Variety Streaming Room
Intent on directing a feature film, Robin Wright made her way through scripts while shooting the last season of Netflix’s “House of Cards.” Marked by a period of random shootings, she often woke…
Intent on directing a feature film, Robin Wright made her way through scripts while shooting the last season of Netflix’s “House of Cards.” Marked by a period of random shootings, she often woke up each morning wondering “How do these people get through that trauma and grief?”
Then she received the screenplay for “Land.”
“This one just resonated,” Wright told deputy awards and features editor Jenelle Riley in the Variety Streaming Room. “I really wanted to share this message, because the end of this movie is about the light on the other side of the tunnel, and that we meet each other to get through difficult times.”
“Land” centers on Edee, a woman who escapes to a Wyoming mountainside after the death of her husband and son. She meets a local hunter, Miguel (Demián Bichir), who ends up helping her through her grief. In addition to directing, Wright plays Edee, but that was not always part of the plan.
“We got financed very quickly, and we just had this very slim window in which we had to get it cast and pack our bags and go to Canada,” Wright explained.
Just as quickly, Wright knew Bichir needed to play Miguel. She recalled being “blown away” by his performance in “A Better Life” and his knack for humor in “The Hateful Eight.”
“I saw a beautiful character, that, for me, [was] the opportunity to explore different things that I hadn’t tried before as an actor in any other film,” Bichir said. “To find a package such as this, it’s so rare to happen in our lifetime. They come every once in a blue moon.”
Committed to her role, Wright and producer Allyn Stewart slept in their on-set trailers to feel like they were living the movie they were shooting. They were limited to a 29-day shoot, which had to capture four seasons. Wanting to be just as prepared, their director of photography slept nearby in Edee’s cabin to be ready to capture extreme weather conditions.
Filming in the wilderness meant adapting to nature’s unpredictable behavior and all its inhabitants. That meant having a bear whisperer on set at all times.
“We had our set bear. Yep, he showed up every day. He got a hamburger one day on the craft service table, and then he decided to come back,” Wright said. Out of precaution, the bear whisperer would lock the trailers at night because the bears are capable of opening them up.
Though “Land” is fueled by the grieving process, it is ultimately a story of healing and kindness. Wright reflected how it counteracts the high-profile encouragement of cruelty and bullying over the previous four years: I just love the idea of ‘Let’s remind each other that human beings are beautiful and we want to be kind and help others.’”