Directed by Sam Levinson, “Malcolm & Marie”, available on Netflix, is one of the first films shot in the midst of a pandemic. Back to a risky, but organized shoot.
Without COVID-19, Malcolm & Marie would never have existed. The Netflix film, which brings Zendaya and John David Washington together as a couple in crisis, was born out of frustration. It all starts in March 2020. While the filming of season 2 of Euphoria is imminent, the containment phase forces all productions to cease their activity. The enthusiasm behind this new adventure is stopped dead. Very quickly, Zendaya implores Sam Levinson, the filmmaker, to write him another project to fill this missed appointment. He thus wrote the first lines of Malcolm & Marie, which is directly inspired by an anecdote lived with his wife, Ashley Levinson.
While he continues to write, the director thinks of the actor likely to give the answer to his favorite actress. He sets his sights on John David Washington, already seduced by the idea. The weeks go by, the confinement ends and the resumption of filming becomes a possibility. To shoot, a location is given: Carmel, in northern California. The city is the only one in the state to “allow filming on private property without a permit“Says the press release. Well aware of the risks the team is running, producer Kevin Turen says he is ready to take on the label of”most COVID vigilant film crew in movie history“.
A total of 22 people come to Carmel. Two actors and 20 technicians. In forced quarantine, Sam Levinson takes the opportunity to finish writing the script. The whole team meets in the Caterpillar House, the film’s unique setting. In order to avoid external contact as much as possible, displacements are reduced. Gloves, masks and visors are compulsory. Tests are carried out regularly by a doctor and a nurse. “Everyone had their room and stayed away from the others, but it felt like we were in summer camp“, remembers the producer.
Make way for system D
The small team favors the D system. Zendaya took care of her hairstyle and makeup herself. She also improvised as a costume designer: “I had brought extra outfits in case the production needed them to dress the set, she explains. There is also a scene where I throw my shoes against the closet and these are my own shoes.“Vigilance is also essential on the set. Without a script present on the set, the coherence of the scenes had to be ensured by the whole team.”If we put an object somewhere, we had to remember where we put it“Zendaya recalls.
But the production of Malcolm & Marie has also created jobs. Maintenance workers, landscapers and cooks were hired. To reward professionals who took risks on the project, an important decision is made on revenue. As Sam Levinson explains, “all [les] heads of post own an asset share of the film “. “I think it reinforced the feeling that we were all united, and I hope that this is a way of operating that we can perpetuate in the future “, he continues. Ashley Levinson, producer, admits: “We couldn’t have made this movie without them. Proceeds from any future sale of the feature film are donated to Feeding America, a national network of food banks.
Discover our interview with the “Malcolm & Marie” team: