Filmmaker Cary Fukunaga is a waste not, want not kind of guy. When he puts time and effort into developing a project, he doesn’t just abandon it because it hasn’t been green-lit by a studio. Take his upcoming African child soldiers drama “Beasts Of No Nation,” which arrives in theaters and Netflix next week. Fukunaga wrote the adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala’s book sometime after “Sin Nombre” in 2009, and after trying to make it at Focus Features, stuck with the movie. In fact, the director suggested he was compelled to make the picture since he had already invested so much time on research and interviewing people from war-torn regions on top of working closely with the author.
“Once you start doing the research, once you start putting together material which inevitably be for publication, or in this case for distribution as a movie, there’s a responsibility that goes along with it,” he said.
To that end, Fukunaga confirmed he is still working on a musical with Arcade Fire’s Owen Pallett and Beirut’s Zach Condon, a project first announced in the late aughts. “These things that I’ve been working on for a long time, I want to get them made,” he said of his don’t-throw-passion-projects-away approach. “I still have to make a living every now and then in between them, but the musical is definitely alive.”
While he hasn’t been in touch with the musicians lately, he hopes they’ll still be on board when the time is right. “I haven’t talked to Owen [Pallet] in a while, but we’ve always stayed in touch,” he explained. “I haven’t talked to Zach [Condon] in a while either. But I’m still an enormous fan of their work, so as I get closer to having the libretto and a place where you can make the music, then I can reach out. Making the music: that’s the next fun part.”
Fukunaga confirmed the story is already in place — “It’s already been written. There’s sort of placeholders for songs” — but wants to try another approach before turning it into a movie. “I’ve decided rather than making it as a movie first, I want to make it as a play first,” he said. “So I’m actually adapting it for the stage first. That’s what I’m working on right now.”
The director described the project as “a love story, but it’s kind of about what happens after love and then before the next love — what happens in the between. It’s definitely, tonally, it would be a big departure from what I’ve done before.”
“Beasts Of No Nation” opens in limited release and begins streaming on Netflix on October 16th. More from this interview next week.
10/12/15 Update: Beirut’s Zach Condon has revealed some new details in a Daily Beast interview.
The publication says its “a musical about a boy and a girl in love, but trapped in parallel dimensions—a nod, Fukunaga’s said, to Pyramus and Thisbe. “The last time I talked to him was when he wanted me and Owen Pallett to score a musical in the vein of a Godard film,” Condon said. “I’ve tried scoring a film a few times. But every time, I get too caught up in what songs I want to write versus what they want for the scenes, so I get aggressively on the music side of things versus the soundscape side of things.”
The musician also revealed that Fukunaga wanted him to score his directorial debut “Sin Nombre,” but Condon got so immersed in the musical research he did in Oaxaca, Mexico, it ended up becoming his March of the Zapotec album released in 2009 instead.