About The Film (Continued)
A TONE OF NATURALISM
The screenplay was written with a sense of naturalism pervading the
storyline, as the characters reveal themselves with abilities and flaws.
During production, that tone was emphasized with direction, camera moves,
Recalls producer Horowitz, "We looked at some European humanism like the
Dardenne brothers, for capturing people and can we capture that naturalism
and put it against a backdrop of something that's a bit more genre?
'Children of Men' was a touchstone; again, there's a naturalism set against
a genre backdrop in that. A number of contemporary pictures set character
in front of bigger worlds that are built for those pictures."
He elaborates, "When I say naturalism or humanism, I mean behavioral
authenticity, people behaving the way people behave, letting them be
damaged, letting them be broken, letting them sort of sit in frames and
observing them and not trying to get in the way of that, and sort of following
where that leads."
The cinematography is subtly stylized with frames very deliberately
"I knew Julia would be great with the actors, which she is, but what I'm
finding out is that she has great style. She's impeccable with details. Every
frame is framed beautifully. It's really got a kind of Coen brothers look to it,
were every frame is like a piece of art," maintains producer Liddell. "She just
frames in a really interesting way. There's things you notice in the back of
the frame or the front or the side, that really tell a story -- the signs of
drought, the lack of water, the clothes that aren't quite clean. And so you
need less dialogue. It's not necessarily only landscapes and big wides, but
you can feel it when she goes close too -- in the wardrobe, in the dust, in
the sweat. You could probably watch two or three frames of the film and get
a good sense of what it's about, like with the Coen brothers."
Cinematographer Michael Fimognari proposed the idea of shooting nights
differently depending on which characters are in the scene. Explains
producer Horowitz, "When we are with the women, we shoot a lot of our
night wide shots at dusk so you can see deeper into that world. It's a very
blue, very deep field of view. Our exteriors are wider and deeper and bluer.
But when we aren't with the three women, when we're with Ruth in the first
act, our blacks just go to black. You really can't see past the one spot that's
been lit with a practical light. Everything else falls to black. It's pitch
THE MUSIC: FROM PUNK TO JAZZ
Music references and album covers were part of "Fast Color" from the
screenplay onward. During the movie's production, music supervisor Dan
Wilcox was already on board and working on clearances for material by Nina
Simone, Lauryn Hill, Joan Jett, and others.
"No matter what kind of music you like," proposes director Hart, "you like
Nina. Nina Simone is an absolute favorite of mine and I'm so excited that
we're going to have her record album and one of her songs. You start to talk
about female power and the power of women of color; she to me is a
superhero. I love Lauryn Hill too. She was very influential to me."
Lead actress Gugu Mbatha-Ray was on the exact same wavelength: "I grew
up listening to Nina Simone and Lauryn Hill. They were huge parts of my
childhood so I was already very familiar with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
and a lot of Nina Simone's music. I wasn't so familiar with X-Ray Spex and
that punk rock style of music. That was something that Julia introduced me
to. It has a different energy entirely but really fun. I created a playlist of
own of music to inspire me for this role: it's all of those women, plus some
Prince, Bob Dylan's 'Like a Rolling Stone,' which to me epitomizes the early
part of Ruth's journey when she's out there on the run, some Coldplay, India
Likewise, actress Lorraine Toussaint responded to the choices: "Oh, Nina
Simone. I grew up with Nina Simone. My mom loved jazz and loved Nina.
There is a line in the script that says, 'No matter what kind of music you
like, you've gotta love Nina.' Nobody does 'Mississippi Goddamn' like Nina
Simone. That kind of volatile creativity that she was! That kind of
commitment to her power and her artistry and her rage. Nina is awesome!"
Concurs actor Christopher Denham, "One of my favorite parts of this film is
the musical references -- Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, X-Ray Spex. These
musicians can empower a woman to have a voice in the world. I would add
Blondie to the mix. Blondie is a force of nature. And Chrissie Hynde! Women
who are willing to completely defy a male-defined convention that they have
to fit a certain mold, that they are only allowed to have an artistic voice if
they have a certain sexuality, a certain deportment and dress. They said,
'No, let's completely forget about that. My voice matters. My true power
comes from my art, not how a man defines my art.'"
Producer Horowitz confides, "Julia and I are very into music. This picture
a lot of music in different places. We talked about what would the end of the
world sound like? It sounds like a lot of things. There's some Seattle grunge
in the gas station. There is some punk rock. There's some Nina Simone at
the farmhouse. There's some country in the bar. The movie will open with
some electronic-like death metal. There's a real wide palette of music. We
wanted to do that in terms of world building. Especially in the first act as we
go to a number of different places, and what people have held onto and dug
into in their particular niches that are left in the world. They're very
and deep, and as we traverse that landscape there are a bunch of different
sonic palettes. Hopefully that will give the world a bit more scope."
Surmises producer Liddell, "What I think is so brilliant about the music, is
that they are all rebels. I think this movie is a great rebel movie. It's about
not standing down, and standing up for who you are, and what you're here
to do. I think all those women in their time were going against the grain. I
think incredible music and incredible art comes out of really tough times. I
hear Nina Simone's voice to take me through this journey."
DISINTEGRATING OBJECTS AND FAST COLORS
The disintegrating objects and other actions that illustrate the characters'
special powers were filmed with special effects during production, then
completed during post-production by visual effects supervisor Chris LeDoux
of Crafty Apes VFX.
