Beasts of the Southern Wild

James Beard Q&A with Josh Penn: Food & Beasts

James Beard


The James Beard Foundation interviewed producer Josh Penn about the role of food in Beasts of the Southern Wild and within film in general.

JP: So much of the culture in the Louisiana bayou is about food, and more specifically, living off the water. It’s intertwined with everything, it defines the community, and is something that we really wanted to capture. Our first day of shooting was actually the day of the BP oil spill. Most people in the area live off the water in some way or another, and the spill threatened their entire lifestyle—because whether or not it’s your livelihood, it’s still the source of what you eat. It’s what’s all around you. It really underscored how food is interwoven into every aspect of life there. And the approach to food and how it should be eaten would obviously be different if we were telling a story about another community. I’m sure they eat crabs pretty differently on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Read the full interview here.




Quvenzhané Wallis to star in Annie Remake

Quvenzhane Annie

You won’t have to wait long to see our girl, Quvenzhané Wallis, back on the big screen.

Industry blog, The Wrap, reports that Quvenzhané has been cast in the lead role of Annie in a remake to be produced by “James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith through Overbrook Entertainment, and by Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Jay Brown and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith through Marcy Media”. The film will be directed by Will Gluck whose credits include Easy A and Friends with Benefits.

Congrats to Quvenzhané!

The Little Indie That Could

Made by a rag tag crew of filmmakers and artists, Beasts of the Southern Wild was financed with the help of grants, film institutes and non-profit financiers, Cinereach.

While the motivation for making the film was never about how it would perform at the box office, this week’s Business Insider, takes a closer look at the financial breakdown of how a small, independent film like Beasts can still perform alongside big blockbuster studio movies.

“The little indie that could was produced for a mere $1.5 million and pulled off a worldwide gross of $12.3 million. Though perfectly respectable for an avant-garde picture with no stars, that final tally is a far cry from blockbuster status. Indeed, it’s the lowest grossing film among all the nominees, but it still represents the biggest return on investment for its producers. The film made more than seven times its budget — a better return even than “Life of Pi,” which is tops in terms of total box office among all the Best Picture nominees.”

Read the full article here.


10 Lessons on Filmmaking from Benh Zeitlin

(Quvenzhané Wallis), (Benh Zeitlin), (Dwight Henry)

Filmmaker Magazine asked director Benh Zeitlin for a list of 10 lessons on filmmaking.

1. Pay tribute to your heroes, in your own voice.
2. Your film must be a done deal. Only the journey is negotiable.
3. Direct the camera just as another actor in your story.
4. Find a story that anyone can relate to.
5. Stay true to the key theme of your film, every frame of every scene.
6. Direct truth, even in fiction.
7. The old Hollywood formula for what makes a successful film is dead.
8. There’s no one-size fits all path toward making a feature.
9. Cinema is alive and thriving outside of New York and L.A.
10. Filmmaking is an adventure. Treat it as such.

Whether you are a filmmaker or a fan, the full article is worth a read. Find it here.

Quvenzhané Wallis in People Magazine!

Nazie People Mag


Quvenzhané Wallis was featured in People Magazine‘s Salute to the Oscar Nominees photo spread alongside actors Robert DeNiro, Amy Adams, Jessica Chastain, Sally Field, Anne Hathaway and more.

What a cutie. That is all.

Critical Reviews of Beasts of the Southern Wild

For its ‘Eye on the Oscars 2013: Best Picture’ series, Variety gathered some of the film reviews that have been written since the release of Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Read them here and let us know if you agree or disagree!

Benh Zeitlin on The Colbert Report!

My guest tonight is a director, who at the age of 26 directed his first feature film which has now been nominated for four Oscars. I will pretend that I’m happy for him.” – Stephen Colbert


Last night, director Benh Zeitlin was a guest on Beasts HQ favorite, The Colbert Report. The interview was as funny and insightful as we hoped it would be.

In the clip above, Benh and Stephen discuss the BP oil spill that occurred the first day of shooting, using animal crackers on set as currency and what Oscar category Benh hopes we’ll win.



Quvenzhané Wallis graces the cover of Entertainment Weekly

Our girl Quvenzhané Wallis graces the cover of this year’s Entertainment Weekly Special Oscar Guide 2013 issue and we just had to share the spread! Benh Zeitlin says of his star:

She’s an incredibly wise and strong human being…When we’re on set, I can talk to her like an adult and she’ll talk to me like an adult. It’s strange – she can sort of swap being a little kid and being the most sophisticated person you can imagine.

Benh was also featured in the same issue where he explains, “The movie is about survival and the power of this little girl”.

From Baker to Beasts and Back

The New York Times recently sent journalist Melena Ryzik to visit Dwight Henry at his now famous bakery, The Buttermilk Drop, down in New Orleans.  Mr. Henry reveals that while he was hesitant to take the role (in fact, he turned it down twice), it was the Beast team’s adamant belief in his talent that convinced him to take the part.

“They felt I was the perfect person for this part. But I could not take it, as much as I wanted to, as much as I wanted to take the part, to move for two and a half months like they needed me to do, to sacrifice a business I was working so hard to pass on to my kids for a possible movie career that..I don’t know where it’s gonna take me. But I know where my bakery’s gonna take me. After turning them down twice, they had me believing I was the only person in the world that could play this part, and I thought back to the time when I was first trying to open up my business, when nobody believed in me. I got turned down by every finance company, every bank, every friend, every family member and for these guys to come from New York, don’t know nothing about me, to put their whole budget, their whole film into me and a young six year old girl’s hands that had never acted. That meant a lot to me.”

Though the film’s success has opened plenty of Hollywood doors, Mr. Henry’s first and last love is still his bakery. He tells Ryzik that even when in Los Angeles to receive an award or make a publicity appearance, he feels the Buttermilk Drop calling and makes it his first stop off the plane.  He says, “This place..I worked hard for it. I’m magnetized to it.”

Lucky for us, Mr. Henry will soon get to call New York his second home when his famous buttermilk drops debut in Harlem in Spring 2013.

Check out the full interview here.



The Nonprofit Behind Beasts

The making of Beasts of the Southern Wild has become a bit of an industry fairytale on its own. Conceived by two childhood friends, created by a group of artists, filmmakers and friends, shot on the fringe of the world with a cast of first time actors including a baker and a six year old child, Beasts was a up hill journey that took almost half a decade to make. 

Part of the fable also includes a nonprofit organization and film production company, Cinereach, who financed the bulk of the Beasts budget.

Nonprofit Quarterly takes a closer look at the organization that helped bring Beasts to the big screen: 

Few in Hollywood have paid much attention to these nonprofit film companies, which are Davids among the Goliaths of the major studios. But, particularly with the attention to Beasts of the Southern Wild, perhaps we’re witnessing a change. Perhaps these smaller nonprofits—willing to take risks that the Hollywood market system might never green light, such as a film without professional actors—will begin to attract more attention for their ability to serve as bastions of true art in film.

Read the full article here.

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