Before Michael Gottwald, Dan Janvey and Josh Penn were Oscar nominated producers, they were working the ground as grassroots organizers for then Presidential hopeful Barack Obama. While their political persuasions stayed out of the conception and creation of Beasts, they did use their community focused grassroots experience to inform the casting, promotion and outreach on the film.
They recently spoke to Buzzfeed about how working on the Obama '08 campaign helped them to produce Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Early on, they saw similarities between the production environment in post-Katrina Louisiana and the Presidential campaign.
“We purposely had everybody stay in the bayou in housing that was provided by locals: fishing camps, mobile homes,” Gottwald said, comparing the living environment to that experienced by campaign organizers. “Instead of having it be very distant, we purposefully had a headquarters where everybody could come, where we had meals every day, where everyone wanted to be. We had this shared kind of spirit.”
When it came to casting the film, the three producers shied away from traditional casting methods and the film school wisdom that told them to seek out big name actors. Penn saw this as a direct extension of the naïve, hopeful approach he needed while he was working for Obama’s campaign. In 2008, he believed in the impossible, and he was doing so again with this film.
Read the full article on Buzzfeed.