For the disintegrating objects, LeDoux created 3D models of the objects, and
then used software to disintegrate the models. His idea was, "We will
recreate reality and how substances and elements actually respond to
different physical forces as you apply them. So we did a virtual
disintegration that responded properly to the different elements." LeDoux
undertook those simulations with a delicate brush so they would fulfill the
director's priority that they have an organic feel to them and seem natural.
Creating the streaks of fast-moving colors was more complex. LeDoux used
the aurora borealis as the physical basis for the visual reference, and then
manipulated it into three dimensions.
"It's one thing to make the aurora borealis in the sky," suggests LeDoux.
"We can recreate that fairly quickly. But that is so far away that it almost
feels two-dimensional to us. But what if that came closer and had three
dimensions? What does that look like? How does it move? How does it
integrate with the environment? Does it reflect things? Since it's from the
point of view of people, does it not take on certain aspects of the
environment? I think what you'll find is in every scene where we see it, it
acts a little differently and is customized for that scene. And it will reflect
character and the emotions of the character who is seeing it."
While most people notice the color green when they see the aurora borealis,
there are nights when pinks, purples, and reds appear. "I think we were a
little more open with the palette," relates LeDoux. "These colors swirl.
Imagine if you could visualize wind, for example. Imagine if the streaks of
wind are different colors and they hit each other and mix and form new
colors. Almost as if you had paints and you started to streak them together.
We put a lot of research and development into this, and came up with
something highly unique."
The source of the mysterious streaks of color that accompany some of the
acts of special power is purposely left open for interpretation.
Mbatha-Raw believes, "The colors are about the harmony of understanding
your power and also love."
According to Toussaint, "They're energetic flashes of color."
Offers Sidney, "The flashes of color symbolize the women's connection and
belief in the power of the universe."
Strathairn shrugs, "Dean has no idea what the flashes of color symbolize. No
idea. He may have seen a few rainbows in his life. Those are pretty cool."
Actor Denham believes, "You see what you want to see. My takeaway is that
it's an expression of the women's power, which is a distinctly female power,
which is creative rather than destructive."
Producer Liddell suggests, "I think the colors symbolize life and God and all
the things that are really good in the world, and at this time in this film
everyone has lost all of that."
Proposes producer Shilaimon, "The colors represent love."
Suggests executive producer Glassman, "I think they symbolize finally
letting go and being in the moment."
Contends producer Horowitz, "The color is enlightenment."
The way director Hart envisions it, "The women's artistic expressions are
their abilities. The colors are the passion and the affirmation of that work."
THEMES THAT RESONATE
The movie's underlying themes ruminated throughout filming, as everyone
mulled over the unique material.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw confides, "I love the idea of owning your own power. I
think that's something that as women in our culture we are still struggling
with. A lot of women apologize for or are uncomfortable about being strong.
Society doesn't always celebrate strong women as much as they do men.
For me that's really important as a theme. Mothers and daughters -- that's
always a complicated dynamic."
Lorraine Toussaint responded most to the idea that, "The film is about
motherhood and the lengths we go to to protect our children, to take care of
them, to keep them safe, including the extraordinary length of self-sacrifice.
And then you have to let your children go. They become what they were
meant to become. And suddenly they are leading you. I love that aspect of
Young Saniyya Sidney came away thinking, "To show off your strength is the
best thing in the world. To tell people that you're really strong and you don't
For David Strathairn, the theme that resonated most was, "It's about
families that have difficulties, and how they navigate that and negotiate
Christopher Denham also believes, "'Fast Color' is about family, at the end
of the day. The elements of the supernatural and magic are sort of
peripheral to the heart of the story, which is about these three generations
of women that are passing along this power. In some ways, it's about every
family -- it's about the things we're running away from in our families and
the things we embrace in our families. It's a variation on a theme that we
can all relate to, which is family."
Producer Pete Shilaimon considers, "It's about forgiveness. You can do some
crazy, crazy stuff in your past. Bo's daughter has caused an immense
amount of damage, an immense amount of distress, but it's about
Likewise, producer Mickey Liddell concludes, "It's a redemption story. It's
the story of Ruth and she has some special abilities that have been passed
down in her family. I think for Ruth this was very exciting at the beginning
and it was something that she felt really made her an individual, but she felt
like she didn't have control over it. I think it scares all of us to not have
control over anything, and I think she just ran away from everything. We
pick up as she's entering back into the world. There are people after her and
also she has to resolve what she ran away from and confront it with her
mom and her daughter, and become who really Ruth was meant to be."
For executive producer Michael Glassman, the film's essential message is,
"Appreciate what you are lucky enough to have, even if life has dealt you a
As producer/cowriter Jordan Horowitz reflects about the film, "The creative
powers over destructive powers, that's something that really resonates. I
think the idea of people seeing each other, empathy and forgiveness; those
are really important themes for me in this work. There's themes of what it is
to be a mother, what it is to be a child. The idea of what it is to be a parent
really resonated for us. The humanistic qualities of the work are themes that
really resonate for me."
What director/cowriter Julia Hart thought about most was, "It's really hard
being a woman in this world. We're objectified, we're judged, we're
underestimated, and this film is about the lasting impact that those societal
repressions have on women and how we have to take control and fight back
and not reject our power the way society wants us to, but embrace it,
because I think if anybody is going to save this world, it's women."
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