Cary Fukunaga talks Beasts of No Nation, True Detective, and It
It's the hope of Cary Fukunaga that despite BEASTS OF NO NATION being released on Netflix, people will still make the effort to see it and films like it in theaters; however he also acknowledged that the Netflix release will allow more people to see the movie than if it were given a traditional platform release. Yesterday at the Tribeca Film Festival, the director sat down with former Focus CEO James Schamus for a Directors Series Talk during which he discussed the upcoming Netflix release of BEASTS OF NO NATION:
There's not one white person in it. It's not [Leonardo] DiCaprio saving Africa. It's mainly an African cast. The movie is a very difficult subject. It could easily become one of those films where someone's like, 'That seems too serious, I don't want to watch that again. But I think by nature of the force of Netflix being behind it, it will be in people's faces enough that they'll be like, 'Ok, I'll give it a try.' Hopefully once they start watching it, they'll be consumed by it.
Fukunaga also touched on his fear of films being released online and stressed that consumers still play a role in determining which types of movies play in theaters:
The difficult part of defining yourself as a filmmaker is the concept of releasing a film on a digital platform at the same time its released in cinema really strikes the fear of God in your heart that people are actually still going to go to the cinema to watch the film when if they spend $6 a month they could watch it for free on their laptops. [Beasts of No Nation] was designed to be a film experienced in a group, collectively like this, with strangers in the dark and see this story…Netflix's big thing is consumer choice. So as the audiences start to make that choice and continue to make the choice to only watch online, the cinema experience will only be reserved for comic-book movies. That's the biggest democratic challenge for an art form that you have to ask the audience to be aware of the fact that they are just as responsible for the death of cinema as the people who make it.
While Idris Elba is certainly the biggest name on-screen, Fukunaga spoke at length about the lead boy in the film, 14-year-old Abraham Attah. Attah was basically a street vendor before Fukunaga recruited him along several other local boys to portray the child soldiers. Cary Fukunaga was astounded at the development of Attah, who went from knowing nothing about acting to being able to do an intense scene with several other kids in which Fukunaga didn't have to offer any direction in just a couple of months.
Many people at the Tribeca Talk were eager to hear the director speak about True Detective, and Fukunaga did not disappoint as he revealed the incredible amount of work that he and his team had to do in order to pull the whole thing off, especially as the final three episodes had not been planned when filming began.
It’s actually frightening because you’re starting shooting and you haven’t had the chance to plan anything yet [for the end of the series]. And so we basically planned in pre-production for True Detective… the first five episodes, really. But 6, 7 and 8 had to be planned while we were shooting; there was no hiatus, so it just meant we had to double up our work: Before a shooting day, we’d go scouting, tech scouting. At lunch, we’d have production meetings. After shooting, we’d go see new locations. [This is on top of] a 12- to 14-hour day. At night, I’d go meet with the editors, try to get the first couple episodes locked up. Saturdays, more scouting. It just meant you did what you would have done normally in 8 weeks on the tops and ends and bottoms of days.
Another interesting tidbit Fukanaga revealed was that the interrogation/interview scenes which are spread throughout the series were shot all at once over the course of three days; that's all of Matthew McConaughey's scenes and all of Woody Harrelson’s scenes, for the entire season. Wow. When Schamus commented that it must have been a nightmare keeping continuity with the cigarettes and aluminum cans Fukanaga responded saying that "whenever I see that again in the future I'm immediately cutting that out."
In regards to IT, which Fukanaga will be splitting into two films, the director stated that they're eight weeks away from the filming commencing in New York but didn't give much more information beyond saying that the image he remains fixed upon is "that white face in the sewer…poor little Georgie being sucked down in the ground." He also said that IT would mark the end of his series of movies in which child characters die onscreen as he's wanting to move on to "much more pleasant fare." Last we heard Fukanaga was still searching for the perfect person to play Pennywise.
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