Loren Yaconelli directed the premiere episode of The Walking Dead: Dead City, which is the fourth spinoff series in The Walking Dead universe. As no stranger to TWDU, as she has directed episodes of The Walking Dead and World Beyond, she was eager to be part of the Dead City world. In a Q&A session with AMC, Yaconelli discusses being part of Maggie & Negan’s reintroduction.
Dead City’s first episode was aptly titled “Old Acquaintances,” as it reacquainted Maggie and Negan, characters reprised by Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan from the flagship series. These characters have long histories in the main series. Maggie began her story in season 2, Negan in season 6, and Dead City continues those stories several years after The Walking Dead’s final episode.
Yaconelli was asked how it felt to direct the series’ first episode.
"I felt so completely fortunate to be able to direct that first episode, especially based around two characters that are so compelling and have such an interesting history. The story was so rich, and the world was so fun to get into creating, so I felt really lucky to be able to do it… It’s such a fascinating world, and The Walking Dead has been such a part of my television watching for so long. So given the chance to be part of it, I really jumped at it. – Loren Yaconelli"
She said that creating a post-apocalyptic Manhattan was a group effort where they used films like Escape from New York and The Warriors, which featured dystopian NYC backdrops, as inspiration. Showrunner Eli Jorné and the other creators wanted to stay true to The Walking Dead while creating something unique to Dead City at the same time.
The Walking Dead: Dead City season 1
AMC asked how she would decide whose scene it was when multiple actors were featured. She replied that The Walking Dead has created such human stories with the characters, an element that is fascinating to her. She believes the way that series played things out, “there are no more heroes and villains really. They’re all survivors.” With Maggie and Negan both damaged in different ways, yet both surviving, she believes they are incredibly watchable and have electricity on screen.
Her favorite scene from episode one was Perlie Armstrong’s introduction.
"For me, the introduction of Armstrong [Gaius Charles] when he comes into the bar and terrorizes everyone — that was just such a fun day to do and the actors were so good — the performances were so fun to watch. It just ended up being one of my favorite scenes in the whole show. You could feel the tension of the scene and it worked really well. We choreographed it with the camera movement. That scene told you so much about Armstrong and created this painful amount of tension moving forward, which was just really effective. -Loren Yaconelli"
The Walking Dead: Dead City will air new episodes weekly on AMC on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET. AMC+ subscribers can watch new episodes three days early on Thursdays. The season finale will air on July 23. AMC hasn’t announced it, but rumor has it the series is set to continue with a second season.