The respect Director Liesl Tommy was joined by writer Tracey Scott Wilson, cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau and production designer Ina Mayhew at Deadline’s Contenders: New York awards season event on Saturday to discuss their film about the singer legendary Aretha Franklin.
From a screenplay by Wilson (Americans, Fosse / Verdon), Tommy’s first feature film stars Jennifer Hudson as Franklin and focuses on Franklin’s first two decades – from his education as a musical prodigy to the loss of his mother to a rise to stardom who defied the constraints of an abusive marriage and system patriarchy. Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess and Mary J. Blige co-starring.
âAretha Franklin, besides being a musical genius and political activist, also had a tremendous style,â Tommy said during the panel for the MGM / United Artists film. “I wanted this movie to look like a big lush classic Hollywood movieâ¦ It should be a fantasy based on something grittyâ¦ but it was honestly my gift to black women who loved movies and never saw themselves in movies. classic Hollywoodians. This is how I framed it in my head.
âOne thing, like Liesl said, about beauty and really showing black families,â Mayhew says, âthat’s how in the 60s and 70s, that there was this wealth, there there was this beauty, there was this attention to beautiful settings and current furniture. I think people are actually like, ‘Oh wow, I didn’t realize she led such a rich life’, and he was really important to describe this precisely and in detail and improve it.
For the third act of the film, which takes place in the 70s, Morgenthau says âit’s a bit more deconstructed and it’s a bit more color-intensive and more wearable. She is going through a more tumultuous period of her life, the country is going through a tumultuous periodâ¦ a bit like today. We were using anamorphic lenses to build a world that Liesl saw, with this great icon of American music.
âWe wanted to have a bow,â Wilson said. âWe weren’t trying to create Aretha Franklin as she was, larger than life, we were trying to see how she had become. So it was about a 10 year old girl named Arethaâ¦ instead of trying to show the world the Aretha they think they know.
When it comes to comments from black women, Tommy says, âThey love it. I think they feel seen. I think they feel valued. Aretha Franklin loved and stood up for black women her whole life and I thought the movie should.
‘Respect’ review: Jennifer Hudson electrifies the role Aretha Franklin personally chose her to play
Check back on Monday for the panel video.
The sponsors of Contenders Film: New York are Michter’s Distillery, Los Siete Misterios Mezcal, Eyepetizer and modMD.
Aretha Franklin Biopic ‘Respect’ with Jennifer Hudson: Trailer, Poster, Pictures