Props, set pieces and costumes are on display as part of Netflix’s On-Set A VirtuaI Artisan Experience, a interactive online exhibit where fans can engage with contenders including “The Harder They Fall” and get an in-depth look at all aspects of the film including directing, writing, cinematography, production design, costume design, hair & makeup, editing and sound.
The all-star cast also features Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz and Delroy Lindo — an all-Black principal cast leading their way through the West. Nat Love (Majors) seeks revenge on the man who killed his parents, but also finds love along the way. Costumes worn by the film’s cast Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield and Idris Elba were on display.
Messam discussed her collaboration with Samuel, saying the first-time feature film director gave her room to collaborate and to come up with backstories for the characters. “He allowed me to create and think about how powerful Trudy [Smith] looks in blue which is predominantly a man’s color, but she embodied it because she was a powerful woman,” Messam said.
Smith was based on a real-life outlaw and in depicting her, they wanted her to look as powerful and as womanly as possible. Samuel said, “A woman that doesn’t have to look like a man or dress like a man to be powerful. We wanted her to be in dresses. You don’t have to make them turn into a particular stereotype for the audience’s palate, to make it easier to digest. We wanted to show our women as women, and just be even more badass than the men.”
Samuel didn’t just pen the screenplay, he also composed the film’s soundtrack and score — which is on the Academy shortlist for Best Original Score. He wanted to give the film a record for the ages and turned to Jamaican artists. When the outlaws arrive in Douglastown, a dark and rough outlaw town, Samuel wanted to introduce it with a reggae song. “Better than Gold,” sung by Barrington Levy, is lyrically about Africa and before slavery. Elba’s character rides in and gets off his horse and enters the saloon. Says Samuel, “You hear the song being sung by Barrington Levy, but when he goes into that saloon, it’s the same song, but now a saloon version. It’s this seamless transition from needle drop in to score.”
Maysville is “a white town,” which Samuel says was a gag. The ground, the horses and everything on screen is white. In the scene, Danielle Deadwyler as Cuffee enters the bank with Nat, and Messam recalls Samuel telling her he wanted Cuffee to pop.
Illustrator Kadir Nelson served as an inspiration for the scene in how to deliver that red. Messam stripped back the colors worn by characters in the scene while keeping them normal and organic. “There was a little pop for that feature we have with the one on one with Cuffee and the woman in the bank.”