As Oscar season gets into high gear – nomination voting opens March 5 — Variety has partnered with Women in Film to celebrate artisans and women behind the camera.
Over the next week, Variety will roll out one-to-one conversations with “Mank” costume designer Trish Summerville, “One Night in Miami” cinematographer Tami Reiker ASC, “Promising Young Woman” makeup head Angie Wells, singer and songwriter H.E.R and artist Janelle Monae. The conversations will be posted on Variety.com.
Senior Artisans Editor Jazz Tangcay will moderate each conversation to break down the process behind their craft and respective projects.
On March 4, a live discussion will be streamed via Women in Film’s platforms.
MEET THE PANEL
Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, a.k.a H.E.R., wrote the power anthem behind Shaka King’s “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Fight for You.” A Grammy Award-winning artist, this marks H.E.R.’s first foray into the Oscar race with this original song contender.
Speaking with Variety about the song and finding the right tone, the singer said, “The struggle continues, and we need to give people hope because it’s easy to look at the movie and say, ‘Man, nothing has changed.’ And while that is true, there are people who are continuing the work that Fred Hampton did.”
For the Stacey Abrams-produced documentary, “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” streaming on Prime Video, the soulful, empowering song written by singer-songwriter Janelle Monae is a rallying cry for a revolution.
Monae, who won a SAG Award for her performance in “Hidden Figures,” steps behind the camera this time.
“I didn’t want to censor my feelings,” says Monae. “I’m not a politician, I’m an artist. And my responsibility is to an unfiltered truth whenever I’m writing music and lyrics. And I think with someone like Stacey, who I love and respect and admire, I know that there are a lot of eyes on her and what she’s a part of. And when you’re a politician, you have to move differently.”
But in the end, everyone was satisfied with the song’s fiery tone. ”We all held hands around a truth that we all believe in and support, so there was nothing to change about it.”
Tami Reiker’s cinematography breathes so beautifully in Regina King’s “One Night in Miami.” Her shots are all about the narrative and intimacy, expertly framing subjects Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge).
When it came to recreating the famous fight, her bible was the book “Goat: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali” by Jeff Koons. “We used that to be authentic and recreate the same lighting grid that they had used for that fight,” says Reiker.
And for the intimate interior scenes, Reiker gives audiences a fly-on-the-wall feel by making use of jib arms so she could follow actors around and keep the camera moving.
Although many women have framed films this year, Reiker is one of the few to garner awards buzz and is a strong contender in the cinematography race.
Trish Summerville is no stranger to delivering David Fincher’s vision through costume design. The two previously collaborated on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “Gone Girl.”
When it came to “Mank,” Summerville used modern technology – the iPhone black-and-white filters — as part of her research process when it came to creating the costumes for Fincher’s homage to old Hollywood and the writing process behind “Citizen Kane.”
In the heavily suited world, Summerville made sure not to just give all the men “navy suits,” but rather, dressed them based on who these characters were. Additionally, salmon and aubergines helped her add glam to the gowns to create that Hollywood glitz.
Director Emerald Fennell wanted a pastel color palette for her directorial debut “Promising Young Woman.” With that in mind, make-up head Angie Wells created numerous looks for Carey Mulligan’s Cassie. While Cassie was working, Wells went with a natural look. “I wanted her makeup to be almost like a blank canvas so that would leave us places to go.”
Wells, who has worked on “Harriet,” “Mudbound” and “Sylvie’s Love,” named her creations, including one called the “Homemade Kardashian” look. As Cassie descends into darkness, Wells blended colors to come up with the perfect red. And for the nurse look, Wells reveals a blowup doll served as her inspiration.