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With still a month to go before the July 22 release of Jordan Peele’s Nope, every new clip is an opportunity to overanalyze for hints about the auteur’s cryptic upcoming feature.
But the new behind-the-scenes featurette released by Universal on Wednesday doesn’t require much pause-and-rewind to grasp the point. The two-and-a-half-minute video features members of the crew — plus Peele and actors Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Brandon Perea — discussing the team effort of making the movie, which the filmmaker called “a bigger adventure” than his previous outings (his breakout Get Out was made for $4.5 million, with his follow-up Us on a $20 million budget).
“I tried to write a script I didn’t know how to pull off, and then assembled a team to help me pull it off,” Peele says in the clip. “Every single department is firing off these huge, big swings.”
The crewmembers showcased in the featurette buck industry statistics on representation and inclusion. “It takes a village to make a film. Here on Nope, we’re all important individually and in combination,” says Liz Tan, who served as a first assistant director alongside Thomas Patrick Smith, who is white. “That sense of respect and integrity for all of us is hugely important.”
“There’s not that many African American directors out there with an opportunity to do things at a high level,” says first camera assistant Keith Davis, who is Black. Studies have consistently shown that leaders from historically excluded backgrounds tend to hire more diverse teams, and Peele was no exception.
In fact, Nope was the first production to participate in Universal Filmed Entertainment Group’s California Below-the-Line Traineeship, which NBCUniversal launched last June and announced in February. The program provides on-set experience and mentorship behind the camera for promising individuals from historically excluded backgrounds.
Six trainees — five students from the nonprofit Hollywood Cinema Production Resources, which provides training for entry-level, union-recognized jobs, and one individual from the Anti-Recidivism Coalition — were selected after interviewing with production executives and department heads for paid roles during the production. The inaugural class, which was assigned liaisons from HR as well as NBCUniversal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion team, consisted of Alyssa Gallo (visual effects), Christian Hidalgo (camera), Kevin Ochoa (costumes), Mondi Wannamaker (set decoration/props), Robert McTyre Jr. (electric) and Tyrone Mayorga (grips).
Universal has since expanded its below-the-line training commitment across the pond, partnering with Film London last month for similar efforts on the studio’s U.K.-based productions including Wicked and Fast X.
“Every day of this shoot, we were making something new and special, something that is a testament to why I love movies,” Peele says in an address to his crew, as seen in the featurette. “I’ll be talking about the days we made this movie forever.”
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