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91st Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: PRODUCTION DESIGN

SPEECH BY: Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart


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Q. Hannah, congratulations to you both. 
A. (Hannah Beachler)  Thank you.

Q. What was it like for you to get involved with a project like BLACK PANTHER and create the world of Wakanda?
A. (Hannah Beachler)  Well, I was going to get involved with the project because of Ryan Coogler.  I've worked with him on two previous films, so there was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to do the film, because I know what Ryan would bring to it and what it would become, not just a super hero film but a film for the ages.  So, you know, it was about me getting the project, about Marvel, you know, sort of being convinced that I could do this project more than about me wanting to do the project, because I wanted to work with Ryan.

Q. Hannah, it's been about a year since I've had the pleasure of interviewing you for my column on your collaborations with the other visual department heads.  So talk a little bit    especially winning Oscars in tandem    about those collaborations, and in a reprise of what I asked Ruth, your inspirations both in terms of African history and, of course, comic book history. 
A. (Hannah Beachler)  you know, collaborating with Rachel Morrison, Ruth Carter, Jay Hart, my set decorator, I mean, that's just how you make films:  You collaborate.  It's a collaborative medium in the way that we do it, because we're all visual, and we all, you know, bring that to the table.  Part two of your question I don't remember at all because I'm just totally freaking out right now, right?  I'm like holding this, and I'm like trying to be super serious about, like, you know, when we did the you know, honestly, I'm like this is so yellow.  So you'll have to excuse me, because I am literally losing my mind.  But I will say a lot of the inspiration that came from the continent came about from really where we located Wakanda on the continent; because if people were going to migrate, they were going to migrate around that area.  So we took a very anthropological look at how the country was placed on the continent; and then from there, you know, you've got your Omo Valley tribes that are sort of southeast    yeah    southeast in Ethiopia.  So, you know, it's like they migrated down to Wakanda.  That became our river tribe.  So that's sort of how we begun    that's sort of how we began to sort of, all right, naturally these people would have migrated to this area for these reasons, and so these are our inspirations as far as, like, you know, we wanted to be as real as we could.  And then I just don't remember anything else you asked, because I'm totally in another world right now.  Sorry.  Did that sound    was that rude?  I'm just kidding. 

Q. Hi, Hannah.  Congratulations to you. 
A. (Hannah Beachler)  Thank you.

Q. Both at the Art Directors Guild Awards and tonight you talked about finding those moments where you stayed stronger.  I wonder if you could reflect now, especially holding the Oscar, about those points where you felt insecure and how you managed to keep yourself going. 
A. (Hannah Beachler)  I mean, I think as creatives, you know, everyone goes through moments of struggle, and depression, like I    this is so hard.  I'm not going to be able to make it and do it, and it's really about the people you surround yourself with.  So having Jay, having Victoria Alonso, and Kevin Feige, and Nate Moore, and Ryan Coogler, of course, and Zinzi Coogler, they are being patient and lifting me up every day.  I mean, that's how you get through it.  It's like eating an elephant one spoonful at a time, because PANTHER was just ginormous, and there was a lot to do, and a lot of research, and 500 page bibles, and previously before that a 400 page bible.  You know, we just    it was nonstop.  So you lean on the people that you love and that are family, and I would consider, you know, Ryan and everyone on PANTHER part of my family.

Q. I remember you had some    remember we interviewed? 
A. (Hannah Beachler)  Yes.

Q. And I told you, I predicted that a little black girl is going to be watching you and be inspired by you.  So I wanted to ask, what would you say to her and other black creators for the future of production design? 
A. (Hannah Beachler)  Don't ever let anybody tell you that you can't do this craft.  You are worthy, and you are beautiful, and this is something for you.  That's what I would tell them.

Q. Congratulations to you.  We were all rooting for you.  It's very exciting. 
A. (Hannah Beachler)  Thank you so much.

Q. So just to piggyback off of that question, I'm wondering if there was any advice that you were ever given that you feel pretty much changed the course of your career. 
A. (Hannah Beachler)  I've been given so much advice over the years, and every bit of it has changed everything.  I think the advice that changed everything for me the most was when I arrived in Oakland all those years ago with Ryan on the first day, and he said, You know what?  Just be honest, and be truthful, and be you; because if you don't, if you're not yourself, then, you know, this is never going to work.  And that's the best advice I got. 

Q. Hello.  How are you? 
A. (Hannah Beachler)  Fine.

Q. Congratulations on making history tonight. 
A. (Hannah Beachler)  Thank you.

Q. Talk to me a little bit about very quickly what resonated with you when you first stepped on BLACK PANTHER'S set?
A. (Hannah Beachler)  On the sets? 
Q. On the set, yes. 
A. (Hannah Beachler)  The finished sets?  I mean, the first    the first set that I walked onto that was completed was the casino, and I was driving in to work, and I knew that they were finishing up the night before.  And the stage door happened to be opened, and I thought, let me pull over and walk in.  Nobody was there, and the lights were on; and I walked in, and I walked to the middle of that set, and I just fell to my knees and cried because I never thought I would be there.  I never thought that I would ever have that opportunity to do something on that scale.  I never thought that    I never saw anyone like me have an opportunity to do something like that on that scale.  I attributed that to Ryan Coogler and Marvel films; but it felt like it does now.



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