Written by Shona Smith on Jan 19, 2021. Posted in Production News

Oklahoma based Taika Waititi pilot ordered to series

The half-hour comedy series from Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo Reservation Dogs follows four Native teenagers in rural Oklahoma who spend their days committing crime and fighting it. The pilot filmed in Oklahoma in September 2020, and has since been ordered to series by FX.

The series was co-written by Oscar winning director, producer and actor Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnorok) and Native American filmmaker Sterlin Harjo (Mekko, Barking Water). Harjo and Waititi both serve as executive producers alongside Garrett Basch (What We do in the Shadows, The Night Of).

Harjo will direct Reservation Dogs and says “I’ve shot most of my projects in Oklahoma. I believe that stories are baked into the red dirt here. Magic, darkness and light. I just want to be an extension of storytellers from this place. Like Joy Harjo, Will Sampson, Woody Guthrie, Wanda Jackson and all the other great storytellers that lived, bled and danced on this land.”

The pilot episode had primary hubs in Okmulgee and Tulsa Country and hired over one hundred local crew members for the six day shoot in September 2020. Historic buildings in the picturesque town of Okmulgee featured heavily in the pilot along with locations in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s second largest city and the rural town of Beggs.

The Oklahoma Film & Music Office (OF+MO) estimates that the pilot episode of Reservation Dogs generated USD3.2 million direct in-state spending on crew, lodging, supplies and rentals.

“We are thrilled to have been a part of this pilot alongside like-minded community partners, such as the Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts & Culture, Tulsa-based MCI Labs and leadership in Okmulgee and Beggs, to effectively support this high-caliber production,” said OF+MO Director Tava Maloy Sofsky. “It has always been a goal of our office to attract a multi-season television series to our state because of the longevity of the economic benefits. We hope Oklahoma will continue to play a part in the series as it moves forward into production after the pilot episode’s filming in our state.”

Oklahoma reopened to filming in May 2020 when motion picture and recording was deemed an essential business. Reservation Dogs is on of thirty productions to shoot in Oklahoma since May 2020 which were supported by health and safety protocols and testing.  Productions currently filming in Oklahoma include God's Not Dead 4 and Guardians of Time. 

Film, television and commercial productions shooting in Oklahoma can benefit from a 35-37% cash rebate on qualifying Oklahoma expenditure. There is no per-project cap but each production must there are minimum budget requirements to access the scheme.


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