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"NOPE" - Photographed on 65mm Film
Production Information

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The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Universal PicturesDate: 06.08.2022

UNIVERSAL PICTURES PRESENTS, A MONKEYPAW PRODUCTION, A JORDAN PEELE FILM

NOPE

DANIEL KALUUYA, KEKE PALMER, STEVEN YEUN, MICHAEL WINCOTT, BRANDON PEREA, KEITH DAVID

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, ROBERT GRAF, WIN ROSENFELD

PRODUCED BY IAN COOPER p.g.a.

WRITTEN PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY JORDAN PEELE
 

 

The Synopsis

 
Director Jordan Peele on the set of “Nope" with IMAX 65mm film camera.  Universal Pictures

Oscar® winner JORDAN PEELE disrupted and redefined modern horror with Get Out in 2017 and then Us in 2019. Now, he reimagines the summer movie with the expansive new horror epic, Nope, a dark pop nightmare of uncanny science fiction and complex social thriller that unpacks the seeds of violence, risk and opportunism that are inseparable from the romanticized history of the American West … and from show business itself.

The film reunites Peele with Oscar® winner DANIEL KALUUYA (Get Out, Judas and the Black Messiah), who is joined by KEKE PALMER (Hustlers, Alice) and Oscar® nominee STEVEN YEUN (Minari, Okja) as residents in a lonely gulch of inland California who bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery.

Nope is situated just outside of Los Angeles, in Southern California’s arid and rambling Santa Clarita Valley, where siblings OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer), have inherited a horse ranch from their industry-legend father, Otis Haywood Sr. (Emmy winner KEITH DAVID; 21 Bridges, Crash), carrying the torch of his craft as animal wranglers for film and television. It’s a tough business, and despite their skills and the artistry of their profession, OJ and Emerald face financial challenges and the heartbreak inherent to a trade where livestock is the talent. Adjacent to the Haywood ranch sits Jupiter’s Claim, a family-fun theme park and petting zoo predicated on the white-washed history and aesthetics of the California Gold Rush, owned and operated with evangelical pride by Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun), a former child star who is saddled with a tabloid-tragic backstory that he has spent a lifetime trying to escape.
 
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OJ and Emerald begin observing unexplained phenomena on their vast ranch that leads them down an obsessive rabbit hole—plotting attempts to capture the mystery on camera. The hijinks of their quest for documentation, through increasingly elaborate and dangerous set-ups, puts at risk the only thing they truly have: the hard-earned business of their late John Henry-esque father, who has left them in his long shadow. Things escalate, as the siblings enlist the expert help of Fry’s Electronics store employee Angel Torres (BRANDON PEREA; The OA, American Insurrection), and acclaimed cinematographer Antlers Holst (MICHAEL WINCOTT; Hitchcock, Westworld), who is on the cusp of retirement. As their efforts, and hubris, cross a point-of-no-return, ratcheting the stakes to terrifying consequences, our heroes are drawn straight into the eye of an irreversible storm. The result is an expansive horror-spectacle with an intimate and emotionally complex core.

Nope is written, produced and directed by JORDAN PEELE and produced by IAN COOPER p.g.a. (Us, Candyman) for Monkeypaw Productions. The film’s executive producers are ROBERT GRAF (Bombshell, No Country for Old Men, True Grit) and WIN ROSENFELD (Hunters, BlacKkKlansman).

The film co-stars WRENN SCHMIDT (For All Mankind) and BARBIE FERREIRA (Euphoria), TERRY NOTARY (The Square), DEVON GRAYE (I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore), Daytime Emmy winner DONNA MILLS (Knots Landing), OSGOOD PERKINS (director Gretel & Hansel) and EDDIE JEMISON (Ocean’s 11 franchise).

