The team behind HBO Max docuseries The Way Down: God, Greed & The Cult of Gwen Shamblin debuted footage from its second part at SXSW.
The docuseries, which is directed by Marina Zenovich and exec produced by Chrissy Teigen, launched in September 2021 with three episodes, becoming the streamer’s most-watched docuseries at time of release.
Deadline moderated a panel session at SXSW in Austin, Texas, with the team behind the series, which will launch its final two episodes on April 28 and you can see a clip above.
The story kicked off when “badass story hunter” Nile Cappello was researching female cult leaders and came across Shamblin. She then went to Campfire, which produced the series with Teigen’s Huntley Productions and sold it to HBO Max, which they had already worked with on Heaven’s Gate.
However, just before finishing the series, Gwen Shamblin Lara and her husband died in a plane crash and the team pivoted and produced two more episodes, talking to more people about the controversial Remnant Fellowship Church and its founder.
The team said there was a certain amount of freedom that came with Shamblin’s death and meant they got a lot of incoming calls.
“The need of the participants to tell their story is the most important thing. We didn’t make anyone talk, they wanted to talk,” said Zenovich.
The series explores Shamblin Lara, who rose to fame with her Weigh Down Workshop, a Christian-based diet program, and founded the Tennessee-based church. Despite a carefully curated image, Lara and the church soon fielded accusations of emotional, psychological, and physical abuse, and exploitation for their alleged cult-like practices.
The Way Down looks at the legacy of Remnant’s infamous leader and the second part examines the mysterious circumstances surrounding the cause of the crash and investigation into the aftermath, including new stories from former survivors who felt compelled to share their experience following Shamblin’s death.
The series is directed by Zenovich, who exec produces alongside Teigen, journalist Nile Cappello, Campfire boss Ross Dinerstein, Luke Dillon for 3 Arts Entertainment.
P.G. Morgan, Rebecca Evans and Ross Girard serve as co-exec producers on the series, whose musical is composed by Fleabag’s Isobel Waller Bridge.
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