January 9, 2017
by Carla Hay
The 74th annual Golden Globe Awards took place on January 8, 2017, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.
Golden Globe win:
- Best Motion Picture – Drama
Here is what these Golden Globe winners said backstage in the Golden Globe Awards press room.
What did it mean to you to be able to show Miami on screen?
Barry Jenkins (writer/director): It meant the world to me. You know, the whole the whole point of this film for Tarell Alvin McCraney, the playwright, and I was to tell a very truthful story about how we grew up. And so are going to Miami to make the film because this story I think not that is universally I think is very specific, to be honest, but we could have told the story in New Orleans you could’ve told in Atlanta, Georgia, where our budget would have gone much farther than did in Florida where there’s no tax incentives.
But Tarell and I are both from Miami, so the city—kind of cliché to say it—it was a character, but it really was a character in this film and whenever people see this movie I feel like they come to Miami. They sit down with us the experience what it’s like to grow up there. And then to have all these journalists from all over the world have taken this trip to Miami and award the film is proof positive that we did the right thing by sticking to our guns and shooting in Miami.
Janelle, this film deals with one of the toughest things that some people go through in this country on being young especially African-American coming out. Can you talk about performing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in place of Kim Burrell, whose performance was cancelled after her anti-gay speech?
Janelle Monáe: I’m pro-love. I’ve been very supportive of love. And at the end of the day, I think that no matter where you come from and who you love, you deserve to have a right to the American Dream and to also have your story told. So I’m so thankful to be part of this true American story.
I’m thankful to be a part of a cast and a director who is pro-inclusion. And I just think that anybody who is representing hate is a part of the problem and I hope we can learn from each other and be more empathetic of one another and I hope that we can all remember the end of the day we all bleed the same color.
Why do you think people are responding “Moonlight” the way they are?
Jenkins: For me, I’m all about process and the process of making this film going back to day one on set … was about making universal film. It was about getting it right and being very specific to where we were with what the actors were giving us on the day and trying to speak truth to power in that.
And so I think in doing that I think the movie touches people because they see the authenticity that we put into it we were trying to do anything but tell our story. I think people respect that because often you try to tell a story that you believe someone is going to be willing to pay to hear. That was not our goal.
Our goal was to just speak truth as to Tarell’s experience and my experience they can doing that you can go to Katmandu or I can say I’ve been to London or Rome or Toronto will Telluride, these places so far removed, or the HFPA, the Philippines, to Russia all these different places and people respect the fact that oh no I’m not trying to make a story that relates to you in your place here right now. I think we need more that as we move into the next four years of life on this planet.
Barry, you dedicated this award to your mother. Has she seen “Moonlight” yet?
Jenkins: I think she wants to watch it on the small screen, which as a filmmaker, like no, you see it in the theater as big as possible but I think she wants to make her peace with it, woman to screen. I think she wants to engage the story on one level not in a room like this with a bunch of—I’d say for her—strangers. I do think we’ve been talking a lot more and the conversation has accelerated. I will say Naomi has given all these interviews, every interview she gives my mom watches and it.
And she has seen I think the care and thoughtfulness that they will be put into betraying her and I do think she’s getting you know I can’t rush her bit-by-bit, but she’s a step closer to I think sitting down and watching and some version you know myself and Tarell’s depiction of herself.
Do you think movies can change things socially?
Jenkins: I see what you’re saying, but … people have seen this film three times, four times, not as escapism but for realism. They want to go to the cinema and see something real reflected in all these films. No one could have anticipated that we would be sitting on the president-elect that we have coming into office in the next 12, 13 days. However, we all made these films because we felt something was lacking in the soil at the root these stories that hadn’t been told.
I don’t know if it was that these two things are coming together at the same time but we’re here now you know and we have to keep telling these stories very truthfully and honestly. And we have to give people things not to escape to this room for escapism but things they can run to reaffirm that not that all lives matter, I don’t want to step into that, but that you know what if you’re feeling something that you want to speak it? You speak it and someone there will be there to hear your truth. And I think that’s been the spirit of “Moonlight” so far.
To the actors, how specifically did you acted against each other especially in the three different acts and how each relationship was different moving forward to the story?
Mahershala Ali (co-star): Let me just say that one thing that we didn’t do was act against each other we always acted with each other. And this is the greatest joy my career.
Ashton Sanders (co-star): I agree.
Trevante Rhodes (co-star): Yeah, it was really just about sharing the moment issue in the space with beautiful people and being able to listen and react. That’s all it was and just understanding situation and understand who the person was. And trusting this man right here [he points to Jenkins].
Ashton and Trevante, you weren’t allowed to see each other during filming “Moonlight.” How important was that for the overall effect and were you surprised actually to find continuation within the characters when you saw them on screen?
Rhodes: I think it was very important because me personally I would have done any and everything I could to try and at least a little bit mimic what the younger versions were going to try and force some similarity within myself. And I think just not having to focus on that and again trusting Barry, trusting the script, trusting my idea who the person was the most important thing and allowing me to be free and to just embody the character and just leave it at that. That’s where I’m at.
Sanders: Just to back up what Travonte was saying, I think it allowed us to focus on our sections and our circumstances within our sections. Chiron is a different person having three parts of the film, so it allowed us to again focus on our circumstances and to tap into that time period of Chiron.
Can tell us how difficult it was to find the producers for “Moonlight” and how many countries has the movie been sold?
Jenkins: A24 sold the movie to—and I’ll say ballpark—20 territories internationally, which is amazing for a film set in this world featuring these characters. I will say the myth has been propagated about what a film with a cast that looks like this in a story that’s set in this world where it can show where people come out and see it. This movie has defied—I won’t say expectations—but I think those perceptions.
I made a movie in 2008 called “Medicine for Melancholy”— a very small film, $15,000 budget. And the good folks at Plan B saw that film. We started talking; nothing came of it. I think I wasn’t ready at that point. And when I had the screenplay for “Moonlight” with my first producer, Adele Romanski, who I went to film school with, the cinematographer and both editors also went to film school with me at Florida State University, we sent the script to Plan B, and they read it and immediately they said that they wanted to get involved. They had seen the first film and thought, “What can this guy do? Look at what these people do with a larger canvas.”
And then from Plan B, they take it to A24. A24 at that point only distributed films, not finance them, but they believed in our voice so much—I’ll say Tarell’s and my voice—that they literally opened a new lane, as the kids say. And they are in their business to finance the film. It was the first film financed by A24. From there it was just like an open door. It was like, “This is the budget here and the parameters. Go out and make the film you want to make.” It was a beautiful process.
They allowed me to do the things I wanted to do. And yet they asked questions and those questions always led to answers, but they allowed me to decide when the answer has been reached. So it was a beautiful process. I feel very fortunate very privileged to have made this film with Plan B, A24 and Adele Romanski. Thank you very much. Much love to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.