Nope’s artistic team includes Oscar®-nominated Director of Photography HOYTE VAN HOYTEMA ASC, FSF, NSC (Dunkirk, Let the Right One In); Production Designer RUTH DE JONG (Twin Peaks, Manchester by the Sea), Oscar®-winning Visual Effects Supervisor GUILLAUME ROCHERON (1917, Life of Pi), and editor NICHOLAS MONSOUR (Us, Action Point). The costumes are designed by ALEX BOVAIRD (The White Lotus, American Honey), the music is by MICHAEL ABELS (Bad Education, Get Out), and the casting is by Emmy Award winner CARMEN CUBA, CSA (The Power of the Dog, Stranger Things). Nope will be released by Universal Pictures worldwide.
 
 

The Backstory

 
In the wake of the success of Get Out and Us, both of which disrupted and redefined the horror genre in singular ways, Jordan Peele was eager to expand his cinematic canvas, embrace a challenge unlike any in his filmmaking career so far and tackle the granddaddy of genre movies: the summer event film. “Nope is of a bigger scope than any story I’ve ever tried to tell,” Jordan Peele says. “And from a filmmaking perspective, the process has been an adventure unto itself. Every single department has taken huge risks and committed full tilt. I tried to write a script for a movie that I didn’t know how to pull off. And then I assembled a team to help me pull it off.”

As he began to explore options, one particular subgenre of summer event films felt particularly ripe for reinvention. “I had this idea of making the Great American UFO movie — a flying saucer horror film,” Peele says. “And not only a flying saucer horror film, but really, the quintessential one. It’s a difficult genre and hard to pull off because it’s got this huge canvas that you have to take into account — the sky. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a huge influence of mine in its scope and in its vision, but more than anything, in Steven Spielberg's ability to make us feel like we’re in the presence of something from another world. That immersive experience was something I desperately wanted to chase as well. Within that genre, though, we often apply all these wonderful qualities to some advanced alien civilization. But what if the truth is a lot simpler and darker than we even could ever imagine?”

As with all Jordan Peele films, whatever you think Nope is going to be as you enter the theater, you’re in for more than a few surprises. “The reason that we’re so withholding in our trailers and in our advertising materials is that we all secretly know that the most fun to be had is coming into something with less information,” producer Ian Cooper says. “Jordan designs movies that are the maximal fun if you’re not quite sure what you’re getting into.”

You’ll definitely never look at the sky the same way again. “Obviously, this is a horror movie, but it has a science-fictional conceit,” Cooper says. “It was really important for us to feel the balance and ensure that it felt more horror than science fiction. Early on, Jordan was saying, ‘I’m hopeful that people will look at clouds after this movie the way they looked at the surface of the ocean in Jaws.’ Even during filming, when we would have real clouds in the sky, you could imagine how unnerving it would be to have that phobia.”

As with all Peele films, Nope delves into deeper themes and ideas as it thrills, terrifies and entertains. The film is both a spectacle itself, and an examination of how spectacle shapes our culture and our ideas of ourselves. When the film’s central characters encounter this unexplained phenomenon in the skies around Haywood Ranch, each of them, for different reasons and different ways, is drawn to the pursuit of documenting this anomaly. “The DNA of the movie has this big question about the human addiction to spectacle,” Peele says. “And what happens when money becomes involved is that there’s this massive exploitation of what should be pure and what should be natural.”
The film’s initial title, in fact, made the theme explicit. “The title that Jordan was originally thinking of was ‘Little Green Men,’ so even from the earliest conversations, there was an intertwining between the idea of the quest for fame and fortune, and the quest for documenting existence of life beyond Earth,” Cooper says. “The double entendre of ‘Little Green Men’ was a way in which you could talk about dollar bills as well as talk about aliens and the unknown.”

Nope is also an exploration and critique of filmmaking and film industry itself. “I set out to design something that criticized what we do as much as it honors it,” Peele says. It reveals the lives of the skilled, behind-the-scenes artists (known as “below-the-line” crew in industry parlance)—the animal wranglers, cinematographers, technology experts—who create the indelible images we see on screen but who are never seen themselves. And it shines a light on the realities of discarded actors, particularly child actors, who are abandoned by the industry once they cease to be adorable bankable assets. “Nope is a movie about the quest both to be seen and — to use that Millennial expression — ‘Pics or it never happened’,” Cooper says. “It’s also an unpacking of the existential crisis of being a below-the-line person in the dichotomy in Hollywood—basically being visible or not visible—yet both integral and complicit in creating the spectacle on screen.”

