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SUPERFLY

Production Information
MAKING ATLANTA SUPERFLY

As Director X is one of the most innovative and visually inventive filmmakers in the music video world, it's no surprise that his watchword was to bring style. He explains, "My philosophy for the entire film is everything is super fly: the lighting, the camera movements, the clothing, the sets, the cars, the guns and the actors. Everything you see is a little fly-er than normal. I want people in the movie theaters to ask, 'Where'd they get that?' 'That's so cool. 'Look at that!' It's a wave of cool stuff flying at you constantly for two hours as you enjoy the ride."

Where the original Super Fly was set in Harlem, the new film is set in Atlanta. Seen by many as the "capital of the South," Atlanta has seen a renaissance and now serves as a cultural center, with a kinetic mix of music, sports, film and television entertainment interwoven throughout its streets.

"Harlem was the epicenter of black culture," says X. "It was what the whole world heard and thought of. The clubs in Harlem were famous worldwide. Even the drug dealers in Harlem were famous worldwide. It was really what Atlanta is today - if you're an artist in Atlanta and you've got a hit record, you've got a hit record around the world. When we're telling this story for today, we're placing it in the epicenter of today's black culture. There is no question that it has to be Atlanta."

Silver, who spent time in Atlanta in 2016 during production on The Nice Guys starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Goslin, was immediately smitten with the diversity and charm of the city. "I was really intrigued by the city. It's an incredible panorama of urban life," he says. "I really felt the energy and excitement of the city, and the thrilling nature of the music scene and the clubs, and I just thought that this was where Superfly should take place."

Production Design

Veteran production designer Graham Grace Walker was charged with bringing all of these aspects of the city to life on film. From the sexy Masquerade Club or Priest's modern home, it would be up to Walker to visualize the film's diverse backdrop. "Superfly was a huge challenge from the very beginning and thanks to a very efficient art department and construction team, we were able to help bring the film visually to life," he says. "In the end there are some outstanding sets and locations I am very proud of."

One of the more attention-grabbing landscapes Walker would design is the Masquerade club. Filmed inside the baroque-themed Atlanta nightclub Opera in Midtown, Walker, set decorator Kristen D. Walker, and their team would spend several weeks preparing the site for filming by integrating some of the existing décor into a seductive adult playground reminiscent of an eye-popping Cirque du Soleil performance.

In the hands of X, the club becomes an elevated, fantastical circus that overloads the senses on every level. A vibrant harmony of flashing lights, thumping, rhythmic beats, beautiful tactile fabrics mix with luxurious shine, glitter and smooth cool surfaces, all showcasing stunning women of every ethnicity, sexily clad in masks and little else. Darkly lit corners allow for more intimate interactions while dancers perform on stage. Above it all, scantily clad aerialists perform suspended by red silk fabric.

Costume Design

In the original film, furs, suits, hats and sexy attire were memorable and integral to portraying a time and place. X wanted his film to showcase an equally timely mix of modern style. X himself brought a point of view and opinion to each and every character's look, and to bring it about he had a close collaboration with costume designer Antoinette Messam, translating and integrating a finely tuned aesthetic into their new incarnation of Superfly.

From a costume design standpoint, Messam's approach is always to help build each character with a tailored design story. While the fashions of the original Super Fly admittedly had a huge cultural impact, Messam saw the attitude and a rebellious independence, which resonated with her; for example, the original Priest, played by actor Ron O'Neal, may have rocked a fur coat, silk shirts and fedora, but it was his confidence that pulled the look off - his look helped further the story. "One of the things that was really amazing about the original Super Fly was that Priest was such a presence, and his look complemented it all," she says. "That's what was important to me as I began to work on the costume design for a contemporary audience. It was about the overall look and tone we established for a host of characters."

An entire world of culture was open to Messam in her designs. "It was important to me and X that the overall costume design for the film was super fly on its own, that each look had an intent that spoke about its character while being modern and not necessarily beholden to one place or a certain style," she says.

Trevor Jackson is well over six feet and sports straight, slicked back hair. To augment this new look, Messam opted to give the smooth, cool character an unexpected design story: he would have well-edited, sophisticated, fashion-forward pieces from the likes of Phillip Plein, AllSaints, and Burberry. Jackson's tall, lithe frame allowed Messam the luxury of outfitting him in almost anything she pulled and it would fit the bill.

