This week we got the very special opportunity to speak with the filmmakers of 2020’s most impactful horror film. This is for sure to divide audiences. We hope a lot of people give it a watch tomorrow on Premium Videos on Demand.
AJ:Hey guys, how are you doing?
Bush+Renz:Doing well and you?
AJ:Doing fantastic. Well, guys, first thing is first. Congratulations on Antebellum. How did this movie come about?
Bush+Renz:It started as a nightmare that I had in October of all months, of 2017. And I call it a nightmare because I can’t really think of another category to articulate accurately what the experience was. My eyes were closed, it was nighttime, it was a terrible dream, but I wasn’t the star of the dream. I was observing this woman, Eden, who eventually I learned was the same woman as Veronica. That was the nightmare. And I woke up and was so shook by it, as the kids say that I wrote, you know, the notes of the finer points of the nightmare. And the next day I discussed it with C, Renz and then we put pen to paper and wrote a short story, but we never, at that point, we only intended to publish it as a short story. And then Zev Forman who eventually became the producer on the project ahead of the QC guys from Get Out and Us, he said, this needs to be a movie. And that’s when we wrote the script and we finished the first draft of that in February of 2018.
AJ:Yeah. I was going to say this movie kind of had an impact on me, stuff like Candyman, stuff like Get Out. So how was it like having the producer from Get Out and Us helping you guys produce this Antebellum film as well?
Bush+Renz:That’s really interesting. I mean, those, you know, those guys are very smart, very smart about genre and we can be pretty classic in a way, in our writing style and our, you know, and it can be a bit, actually, I don’t want to say that poetic, but I don’t mean that in a self-congratulatory way, but yeah, but they know sort of, I love Easter eggs. Christopher loves Easter eggs in movies. We love discovery. We love the series of deductions that are those films and, you know, Sean and Ray, they were incredible partners in contributing in their ideas around, you know, these fun moments, moments of levity right in the movies. Yeah.
AJ:And how was the casting process because guys, Janelle Monae in this film absolutely crushed it. I mean, she is Oscar caliber in this movie. So how was it like getting the casting done for Antebellum?
Bush+Renz:Well, we are lucky because I’m from the South, I’m from Texas and Christopher’s from Connecticut, but I relate very well to Southern people. And Laray Mayfield is a tall glass of water, but she’s really Jack Daniels straight with no chaser. And she is straight to the point. Our casting director, we share a casting, she’s actually the casting director for Venture and Us, but she made some recommendations. But Janelle, we saw her, we were watching the Grammy’s from home in 2018 and yes, she had given an extraordinary performance on stage, but with her sitting in the audience, observing someone stoically, but you could see this furnace that was burning so bright that it was reaching the surface of her face. And right then and there we said, oh my God, that could be our Veronica Eden.So that’s how that happened. And the script, you know, we didn’t expect people to react, the casts such a, you know, best in class talent to respond the way that they did around the script. There is a voracious appetite for actors in Hollywood that want to do films that matter and say something. So when you give them a piece of material that they feel like they can be a part of that conversation, they take to it. They really do.
AJ:Right, and when I was watching this and when I was critiquing it, I was like, man, this is kind of like the film, The Village. Trying so hard to be like, so were there any inspirations in the filmmaking aspect? You had talked about how this was like a nightmare that you had, but when you were filming it, were there any films that you went to that kind of had an impact on the way you directed Antebellum?
Bush+Renz:Gone with the Wind was definitely a huge inspiration because as a black American, I think of Gone with the Wind as a horror film. But we went and obtained the lenses after an exhaustive search for the Gone with the Wind lenses, and we shot the movie on those lenses.
AJ:Oh, wow, that’s really interesting.
Bush+Renz:Yeah, we were determined to correct the record of that beautiful propaganda by creating something new and more accurate of the depiction of the Antebellum South. We’re also obsessed with the seventies cannon of thriller horror. So we love The Stepford Wives, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Eyes of Laura Mars. This is so many, The Exorcist, so many incredible films that came out of the seventies cannon. So, you know, we always, I think you can’t help it as a filmmaker, as an artist to be informed by such great work that came before you. And you’re trying so hard to create something that feels like it can inhabit its own lane and create its own set of conversations. We love M. Night, but we were not in any way inspired by him. It was just the nightmare that I had and that’s what we put on paper, and that’s what we made.
AJ:Yeah, and this year in itself has kind of been a nightmare too where COVID has kind of pushed these films back. So how do you guys, kind of, react to Antebellum coming on premium video-on-demand? Because even though it’s not that ultimate cinematic experience, I know myself, I deal with anxiety. So sometimes I may not go out to a theater right away to see a film like Antebellum, but with it being on premium video-on-demand, I would be willing to pay that 20 bucks to be able to watch at home. So how is your kind of viewpoint on how streaming is changing at this time?
Bush+Renz:Well, yeah, see, this is interesting to me because COVID has wreaked havoc on all of us. I think that Christopher and I were definitely traumatized that we, this movie that we put our blood, sweat and tears into, to have in the theaters that that wasn’t going to happen, but it also felt really inappropriate to sulk about it. When there are lines wrapped around for miles at food banks and people just trying to keep a roof over their heads and businesses going belly up left and right, the country is in turmoil. So for us, we felt like the last thing we wanted to do was to deliver this thrill, the medicine within this thrill, in a movie theater for people to turn around and get sick. We weren’t going to do that. That’s irresponsible. And I do not mean to disparage Christopher Nolan or any of these other great filmmakers.They make their choices, and I know that he was well intentioned because he wants to support theaters as do we. But there was just too much COVID happening in America. People would be swimming in COVID. We know about staying in these closed spaces and the air conditioners. There’s just so much that we don’t know, but I also think that we’ve opened up Pandora’s box. And I don’t think that we’re going to be able to put that genie back in the bottle. I think that, you know, people are going to demand, no pun intended, a different access point or access opportunities for their movies. I don’t know how long it’s going to take us. I’m super nervous all the time. When I go out and I, you know, when I come back home from an event or something I’ve done, I review the experience for, was there any time that I got too close to someone?Was there something that, you know, and it’s just the anxiety, sorry, that we’re dealing with, you know, so, but I think that it’s going to be a long time before people get back to normal. Where people feel comfortable with going back to the theater. And so we’ve got to design these experiences with the idea that many of them are going to happen at home. And I think that we’re going to have to, when I look at Lionsgate and what our studio partner has done, you know, they are treating Antebellum like an event movie. When you think about the spend and, and you also, when I think about all of the publicity around Antebellum, which quite frankly, we didn’t expect all of this, you know, good, bad or indifferent, you know, it’s a really polarizing movie that’s causing a lot of conversation. So people I think are really eager to see what the conversation is about and so that they can join in it. And I think that they’ll feel much safer and better about doing that from the confines, the safety of their own home.
AJ:Well, thank you so much for joining us at infamous horrors . It’s been really fun talking with you today.
Bush+Renz:Yeah. Thanks for having us and stay safe and healthy out there and, you know, hope all you join in on Antebellum this Friday.