Benh Zeitlin ’04, director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, and producer Dan Janvey ’06 joined Director of the Cinema Archives and Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger on Nov. 12 for a free-wheeling Q&A on the making of their indie hit, Beasts of the Southern Wild. The talk took place in the Goldsmith Family Cinema.
They began by showing a segment on the making of the film—“a world premiere,” they noted, adding that it will be included on the DVD when the film is released for home viewing. Currently the Sundance and Cannes award-winner is still showing in theaters and picking up Oscar-buzz. Zeitlin and Janvey provided candid answers on their background in the Film Studies department (teamwork was always key), grassroots methods of casting (similar to the Obama campaign), the rigors of the filming process in Louisiana (“like climbing Mount Everest”), the rewriting required to shoot the film only in the day (avoiding the costs of the lights and accommodating the young age of the main character), and the slow, organic process of joining the community, earning peoples’ trust, and winning cooperation.
“Every part of the process of making this film informed the next part,” explained Janvey. Stories people told were incorporated into the film, and new local friends became cast and crew. Said Zeitlin: “It’s my very favorite part of the film process, getting to meet a place you’d never get to know otherwise. It’s the universal quality of film—everybody loves movies; it’s a great way to explore the world.”
For further information, see this Wesleyan Magazine story.
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