That idea is encapsulated in a famous series of 16 sequential photographs depicting a Black jockey on a horse. Created by Eadweard Muybridge in 1887, the loop of cards, known as Animal Locomotion, Plate 626, is one of the earliest examples of chronophotography, an early method to photographically record the passing of time, and it created the foundation for what would become motion pictures and the bedrock of the entire film industry. These photographs are in the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The name of the horse and the name of its owner are recorded. The name of the Black jockey, however, is not, and is lost to history. “Ian Cooper was the one who gave me the book on Eadweard Muybridge,” Peele says. “And that was really the ‘in’ to uncover some of the commentary, the exploration of the media, of Hollywood and the film industry itself — and the exploitation that is kind of inherent in this industry and always has been.”
 
 
Hoyte van Hoytema and Jordan Peele on the set of “Nope.” Glen Wilson/Universal Pictures

The symbolism of those images is hard to shake. “Jordan was drawn to the idea that the original movie star — the actor, stuntman and animal wrangler — is rolled up all in one into the Eadweard Muybridge Jockey; an unknown Black man in profile riding in perpetuity,” Cooper says.

In the film, siblings OJ and Emerald Haywood are the descendants and inheritors of that legacy on both a literal and metaphorical level. “In its core, this movie is about a brother and sister, and about their ability to go from a place of not connecting to a place of understanding each other and acknowledging that they have always sort of seen each other,” Peele says. “The film is about spectacle and our addiction to spectacle, and the fact that we’re being drawn to it. But it’s also about our inner need to be seen, to be recognized for who we are and what we are.”

And, in the personalities, OJ and Emerald reflect the duality of the industry and within Peele himself. OJ prefers the peace and solitude of anonymity and derives pleasure from his work. Emerald seeks the attention and the light. “In many ways, OJ and Emerald represent two different sides of my personality,” Peele says. “On one hand, I like my privacy. The idea of a bunch of people turning to look at me all at once is terrifying to me, as it is to most people. At the same time, I went into this career that puts me right in front of everybody. So, this crazy juxtaposition in my life is kind of what these characters are about.”

It’s also worth noting that Nope, just by its existence, is a kind of commentary on the anonymity of that Black jockey in 1887 and the increasingly visibility of Black, Indigenous and People of Color both in front of and behind the camera. “This movie’s not about race per se, although race does interact with this idea of spectacle-ization and exploitation,” Peele says. “But the movie, in itself, is meant to be a film that couldn't be made five years ago, in that it’s an original piece of content, starring people of color, directed by a person of color, with a big budget and some crazy shit in it. That movie’s not supposed to be made. So, in the soul of the film, just by existing, we have some obligation to acknowledge all the people who haven’t been allowed to take a bow, all the people who haven’t been allowed an opportunity to succeed or fail. I think that’s what the movie is about.”

It’s also, on a pure entertainment level, just one hell of a fun ride. “Nope was written in 2020 during the pandemic,” Peele says. “It was this crazy time. In a lot of ways, the film is a reflection of all the horrors that happened that year and are still happening. In a way, this film was my escape from the day to day and what I want to offer the audience is an escape from theirs.” As for the title, he says, “Nope means a lot of things. I always love to get into the head of my audience. And I feel like there’s a lot of people that don’t want to see a horror movie and don’t want to see something that dark or that fucked up. Nope is an invitation to them, to sort of say, ‘Hey, I see you, and this movie will be scary, but at the very least, I’m bringing you in. I’m acknowledging you have a place in this this genre.’ And because, as you know, Black people have some pretty simple rules, and there’s just certain things that are just going to make us go, “’Nope! Done! Out! I’m gone!’”

