Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton with Director Alex Cox on the set of Repo Man.
"On the basis of my experiences with Mark Lewis, a real Repo man, I wrote the original script for Repo Man in 1983, but at that time it was a road movie and another rather expensive thing which started off in Los Angeles and went all the way out across New Mexico. It ended up in the city of Truth Or Consequences , New Mexico, for a startling finale involving an atomic bomb which was what was in the trunk of the Chevy at the time. That again looked like it was going to be too expensive so at a certain point I dropped the road movie element and instead concentrated the whole film in Los Angeles and at the same time added the 'what's in the trunk?' gag which is parallel to that of Kiss Me Deadly where you have Mike Hammer with the plot of 'what's in the mysterious box?'" - Alex Cox (from the book Film Anarchist by Steven Davies Batsford )
Once satisfied with the final draft script for Repo Man, the film shopped around for about nine months. Alex was put in touch with ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith who was impressed by the originality of the screenplay and presented the film to Universal Pictures who offered a $1.5 million negative pick-up deal. This meant the film had to be delivered on a certain date and if it was a reasonable facsimile of the original script, the film-makers would get their money for it.
Repo Man was shot in six weeks in Los Angeles in late July and August 1983. Over-budget and over-schedule, Alex Cox and the producers had to ask the crew to work for free for the final three days of the shoot. Every crew member elected to stay on. During the post-production, however, it was decided an additional day and two extra nights shooting were needed.
Repo Man previewed at the Panorama of the Berlin Film Festival in February 1984. Then, a week later, it exploded into American cinemas, immediately registering Alex Cox as one of Britain's most formidable and maverick talents. The film became an instant cult and star-maker for Emilio Estevez.