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The MovieMaker Sundance Survey 2017: The Scoop on 19 Films Playing Park City at the 33rd Festival

The MovieMaker Sundance Survey 2017: The Scoop on 19 Films Playing Park City at the 33rd Festival


Roxanne Roxanne (U.S. Dramatic Competition)

Who: Nina Yang Bongiovi, producer

Logline: Roxanne Shante is a teenage girl and a fierce MC from Queensbridge, NY who has profound influence in hip-hop culture.

The length of the shoot was: 23 days

Our crew size was: 80

Our camera, lenses and lighting package were: Arri Alexa, shot on anamorphic lenses.

Nina Yang Bongiovi

The first spark of an idea for this movie came when: Mimi Valdes and I were discussing a popular novel from the late 1990s about a young girl from Brooklyn that I had a shot at producing, but the rights fell through and Mimi said, “What about Roxanne Shante?,” then sent me an article from her Vibe days.

My favorite scene (or shot) in the film is: when Chante Adams (our lead actress) nails the rap performances as Roxanne Shante. It brings so much nostalgia and a big ol’ smile to my face.

An audience watching my film probably won’t know that: my financiers are 100-percent Asian.

An influence or reference on this film was: everything East Coast ’80s hip-hop: fashion, music videos, nuances, slang, dance moves…

The greatest flash of inspiration or brilliance we had making this film was: the combination of Chante Adams, Nia Long and Mahershala Ali. Magic.

The biggest lesson I learned making this movie was: how to efficiently and effectively film in NYC the next time around. Seriously.

A darling I had to kill along the way was: a funny scene (shot on a long, long night) that we loved so much in the script which involved stunts (translation: expensive), but sadly, it just didn’t work in the film during editing. Gone.

I need to give a special shout-out to: my writer-director Michael Larnell, who dealt with production chaos with patience and kindness.

When I heard we got into Sundance I: called Michael Larnell and Mimi Valdes, screaming. Then texted Forest Whitaker who was in South Africa filming.

My favorite film festival moment in my life so far is: the premiere of Fruitvale Station at Sundance 2013. The energy in the theater was overwhelming and unforgettable. We felt a shift in the paradigm of creating something that truly matters and can change lives.

I would love to meet: emerging storytellers in Park City.

I’m most excited about seeing: Mudbound at Sundance this year. I love what Charles King and Macro represents, and the film’s cinematographer, Rachel Morrison, is one of my favorite people in the world. MM

This article appears, in part, in MovieMaker‘s Winter 2017 issue. Visit the Sundance Film Festival official website here.

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    Martin M

    January 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    After reading a couple articles in this new issue, I am becoming convinced I should allocate some of my budget for VFX! I am writing and directing a film about a cyber relationship between a man and a woman across two different galaxies, though one is unsure which lives on Earth, and I’m struggling with transitional scenes across the Milky Way.

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