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Filmmaker Toolkit Podcast: Andrea Arnold on Capturing the Poetic Realism of ‘American Honey’ (Episode 6)

The "Fish Tank" director talks about the seven-week road trip/shoot with Shia LaBeouf and a cast of non-professional actors.

"America Honey"

“American Honey”

A24

With her fourth feature, “American Honey,” British filmmaker Andrea Arnold (“Fish Tank”) has quickly established herself as one of the most original and vital creative voices working today. She is also a director with an incredibly interesting process for making her films.

After reading a New York Times article about “mag crews” — outcast kids from poor American towns who travel around the country selling magazine subscriptions — Arnold spent months road tripping throughout America researching and finding her cast of largely non-professional actors to anchor her own fictional crew.

READ MORE: Cannes Review: ‘American Honey’ Proves Andrea Arnold is One of the Best Working Filmmakers and Finds a Breakout Star in Sasha Lane

Arnold recently sat down with IndieWire to talk about her unique approach to scripting, casting and shooting her latest film, which received critical acclaim at Cannes and is being released by A24 at the end of the month.

 

Listen To The Entire Episode Above

In our discussion, Arnold breaks down:

  • How she’s opened up her scripting and casting process to allow for more real-life inspiration.
  • Why people are wrong in assuming her films aren’t scripted.
  • Shia LaBeouf integrating himself into a crew of non-professional actor: “How does it feel to roll up and have a huge reputation and there’s this very real cast, who have never done this before and don’t have any bones about being just who they are.”
  • Collaborating with DP Robbie Ryan and finding the balance between images that are “real” and “really good-looking.”
  • Why she shoots handheld: “I get fidgety if the tripod comes out or we start laying track.”
  • How she picked the songs for the “American Honey” soundtrack and her letter to Rihanna to get the rights for “We Found Love.”

The Filmmaker Toolkit podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud. Previous episodes include Ira Sachs on writing “Little Men,” Web Series 101, “Kate Plays Christine” director Robert Greene on cinematic nonfiction, Kirsten Johnson discussing her life as a “Cameraperson,” and the “Night of” location manager on shooting in New York.

The music used in this podcast is from the “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present” score, courtesy of composer Nathan Halpern.

You can check out the rest IndieWire’s podcasts in iTunes.

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