For both Peele and Cooper, who have been friends since their teens, the film, on a personal level, is a tribute to their younger selves. “When I was 15 years old, Ian and I would just watch movies,” Peele says. “While our other friends and other teenagers were out doing cool shit, like drugs or each other or something, we were in a room trying to choose between Alien and Point Break. So, it’s such a great honor to get to go through this whole process with him. He’s such an incredible artist that I knew he had the skill set to amount to the best producer in film. I can’t do what I do alone. Ian is like having a one-man army who’s always watching my back.” Adds Cooper: “We talk a lot about trying to make movies that we would have loved when we were young and would have wanted to watch again and again to understand better. I think part of our dedication to making films as nuanced and complex as we do is to service the time-machine notion of appealing to the dreamers that we were when we were 15.”

Those 15-year-old dreamers are now actively reinventing the genre films they studied all those years ago. “I love genre because there’s an expectation,” Peele says. “It’s a collection of guidelines or rules with how you tell certain stories to certain emotional effect. And, as audience members, we’ve all really compartmentalized that, and it really helps us know what movie we’re going to see. That gives us an opportunity to subvert that. Right when you think you’re supposed to be scared, you get something that’s going to make you laugh. When you expect something that’s going to be funny, you get something that might make you cry instead. Through that process of trying to subvert genre, what we’ve ended up with are films that you can't quite categorize.”
 
 

The Characters

 
Daniel Kaluuya as OJ Haywood

The role of OJ Haywood reunites Daniel Kaluuya and Jordan Peele for the first time since Get Out in 2017. OJ is also unlike any character the Oscar® winner has played before. A man of few words but noble actions, OJ is the moral center of the film. The sudden and mysterious death of his famous father, Otis Haywood Sr. (Keith David), has left OJ struggling to run their family ranch, which trains horses for film and television productions. Although he works in Hollywood, his world is mostly isolated to the Haywood Ranch in Agua Dulce, and he’s most comfortable doing his work and keeping his head down. When his sister Emerald (Keke Palmer) returns to the ranch, some old tensions and wounds begin to surface.
“When you meet OJ, it’s after his dad passes away from a strange incident that he can’t explain,” Kaluuya says. “He goes back to manage the horse ranch, and then he’s just in a place where everything is unraveling. His sister comes back into his life, and there’s friction. He’s kind of figuring out his purpose, figuring out why he’s here, trying to answer all the odd questions that he has, and he goes on a journey.”

Peele wrote the character of OJ with Kaluuya in mind. “This is my favorite Daniel Kaluuya role, I have to say, and, whenever I get to work with him, I'm thrilled because I know it's about a very common emotional language we have,” Peele says. “We're just ultimately very honest with each other and so our conversations feel like these kind of heat-seeking missiles.”

Peele was able to write OJ with sparse dialogue, knowing that his star could communicate layers of emotion and meaning with a single look. “I utilized the fact that Daniel is just so immensely watchable,” Peele says. “OJ is a man of few words, and I know Daniel is the type of performer that doesn't need words to communicate. He's somebody that in these quiet moments brings the audience in even more. There are moments of this movie that are at OJ's pace, and I need them to be as fascinating as the moments of the movie that are at Emerald's pace. Daniel is the only guy that could have pulled that off. One of the ingredients that makes him the incredible actor he is that he’s a watcher and he’s a listener. He’s observing everything around him and he’s sensitive to it. And in a protagonist, that’s what you want: somebody who the audience can relate to because they’re also watching.”

For Kaluuya, the role was an opportunity to delve deep into OJ’s interior life. “I love how silent OJ is,” Kaluuya says. “I go silent a lot and I stop talking sometimes. So, I love the scene on screen of just a man thinking, a man in himself. It’s been a different kind of acting experience because a look can be a line. In some scenes, I know that my thought or my look is going to say something to the audience. I’m the audience’s surrogate, and sometimes I’m ahead, in terms of information. I’ve got to help them understand it. So as an actor, you’ve got to be very clear about what you’re thinking.”