From suede Balenciaga boots worn with a Daniels New York shearling coat to a Fear of God black leather coat worn over an AllSaints Balmorro Blazer, Messam and her team would source hundreds of items to build Priest's wardrobe.

Eddie's ebullient personality belies a lethal strategist; his wardrobe was full of statement pieces to illustrate the showman in him. Mitchell would sport a Beaver fur coat from Henig Furs (the go-to furrier in Atlanta), GStar jeans, and even a John Varvatos leopard print leather jacket.

Mitchell couldn't have been happier with the end result. "The costumes in Superfly are super, super dope," he says. "I'm wearing everything from fur coats to Rolexes. Everything about Superfly is over the top. We've got the whips [expensive cars], we've got Rick Ross' house, we've got everything."

Jacob Ming-Trent was also coveting the clothes but he also saw the bigger tableau X and Messam were creating. "Antoinette's costume design is unbelievable," he says. "I was even eyeing some of the clothes for myself during our fittings. The costumes, the shoes, the jewelry, it all makes you want to live this life. Once you see the money, the luxury cars, the huge sprawling estates, and the beautiful people - it all brings you further into the story. Then, of course, it pulls you back - 'Oh, there's a bigger cost to this, and it's not the price tag.'"

Due to fast-paced pre-production and filming schedule, Messam would use every tool and connection in her arsenal to produce a layered mix of designer pieces peppered with fashion-savvy affordable garments to create an enviable mix of styles. This high-low approach of fashion selects would include a who's who of fashion - Balenciaga, Tom Ford, Gucci, Valentino, Versace, and the hip label Fear of God, alongside Zara, H&M and Topshop.

Messam was also given an exciting canvas to explore the women characters. Davis says that as Georgia, she was able to explore a look a bit more extravagant than she goes for in real life. "Georgia is a little more glam than me so once I'm in her clothes, I do feel more glamorous. It gives you that extra push when you're all done up in hair and make-up.

Messam would further the dichotomy between Georgia and Cynthia by giving them equally sexy looks with wholly different approaches. "I love that there is a contrast between what Georgia and Cynthia are wearing," says Davis. "Both are very glamorous, but in two different ways. Cynthia is very glamorous, but with a street twist, whereas Georgia is edgy and takes risks in a New-York-Fashion-Week way. It's nice to see both of these women with two completely different styles that reflect their characters."

In contrast to Georgia, Cynthia shows off by wearing body hugging clothes with bold colors and sparkly bling. A changing rotation of hair colors - red, blue, pink - accentuate it all.

One of the bigger design challenges for Messam was working with the all white color palette for the high profile Sno Patrol. Their outlandish, in your face style is punctuated by lots of bling, expensive luxury cars, and expansive mansions, all in their signature color of white.

Working within the limited color palette, Messam would still give each Sno Patrol member their own individual vibe and she sometimes found inspiration in the unlikeliest of places. "The looks for Sno Patrol actually have some Japanese elements," she says. "We added unstructured shapes and textures to mix it up. You definitely have your street vibe, but I also wanted pieces that were not necessarily urban. The color is the unifying element, but each character's personality still came through in their costume. It was important that they all looked like individuals, just all in white."

The filmmakers would even carry over the color motif by enlisting property master Mark Wallace to source white weapons. Luckily, there were several manufacturers who actually could produce white weapons for filming.

The Cars

Picture car coordinator Casey Richter would round out the opulence of the Superfly imagery with a fleet of luxury vehicles that crossed a broad spectrum.

Priest's sleek sophisticated style would be visualized by a dark grey 2018 Lexus I500, while Eddie races his flashy silver 2016 Audi R8 Spyder through the streets of Atlanta.

As the capo of Sno Patrol, Q rocked many high-end vehicles, from a 2017 Rolls-Royce Wraith to a 2016 Mercedes s550 sitting on custom Forgiato wheels, while the remainder of his crew chose to flaunt their white Range Rovers and Lamborghinis. On any given day Richter, would have hundreds of thousands of dollars of high-end vehicles on set. For one particular scene, in which Priest collects an overdue payment from one of his dealers, Richter had a garage full of eye candy, including a $740,000 Lamborghini Aventador SuperVeloce and a $300,000 Lamborghini Murcielago, I640 among others.

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