it did kind of take over my life for the whole time (laughs). At that time nothing had been solidified. Ideas were flowing and there was some stuff written down. I think they gave me two kind of parts, two things they were thinking could be episodes if it had to be television. It wasn’t really thought of that way by David though in terms of the scope of it. It was this film and here were two sections of it. I was asked to do a budget and project what it would be like for the whole show off these two parts. It was a lot of discussion at that point rather than hard facts. As time went on, we had something completed and then it was onto pre-production and getting all of David’s ideas to everyone and making sure everyone was on the same wave length in terms of work. Then shooting the whole thing started in September of 2015 and we finished in April of 2016. We went right into post production from there and that lasted a year. It’s working pretty much seven days a week and a lot of hours every day. Once we finished post production it went to delivery, which is getting everything put together for the different countries and broadcasts and from there it was onto the Blu Ray/ DVD sets. There’s just a lot of work. It’s just now that I can finally kind of take a breath and say “Ok, we’re almost done”. Then as soon as I took a breath I got sick (laughs). I think I had held onto my trying to be able to finish everything and kept my body in check and then as soon as I could relax, I got sick. That’s where I’m at now, just getting over being sick.
25YL: Are you able to enjoy finally being able to take a breath now?
SS: Kind of. There’s always stuff going on. Now I’m back to the job I had prior to Twin Peaks. I’m still working on all of these other things that are involved with David’s company. I still have all of this other work I’m dealing with, which I had to deal with while we were doing Twin Peaks as well. There’s a lot of work to do but it is nice to be a little bit more relaxed for sure.
25YL: Has your work on Twin Peaks been completed with the release of the boxset this week?
SS: No, there’s more still. Organizing different things, making sure final things are done. It’s not done but it’s very close.
25YL: This week several publications put out their “Best of 2017” lists and Twin Peaks topped many of those lists. The box set is sold out everywhere. What’s it like for you to see this kind of reaction to something you’ve dedicated the past several years of your life to?
SS: I couldn’t be obviously more happy and proud of the work. This is David’s baby in many ways and I’m really happy for him and I’m really happy that I was able to help him get what he wanted. So it’s nice to see the recognition for him in particular.
25YL: I’m going to speak as a fan for a moment instead of as a journalist. You took on and embraced this role as a person from the inside who spoke daily with the fan community and answered our questions, set the record straight on certain things and kept this open dialogue with us that was truly appreciated by all of us. Knowing how hard you worked behind the scenes and how engaged you were with us, a lot of this credit and recognition belongs to you as well.
SS: Thank you for saying that, that was really nice to hear. I’m a huge fan myself. That’s the reason I started working on the show myself is because I saw the first season and called to see if I could work on the show. Being a fan, you know what people want, you don’t want to have someone giving you bullshit and you want a straight answer. I will say that I hear and see a lot of comments that are totally wrong that I don’t correct just because I don’t want to do that all the time. There are some things that I can say “No, wait a minute, this is really the right thing” I like to do that because as a fan I would like to know what the reality is.
25YL: What has your experience with the fan community been like?
SS: I love the fan community. I am one of the fans so I appreciate when someone is really passionate about something and wants to know things. Of course, I can’t agree with a lot things that people may say or ask about just because I know what David’s point of view is on those things. I always try to be respective of what he wants. I think as far as fans go, I think the fans are great and are diverse and have different opinions and that’s great. If it wasn’t for the fans, I know – not I think, I know – there wouldn’t have been this new series. That’s how important the fans are.
25YL: Any funny stories from set you care to share?
SS: David has a huge sense of humor. He makes me laugh all the time. Michael (David’s assistant), David and I would drive to the set together every day and then drive home together every night. It gave me a chance to go over things with David privately. Most locations were anywhere from a half hour to hour ride. So it gave us plenty of time to talk. Some of those car rides…. I’d be crying I’d be laughing so hard. He’s just so funny. Working with him onset; people love working with him. He’s just a really great person to work with. That always brings a smile to my face too. You want to have a happy crew.
25YL: It’s been said that the cast and crew have a family like bond that you don’t typically hear about in the entertainment industry. I’ve had cast and crew tell me both on and off the record that you still check on them and talk to them not only about their career but their lives as well.
SS: That’s true. They’re all very close friends. It’s very much like a family. We’re even getting together this weekend to celebrate the holidays and see where everyone is. It’s a lot like having friends from college or that you grew up with that you just want to talk to, see how they’re doing. I haven’t had a bad experience with anybody. You feel very close to them and it’s a lot like a family. For me it all comes from David. He makes the set open, inviting, friendly and respectful. Everyone is worthwhile and there for a reason. You feel the warmth and love.
25YL: In a completely hypothetical Season 4, you are picking the musical acts for the Roadhouse. Who plays first?
SS: Probably Angelo. He’s come in and it would be very interesting with him. I love Angelo and I would want him there the first night.
25YL: What has this experience meant to you personally?
SS: I feel very proud that I was able to make it all happen. I was able to get what David wanted onto the screen and help with that process. Whether I facilitated, directly did something or talked to someone who talked to somebody else, I’m just really happy that it’s how he wanted it or as close as we could get to how he wanted it. That to me is very meaningful to me.
25YL: I want to ask you about one rumor. It’s been said that there was at one point a second script or perhaps a vastly different script than what was filmed. Can you debunk that or is there any truth to it?
SS: There’s always ideas that don’t work out. What Showtime ultimately read is what you saw onscreen, with some additions.
25YL: Thank you so much for not only taking the time to speak with me today but also for everything you’ve done. Anything in conclusion you would like to say to those reading this?
SS: Thank you for your support and hopefully you enjoyed the show and appreciate it for what it is. Leave some room for dreaming rather than having all of the answers given to you. I think that’s really important.
Many thanks to Sabrina for all that she’s done for the Twin Peaks community! If you enjoyed this interview, please be sure to check out some of our others! Thanks as always for your support of the site!