OJ’s relationship with his sister is the film’s emotional center. “The way Jordan discussed it, Emerald got the personality of her dad,” Kaluuya says. “So, she’s the natural successor to the ranch, in terms of her energy and personality, but OJ is the one that stayed. There’s family politics, but there’s also just an innate love for each other, which is the most exciting thing about this film: showing a brother and sister being friends and being real.”

Both siblings are a period of instability and upheaval in their lives. “They both seem rudderless to a certain extent,” Ian Cooper says. “OJ is lost in the dogma of his father’s training without any opportunity for free thought. His main goal is to perpetuate his father’s business, which he inherited, to make ends meet. And Emerald, on the other side of the coin, is someone who is in a constant state of trying to reinvent, trying to be seen, trying to grow beyond the rigidity and isolation of her upbringing.”

As OJ, Kaluuya spent a lot of time with horses and riding horses and found the experience both grounding and moving. “I really loved OJ’s relationship with horses,” Kaluuya says. “I didn’t know how to ride a horse really, and I had less than a month to learn. But I knew what I was looking for because, for me, the key of OJ is his connection with the horses. They’re genuinely his friends. So, I knew I had to understand animal life at a different level and see how he sees himself through his friends. I feel like he grieves with the horses. There’s a communication there. There is a truth that horses have spirits. They have personalities. It sounds strange, but I think OJ is connected to the Earth.”

Since Kaluuya and Peele first worked together five years ago, their lives have dramatically changed. They both have Academy Awards now, for starters, and their careers have skyrocketed, and the actor took note of how his director has evolved. “Jordan has really grown as a filmmaker,” Kaluuya says. “Get Out was a straight sprint, but Nope is bigger in scale and in scope. It’s just a different style of filmmaking now. He’s looking into characters and looking into moments with incredible set-ups that sear into your mind. It’s a different rhythm, a different pace.”

But what drew them together years ago remains unchanged. “What I love about Jordan’s films is that they’re hard to describe,” Kaluuya says. “They have to be experienced. There’s always a real eternal premise and then a real truth in the middle of it.” The screenplay for Nope was mysterious and unlike any Kaluuya had read, but he knew he could trust the man who wrote it. “I always lean in when I don’t know what something is,” Kaluuya says. “But I can only lean in when I know that the director is passionate about it, that they understand it, that they feel it. And that’s always true of Jordan.”
 
 
Keke Palmer as Emerald Haywood

An aspiring actor, singer and stuntwoman, Emerald Haywood, played by Keke Palmer, seems, at first, to be the opposite of her brother OJ in fundamental ways. Charming and extroverted, she seeks attention to compensate for her bruised upbringing, and she can’t bear solitude and silence. She would rather be rootless, couch-surfing or sleeping on the noisy streets of Hollywood than return to the constrained isolation of her family home. A defining moment from her childhood forever shaped her relationship with OJ and their father. She has a tight bond with OJ, despite her avoidance of her role in the family business.

“Emerald Haywood doesn’t really have a lot going on, but she knows how to talk her way out of anything,” Palmer says. “She’s got charisma. She knows how to connect with people, but she doesn’t have a lot of discipline, and she has no clear direction of where she’s going. She’s at that crossroad phase that many of us have gone through where we kind of hate going back home because it reminds us of who we were, and that’s not who we are now and we don’t know if we feel good about that or not. But at the same time, home is where your heart is, and you have to experience the world in some of the bad ways to really come to appreciate that.”

Jordan Peele first worked with Palmer a decade ago and knew she would be perfect for the role. “Keke has always been Emerald for me,” Peele says. “I worked with her 10 years ago on Key & Peele. She did a little guest spot, playing Malia Obama’s anger translator. I think Keke has this quality that has the shine, and I wanted Emerald to have that quality, that spark. There’s just something about Emerald’s energy that is infectious, and you feel like there is destiny at play, like she’s going to get whatever stars she’s reaching for. With a lot of my characters, I’m known to write towards actors. And then when I get to meet with them and talk to them, I find ways to push the characters into new places. And so, as a collaborator, I couldn’t ask for any better than Keke.”

