You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Meet the Women Behind the Camera on Dee Rees’ ‘Mudbound’

To tell the story of “Mudbound,” director Dee Rees surrounded herself with strong women behind the camera.

Angie Wells

Wells met Rees as a makeup artist on her press tour for “Bessie.” “One day I let her know, I just don’t do personal calls. I run makeup departments,” says Wells, who works on the TV show “Black-ish.” She got the call for “Mudbound” a few weeks later. “We talked about authenticity and realness of the looks,” says Wells, who headed a department of 13 people. “This wasn’t one of those ‘It’s supposed to look rugged, but people are too pretty.’ Dee wanted realism, and I appreciated that.”

Rachel Morrison
Director of Photography

Morrison (“Fruitvale Station”) knew Rees from the indie festival circuit, where they developed mutual respect. “She was intent on frames that were bursting at the seams,” Morrison says about creating the look for the film, “contrasting isolation with clutter and claustrophobia and the American dream as this unattainable thing.” Despite a grueling shoot, she described “Mudbound” as a calm set. “It always felt like there was a focus. I get the impression that women are really good multitaskers.”


“Mudbound” is the first score from the underground rock singer-songwriter. She wrote the entire music for the film in five weeks in post-production. “I don’t know how I did it,” she says about the 10-hour days. “I lost hair. I gained weight. I think it’s such a testament to Dee’s leadership qualities. The project was pretty tight and intense.” The soundtrack isn’t specific to a period. “Dee talked about trying again, slipping, falling, things of this nature. We were using a lot of descriptive language to set the stage.”

Pud Cusack
Sound Engineer

“There were no trees,” Cusack says of the film’s New Orleans location. “Even though there was rain, I felt the layers of wind and lightning and thunder would help build intensely to the drama that was happening. A lot of the challenges besides the terrain were the different levels for the actors, only because there was so much trauma. And there was obviously the physical challenges of getting the equipment in and out every day. All the cabins had no cover. We had to build trailers.”

Mako Kamitsuna

Rees collaborated with Kamitsuna on “Pariah,” but the offer to edit “Mudbound” was a surprise. “I’m a writer-director too,” Kamitsuna says. “I was talking to her to take a look at my screenplay. It kind of came up. And of course, I can’t say no to Dee.” They knew each other’s shorthand. “She has a very definitive voice,” Kamitsuna says. The decision to employ women wasn’t an accident. “She really wanted to prove something with female creative professionals creating this story.”

(Pictured, clockwise from left: Angie Wells, Rachel Morrison, Tamar-kali, Pud Cusack, Mako Kamisuna)

More Film

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" in

    Writers Guild Makes It Official: This Is the Most Wide-Open Oscars Race Ever

    For the record, we’re in uncharted territory this Oscar season. While we still have the costume designers’ ceremony to get through on Tuesday, the Writers Guild Awards put a bow on the major guild kudos circuit Sunday night. The results have yielded what is, unequivocally, the most wide-open Oscar field in history. The major guild [...]

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" and

    WGA Awards 2019: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?,' 'Eighth Grade' Win Screenplay Awards

    In a pair of upsets, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” has won the Writers Guild of America’s adapted screenplay award for Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade.” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” based on the memoir of the late Lee Israel, topped the screenplays [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content