The Universal-Blumhouse film “Get Out” has been winning awards for first-time feature writer-director Jordan Peele, but he’s quick to salute his behind-the-camera colleagues. “They trusted me with a crazy premise and I owe them a great deal,” Peele said. He spoke about his collaborators on the envelope-pushing movie that was filmed in Alabama.
“I wanted everything about the house to be comforting, so we could subvert that comfort. For the other locations, there weren’t sets built, but there was a complex where we co-opted spaces to create a few sets, like the detective office, the operating room. The creepy rec room was originally a judge’s chambers. In the script, it was called the games room, and it could have gone many different ways. I wanted an evil feng shui, but with was a curious warmth. I almost wanted a sense that you could have fun in the room — partly for the audience’s sanity, but also because of that paradox. With the operating room, I wanted it to feel mysterious, pristine, but not over the top. To Rusty’s credit, he really pulled it off, and with almost no budget — and it feels more expensive than it is. Rusty and his brilliant team really executed my vision perfectly.”
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“When Chris arrives at the front door, it’s all shown in long shot. I wanted a sense that the house itself and therefore, the situation, is the monster. [Oliver] has a long list of credits, especially in Australia, where he was used to working for pennies and dimes. He was a dream cinematographer for a first-time director. Many photographers don’t have experience lighting black skin, which gets even trickier in dark spaces. But he did that beautifully; he’s a consummate professional. I had a clear idea of what equipment I wanted to use and how the camera would move, and he worked miracles with basically no time. On top of that, if we had an extra camera or an extra 20 minutes, he would find some beautiful and unexpected shots. There’s nothing more you can ask for: a cinematographer who can execute your vision and who can then take an extra 20 minutes and turn it into practical cinema.”
“Greg has a knack for smoothness and seamlessness. I have more out-of-the-box ideas. Between the two of us, we were able to craft a film that flows. It doesn’t feel edited. And with some scenes you might not notice the editing, but he pulled off miracles, like the sequence where the family is outside having iced tea. Those scenes were difficult to shoot, and had some improvisational moments, so there were all kinds of challenges. Greg never showed anything that looked jagged. I knew some moments would be tricky in the editing, but he presented it smoothly even in his first cut. [The conversation between Chris and Georgina, played by Daniel Kaluuya and Betty Gabriel] was one of our favorite scenes to cut, mainly because I could watch those performances all day long.”
“She’s able to make all the actors feel comfortable. I think she had fun working on Walter [Marcus Henderson]. She found sneakers that were vintage. It was a detail that we knew most people wouldn’t see, but it helped inform the actor. That’s something I really value in a film, attention to things that won’t be seen in movie but you feel them in the performances. One of my favorite contribution of hers was an outfit for Dean [Bradley Whitford], the black turtleneck and the corduroy suit jacket. I told her, ‘We will pull it off if the costumes feel real and not costume-y, but iconic enough so if next Halloween you saw eight people walking down the street, you would recognize them as characters from “Get Out.”’ I said this is the scary version of ‘Royal Tennenbaums.’ Wes Anderson has the ability to find a look that feels unique and everyday at the same time. Nadine can do that. She was a real blessing, especially because she was able to stretch the budget.”
“He hadn’t composed a film before, which is what I wanted; I didn’t want someone with a bag of tricks. As a movie, it needs to sound like something we hadn’t experienced before. I sent him links to my favorite horror scores: Philip Glass for ‘Candyman,’ John Carpenter for ‘Halloween,’ the score from ‘The Shining,’ Mica Levy’s ‘Under the Skin,’ Angelo Badalamenti. We talked about elements of these scores that produced the unnerving aspects. I found him on YouTube with one of his classical works, ‘Urban Legends.’ It wasn’t like any classical piece I’ve heard. It was a hybrid and this film is about creating hybrids. I wanted the music to reflect that. We first focused on that opening track. I knew I wanted black voices in a context we hadn’t heard. He decided to do the voices in Swahili. He came up with something that sounds like a demonic Negro spiritual. It just worked and it informs the rest of the score.”