Emerald also embodies some of the film’s central themes, as she lives most of her life publicly, on social media. “Emerald’s obsession with social media and in being an influencer is a big part of what we’re talking about in the movie, in terms of always chasing something outside of yourself or looking for something to validate you,” Palmer says. “Emerald is so attracted to that, whether because she grew up in California or she grew up around the movie industry or because she just wants to be seen and has never felt seen. I think everybody can relate to Emerald because so many of us, whether we want to admit it or not, have that desire to just be seen.”

Her relationship with her brother hides a deeper wound for Emerald, and he’s unquestionably the closest relationship in her life. “Emerald’s relationship with OJ is very pure and honest,” Palmer says. “It’s what you would see in a bromance, where there’s a lot that goes unsaid. There’s a lot that’s just felt but not heard, so you might not really be able to tell how close they are until shit really hits the fan.”

When it does hit the fan – and hard – Emerald proves herself a force to be reckoned with. “Emerald’s the kind of character that usually only guys get to play,” Palmer says. “She’s cool, she’s fearless. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, but at the same time she has edge. She’s just really dope.”

For Palmer, the experience of making Nope and working with Peele inspired her to reflect on the state of our culture and ourselves. “For me, the film is about chasing something far outside of yourself and chasing it to such an extent that you don’t realize, until it’s too late, what you already had,” Palmer says. “Whether it’s getting involved in what’s happening on the news or getting crazy-involved in your career, we all do it, I think. We’re almost like moths always going toward the light. We know we don’t really need to go toward the light, but we’ve somehow lost the self-control to resist it. It’s about saying no to those superficial things that are not really serving us. We’re losing ourselves without even realizing it when, really, the love we’re looking for, the validation and security we’re looking for, it was always there. It was always within you, and usually at home with your family.”
 
 
Steven Yeun as Ricky “Jupe” Park

Played by Oscar® nominee Steven Yeun, Ricky “Jupe” Park is a former child star exploited and then discarded by Hollywood, who, in his adulthood, has tried to monetize his exploitation by creating the California Gold Rush theme park, “Jupiter’s Claim,” named after a famous character he played in a hit film. “Jupe Park was part of this big film called Kid Sheriff,” Yeun says. “He wasn't the lead, but he blew up. And then he was given a sitcom in the ’90s, during which he was subject to an incredibly horrific, infamous event one day on the show. After that, his career was never the same. He was never able to get the same type of heat and work that he had in the past. And now you’re finding him as an adult, having been locked in a mindset from that time, which I don't know if he’s completely aware of.”

On multiple levels, Jupe represents the darker side of the entertainment industry. “Celebrity — especially for young kids when they have not yet formed — can be an identity that they hold for themselves,” Yeun says. “The danger is that they become a kind of amalgamation of everyone else’s projections. And so, for Jupe, maybe he’s just trying to appease those projections and fit into the mold that has been placed upon him. In some ways, the way in which he’s held captive by that gaze, by that spectacle that he had been turned into, is almost a comfort for him — a comfortable prison that he can understand.”

Jupe isn’t just imprisoned by his past, his imprisoned by a fantasy that dominates both his reality and his identity. “As a child actor, Jupe was really betrayed by the industry, and yet all these years later, he still wants it,” Jordan Peele says. “He still hasn’t woken up from that dream. The real scarring of this industry of being seen is that whatever happens to you, you’re taught that you’re still supposed to want it, and that your worth is tied to how you’re seen, how you’re portrayed, how successful you are in this industry. Even after it’s taken from you, it doesn't necessarily mean you're out of that addiction. Jupe is forever addicted to the spectacle.”

Married with three showbiz-ready sons, Jupe learns of the mysterious phenomenon at the Haywood Ranch and senses a golden opportunity. “For Jupe, this unexplained phenomenon at the ranch is a ticket,” Yeun says. “It's a ticket back to where he thinks he wants to be. He thinks it will free him from the binds of other people's expectations, but he can’t escape himself and his own constructed prison. This phenomenon may be his awakening, but it may also be his destruction.”

