The richness of the Black experience was the focal point throughout Beyoncé’s Black Is King, a stunning visual film that gave Disney+ a subscriber boost when it debuted on the service last month.
The film was, of course, a very Beyoncé experience, with her visual decisions meaningfully reflecting our current political moment while also reimagining The Lion King for a new audience. But it could’ve gone even deeper, if it wasn’t for the presence of the coronavirus.
As Black Is King’s directors recently told The Fader in a new interview, filming was forced to stop when COVID-19 became a pandemic in the spring, which, in turn, affected many creative decisions. “Definitely. We were planning to add more to the story,” Kwasi Fordjour explained. “We had to table that idea and really look at everything we had and go, Okay, this is what we’ve got, here is the messaging, here is the story. How can we enhance this? We had the key ingredients and all of those things helped tell the story the way we told it.”
Fellow director Blitz Bazawule added that unfilmed Black Is King scenes had to be sourced from remaining footage, which presented a unique challenge for the creative team — would they still be able to tell a unified story?
Well, we’d say so, but all of those pretty GIFs sure help. “COVID was such a shift in our entire worldview and I think the universe is so wise. The timing of this piece could not have been better,” Bazawule said. “The fact that we were planning to add more and the universe said nope. We were shooting so much content that we never fully watched or listened to, so we had to go back and create from what we already had.”
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