ORIGINS: “‘Beasts’ came to life after (director) Benh (Zeitlin) started exploring the bayou communities of southern Louisiana,” Janvey says. “The writing process was as much about hearing people’s stories, getting to know the geography of the region.”
FUNDING: Backed by Cinereach, with grant support from the San Francisco Film Society, Rooftop Films, Eastern Effects and NHK/Sundance, as well as Louisiana tax incentives.
HIGH HURDLES: “We wanted to shoot the entire film on location, have pyrotechnics, in-camera special effects, creature creation with baby pot-bellied pigs and a very complex vfx composite sequence as the climax of the film. On top of this our cast was completely non-professional. We were shooting in harsh physical landscapes in Louisiana summer heat, and for many of us this was our first feature film. We also had many elements of the shoot that were weather dependent. The BP oil spill happened on the first day of photography, and we had to negotiate to get access to many of our key water locations.”
DOMINO EFFECT: “When we auditioned Quvenzhane (Wallis), we felt confident that we could place the movie on her small shoulders. From there, we set out for a search for her father, and after auditioning many trained actors, we knew that Dwight Henry was the perfect man for the role of Wink. The chemistry between the two was palpable, and we knew that together they would form an unforgettable duo.”