Jupiter’s Claim is also one of the film’s most spectacular sets and is now a permanent attraction on the world-famous studio tour at Universal Studios Hollywood. Yeun vividly remembers the first time he saw it during filming. “When I first walked onto the Jupiter’s Claim set, I remember feeling like, ‘Oh, this is Jupe’s nightmare. This is his fever dream. This is his prison that he doesn't know that he’s constructed,’” Yeun says. “Jupiter’s Claim feels like something born of an entrepreneur, but when you look at the details, the scary thing is that Jupe is really just caught in a reality that was imposed upon him.”

Within Jupe’s story is the story of a tragedy on the set of the TV show Gordy’s Home, which ended both the show and Jupe’s career.

Throughout Nope, characters are revealed to each other, to us the audience, and often to themselves in unexpected ways. “That feeling of living a life that has been constructed by other people’s expectations or projections of who you are, is something that we’re all kind of going through as a culture now,” Yeun says. “We’re all participating on the internet, we’re all participating on social media, and many of us are creating public personas that shape how others see us and how we see ourselves, and we’re becoming aware of what that’s doing to us.”
 
 
Michael Wincott as Antlers Holst

Antlers Holst is a reclusive, revered cinematographer on the cusp of retirement who finds himself drawn into OJ and Emerald’s world when they contact him and ask him to film this mysterious phenomenon at their ranch, a phenomenon that seems, in fact to be unfilmable. Played by Michael Wincott, Holst is unflappable, jaded and a little cranky, but is unable to resist the request. Enticed by the challenge, he’s addicted to spectacle, and has spent his career complicit with the exploitation inherent in the film industry.

“As our cinematographer expert trying to capture this crazy situation, Holst brings in a meta element to the movie — because it is a film about making films,” Jordan Peele says. “Holst is, for all intents and purposes, the wizard of this story. He unlocks the key to make the whole mission possible. I think a lot of people will probably draw the connection correctly between his character and Robert Shaw in Jaws.”

Holst, Wincott says, “is an enigmatic figure. He’s Jordan’s Ahab, obsessively pursuing an answer to his and others’ frailty. It isn’t only the perfect shot that so consumes him.”

In a bit of meta preparation, Wincott spent time with Nope cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema to help learn the skills of the art. “Jordan had Michael shadow me to learn about cameras,” Hoytema says. “We taught him how to operate, how to see light and all about the technology. He was very interested and engaged. It was nice to spitball a little with Michael and Jordan, because cinematographers are always portrayed in very caricature-esque ways: they are these freaks who love nerding out about equipment. So, choosing Holst’s gear became very important, and we were meticulous about his cameras and what they should be and how they should work. We started rebuilding some cameras for him as well. We re-engineered the Mark II camera, the very IMAX camera that went up to space. We built a hand crank for it with the help of Panavision, as well as the Reflex 2C, which is a classic 35 millimeter camera. So, he was kitted out, and he was even nerdier than most cinematographers I know in real life. And as you see, I wear a scarf. It's part of my day-to-day kit. And if you see the movie, you’ll see that Holst is wearing a scarf as well. And it’s actually one of my scarves that he's wearing. Authenticity is very important.”

Wincott relished every moment as he shaped his role. “I employed my memorable time spent with the marvelous Hoyte Van Hoytema,” Wincott says. “The black silk-cashmere scarf Holst wears in the film was his gift to me; my talisman. A gentle, extraordinary craftsman, devoted to his work; a lovely man and mentor.”

Working with Peele was equally inspiring. “Jordan made every day a joy,” Wincott says. “I resented time off. Remarkably bright and generous. A beautiful soul. Dedicated to the extraordinary. His childlike wonder at making movies. His constant discovery and curiosity. His insight. His abundant humour. The radiant cast. His devoted Ian Cooper. The exemplary crew. His singular gift. He’s what Scorsese would characterize as ‘a smuggler,’ a director who can work within the system while preserving and expressing his subversive voice. Ostensibly this is a story of the otherworldly but, obliquely, in Jordan’s hands, something more complex and troublingly human is being addressed.”

