FAQs – 2. How’d you come up with an idea like REPO!?

The evolution of REPO!’s story and music, from original concept through the multiple staged productions & into the final feature-length film, has been almost a 10-year journey. With REPO!’s countless spin-off possibilities—comic books, sequels, REPO!-inspired music—I suppose this artistic adventure could continue for another decade, or more (if I let it!).


Because of the gradual development process, REPO!’s tales and tunes have changed a lot over the years. Therefore, it’s difficult to pinpoint precisely that initial creative “spark”…but I’ll give it the ol’ college try:

REPO! has 3 of my favorite things: rock music, dark subject matter, & beautiful women. When I think about artwork that inspires me—the music I listen to, the comics I read—these 3 things are usually present. So, at its core, REPO! is my crack at making something that I would want to see and hear.

REPO! is also an attempt to challenge myself creatively. I played in rock bands in high school and college and always wanted to write music—or create musical sets—that rose above the typical collection of 3-or-so-minute songs. A 21st century opera seemed about the most difficult thing that I could imagine, so I went for it.


More specifically, the story of REPO! sprung out of a 10-minute tale that Darren Smith (REPO!’s co-creator) and I penned during our 10-minute opera days—short stories we’d put to music and perform at L.A cafés and clubs in 1999-2000. We’d write sets of 10-minute operas revolving around themes. One of those themes was Eosaphobia, a fear of the dawn. This parameter inspired me to conceive of the character of GraveRobber, an observer of the underbelly of society whose illegal nocturnal activities made him hide from the light of day.

Attempting to avoid the clichés of typical Victorian melodramas, Darren and I set this tomb-raider’s story in the future, having him pilfer corpses for DNA as opposed to rings or gold fillings.

At the time, Smith had a friend who was going through a bankruptcy and whose possessions were going into foreclosure. Inspired by this, he came up with the brilliant idea of a future where not only your property could be repossessed, but also your body parts.


So, take a grave-robber, an organ repo man, add rock ‘n’ roll music, throw in some hot chicks, & stir it all in an opera pot for about 10 years, and you have the recipe for REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA.

(photos by Enzo Giobbe)

  • Miranda (GRG)

    This comment will sound very cliche, but Repo is one of the greatest things to come into my life. The music and the film alone are amazing, but the entire culture and community I have discovered because of the film has really changed my life. It has given me a creative outlet and a chance to perform, I’ve met some of my best and closest friends (who I’ve only known for a matter of months!). So, thank you a million times over, you and Darren, for creating Repo.

  • Sami

    Wow 10 years and creating an opera no doubt. I tip my hat sir and applauded and give many thanks. My question for you is, Did you ever find yourself exhausted in the middle or the “dry spell” where you almost felt like you couldn’t do more with the project itself. Or did it help creatively to have a co creater to bounce ideas off and keep you thriving to continue on it??

  • Selenne

    awesome, really love the story and the music! is so sad that is not comming out yet in my country.

  • Sierra Stevens

    Repo the Genetic Opera has become a huge part of my life. When you created it, Terrance, and I actually saw it for the first time, the movie basically challenged me to do more creatively and to work harder at my art. I love its music and i listen to the soundtrack ALL the time. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next

  • http://www.thewriteonecs.com Deb Kelley

    My teen daughter and her two best friends are major fans of REPO. We went to the shadow cast movie at Channelside in Tampa and had the opportunity to meet you. Everyone tells you what an amazing writer/actor/artist you are, but I wanted to thank you for being so approachable to your fans. When you see someone as a lead actor on the movie screen and than in real-life, the “fantasy” is often better than the “reality.” The fact that you talked to them, signed my daughter’s mask, took pictures and seemed like a genuinely NICE person, unaffected by your celebrity “God” status with your fans, is truly appreciated. I guarantee you Facebooks all over Tampa have kids quoting having had “the best day of their lives.” :) We are patiently waiting for the sequel.

  • Chelsea Johnson

    Repo is the single most amazing experience of my life. It’s really nice to know that there are other people out there who have similar ideas as to what can be beautiful. I am really proud to be such a small part of such a powerful and beautiful piece of art. I know that by spreading the word of this masterpiece, I am only doing what I can to ensure that Repo! The Genetic Opera gets the respect it deserves. I thank you once again for being so creative that you were able to be the mastermind behind this most wonderful piece of pure art.

  • http://www.myspace.com/rachaelplease Rachael Please

    I suppose the most amazing thing about this story of creation is that it took place slowly over 10 years, amazing! I have never personally been able to show that much commitment to something. To think that you had so much going on in your life at the time, storyboarding, and so much else. That a creation as great as Repo! could come out of 10 years of what I imagine was slightly discombobulated progress. Brilliant! Well done man. You inspire me to no end. Not to mention Repo! is the epitome of badassery.

  • Leah Clayton

    After creating Repo! do you think of things you would have liked to add or change in the movie or music or is it in your mind complete that you couldn’t think of changing a thing about it?

  • Cory

    Hey stupid question ;p did u ever make repo! into a comic series of was it just the artwork and storyboard? how much money do u still need to be able to make the sequel? would u use the original cast? you said you and darren had “discussed several story ideas” does that mean you’d use a different story or continue with original and tell what shilo did after the opera, etc.? Do she and graverobber get together? thanx for your time, hope your amazing work is going well. Have a great day.

  • Squeaky

    This made me have hope for the future of Goth because quite frankly, Hot Topic stopped working a long time ago.
    I love this movie; the blood, surgery, lust, death, and corruption never leaves my mind.. As a model I have also used similar themes in my photos. Please Please Please! Do more work.

    May the eerie winds never change!

  • Bri

    Me and my bf watched Repo! for the first time earlier this week, and I must say, it’s amazing :D I heard something about this being in 3 parts?