Gina Prince-Bythewood Discusses The Woman King and How the Black Panthers' Success Changed Everything

Gina Prince-Bythewood Discusses The Woman King and How the Black Panthers' Success Changed Everythin ...

The Woman King is now available in theaters, and I was invited to speak with Gina Prince-Bythewoods (The Old Guard, Love & Basketball) about the creation of the film inspired by true events. During the interview, Bythewood talked about how Ryan Coogler's Black Panther helped her to create The Woman King, the difficulties of filming the action scenes, and the editing process.

The Woman King chronicles the all-female unit of warriors that guarded the African Kingdom of Dahomey, one of Africa's most powerful states in the nineteenth and nineteenth centuries. Nanisca (Viola Davis) follows her as she prepares for battle against an adversary that threatens to destroy her way of life.

Dana Stevens directed and directed the film. The film's writers are Cathy Schulman, Viola Davis, Julius Tennon, and Maria Bello.

Gina Prince-Bythewood's comments may be seen above, or you may see our conversation here.

COLLIDER: I have a million questions for you, but do you think this will be realized without the success of Black Panther, which assured that fans would come out to see a whole black cast?

GINA PRINCE-BYTHEWOOD: I believe the success of Black Panther opened the way for this film to be made. It was developed prior to Black Panther's release, but it wasn't given the go-ahead. It changed everything, changed the game, changed culture, changed perception. Showed the value in our stories, and that people would come out and see our stories.

I thought you did an amazing job with Old Guard, and it allowed you to sort of play in that larger sandbox with action and more than you had done previously. What did you learn from doing that in this?

PRINCE-BYTHEWOOD: God, so much. Danny Hernandez was my fight coordinator in Old Guard. He was my second call when I got this. I'm like, "I need you to accompany me on this journey." Because he's brilliant, and our collaboration was fantastic. I understood what it takes to capture action. It's not or obvious. If you do not have it on set, you're not going to have it in the edit room.

When you're on take 14, 15, 16, and it's just not working, you can't stop. You can't suddenly say, "I'm running out of time and let's just go on." So, all of these actors, they wanted to be great. They never gave up. Some of the moves in there that you see in this film, I mean, they didn't quit till they got it right.

I'm going to commend you on... I watch a lot of movies and one of the things is I can totally tell when it's the stunt double when you're seeing the back of the head, when there are 20 cuts in three seconds to make it appear like there's action. But this is really being done on set. I know you didn't have Marvel funding to make this, so what ended up being the toughest thing that maybe the line producer's like, "You're not going to get that."

PRINCE-BYTHEWOOD: Oil battle. I had 11 days to complete it, and people said I wasn't strong enough to do it. I mean, the airplane fight in Old Guard, that was two people in a tin can and that was five days, so how do we do this fight? We had such a great plan, Danny and I and Polly Morgan, the DP, how we would capture everything.

I'm always fascinated by the editing process, and ultimately that's where everything comes together. Was there a shorter cut? Was there anything in the editing room that surprised you?

PRINCE-BYTHEWOOD: First and foremost, Terry Shropshire, who has edited every film of my own, every pilot, every music video, everything. She has given me the confidence and patience that I needed when it came to this because there's so much footage, so little time, and I knew that she could complete the job as it should be. If something goes wrong in the process, I still want an audience to see them.