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Jeymes Samuel took on a lot of creative responsibility when creating his Black Western film “The Harder They Fall.” Serving as writer, director, producer and composer, there was a guiding ethos that got him through it all: “Obey your crazy.”

The film strings together one fictional narrative out of several real-life Black cowboys. For example, Nat Love, played by Jonathan Majors in the film, lived from 1854 to 1921 and was a former slave who became a major figure of the old West. In Samuel’s research process, he realized that the cowboys had already embodied the highly stylized sensibilities he was developing for the film.

“I always say, ‘Obey your crazy.’ But it felt validating that brand of crazy was right,” he said at the Variety Streaming Room presented by Netflix. “Antoinette was the first [head of department] that was on this movie. So, me and Antoinette were cooking from the beginning, going back and forth, what they wore, what I’d want them to wear, what would be the new interpretations of what they were trying to do. [And] If you look at a picture [of] Nat Love, the pictures that he would take of himself, he is super swagged out! With huge chaps in his hair, all like to the side.”

“So, how would we interpret that today? What would be that kind of swag, where you can see that these people are image conscious, as we’ve always been?” Samuel continued. “But they still dress for the environment, they still dress for the mission, while looking like bosses. And all of those conversations — the costumes, building the environment as well, the production design — all of those conversations, to see them all being embraced by the public — Burna Boy did a show the other day, and he came out in full cowboy clothes, and then Burna Boy and ‘The Harder They Fall’ were both trending at the same time — I wouldn’t necessarily say surreal, but it just feels warm and validating that we were right. People were ready for these stories to be told, and these images to be presented.”

The use of color in “The Harder They Fall” was one area that allowed Messam and the creative team major creative license.

“Jeymes kept saying, ‘I need more color, Antoinette, I need more color.’ And I kept saying, ‘It’s coming, Jeymes. It’s coming.’” Messam said. “Having someone like Martin Whist as my production designer, who’s the color king, and known for elaborate textures and grand sets that just jump off the page, I needed to use his direction. Not even his direction — let’s reel back to Jeymes and some of the paintings and artwork that he shared with us that was inspiration and the colors within. Most important to Jeymes was that he wanted his characters to pop, to say, ‘Here I am.’ To embody who they could have been if we were watching a movie that didn’t have gray dust spread across it.”

“What Jeymes and I did was just percolate all the ideas and the colors and just find all this research, [and] 90% of it was black and white. But then I went to the fashion imagery of things that inspired me, like Ozwald Boateng’s Harlem Renaissance collection,” Messam added. “And those rich, bold jewel tones. I just knew that this is what we needed in our film. So once the cast started to come in, I just started to feel not only their inner vibe but their complexions, how they walked. I started with RJ [Cyler, who plays Jim Beckwourth] from his feet up. We started with his boots. A caramel brown. It was the true color in his costume, and we just built upwards.”

Though the final aesthetic of the film was highly unique and intentional, Messam emphasized that their collaborative process allowed everything to come together easily.

“The color for me, even though it looked very specific and stylized, was almost organic. Because we’re working from known palette references and then we’re adding our own taste and style and what we wished it could be. And then of course Jeymes’s mandate: ‘I want color.’ It just all started to seamlessly fall in place. That red scarf [on Lakeith Stanfield, who plays Cherokee Bill], I put that in literally as we were about to shoot. It just needed a pop, and I just ran in there with a little piece of a scarf and wrapped it around his neck.”

“From the beginning, she was just teaching me about color just in general,” Samuel said of Messam. “And its usage. What to do, what characters would wear what. So I’m like, ‘I want more color!’ She’s like, ‘Jeymes, it’s colorful. Trust me when the camera hits it.’”

Watch the full conversation above.