Brandon Perea as Angel Torres

Angel Torres is an angsty Fry’s Electronics employee who assists OJ and Emerald with installing surveillance equipment at their ranch and gets drawn into their quest for documenting the unexplained phenomenon they’ve encountered. Beneath his bleach-blonde veneer of post-punk angst and box-store malaise lies a heartbroken young man who is still hopeful and will become an unlikely, but exceedingly valuable ally to OJ and Emerald.

“Angel’s our tech expert, and something of a comic-relief character,” Jordan Peele says. “I needed a character that would come in and bring with him some of the alien lore, and Angel is a diehard Ancient Aliens fan.” Angel also often the one pointing out how batshit crazy the whole situation is. “Angel is a kind of audience avatar character because he’s often stating things or asking things that the audience may be asking or thinking, much like Rod in Get Out,” Ian Cooper says. “But he also gets quite willingly tangled up in this insane mission. Each of these characters has trauma, something driving them towards this crazy, dangerous mission. And I think Angel is in a place of angst and wanting to prove himself to the world. He’s a Fry’s Electronics employee who probably feels like he’s bigger than that and wants more.”

Brandon Perea was not exactly how Peele originally envisioned the role when he wrote the screenplay, but the young actor clearly made an impression. After auditioning for the role, he got a Zoom call from Peele. Early in the conversation, Perea suspected Peele was calling to let him down gently. “Jordan said, ‘You brought something so different to the table that I had to meet you, but you’re really different than what I wrote for the script. If I were to put you in this movie, I’ll have to rewrite my entire movie,’” Perea says. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, that sounds tough. I guess that’s probably not going to happen.’ And he's like, ‘So that’s what I'm going to do — I'm going to rewrite my movie. You got the part!’ I just busted out in tears crying.”

Perea was fascinated by Angel, his interests and motivations. “Angel claims to be the smartest in the room, and he gets annoyed if people aren’t at his level of intelligence,” Perea says. “He feels very misunderstood, and walks around feeling like everyone else is dumb— especially dealing with customers at Fry's. He’s like, ‘Do you even know how a cell phone works?’ He’s looking for something to fulfill his destiny because he doesn’t really know what his destiny is. This opportunity with OJ and Emerald is something that he’s just like, ‘It's my time. We discovered this thing; I need to be a part of that history.’ He’s a college dropout, and this is his opportunity to say to everyone, ‘I told you so.’ I feel him fighting for that told-you-so moment.”

Like Emerald, Angel is a plugged-in guy who’s far more comfortable with chaos than solitude. “Angel is that late-night nocturnal type of cat who just can’t sleep and there’s always got to be noise or something going on,” Perea says. “I feel like this dude will be playing a video game while Ancient Aliens is on in the background and a podcast is running as well. He just needs to keep feeding and learning and he needs people to keep talking to keep his mind busy because if he’s sitting in silence, he’ll go nuts.”

In a bit of serendipity, playing an employee of the famed Fry’s Electronics, which closed its doors in 2021, also brought back some good memories for the actor. “I remember reading the script and seeing that Angel works at Fry's Electronics and I wigged out because my brothers and I used to go to the Fry’s in Chicago when we were growing up,” Perea says. “It was just a crazy full-circle moment for me.”
 
 

The Unexplained Phenomenon

 
Something is in the sky and it is abducting people and animals, but what it is, exactly, is a mystery to both the characters and the audience until the final moments of the film. In the film, OJ Haywood names it Jean Jacket. “That’s pure Jordan Peele,” Ian Cooper says. “Naming the entity Jean Jacket gave me goosebumps because it felt like a disturbance of pop culture. Also, there’s obviously an evocation of a jean jacket being essentially an empty shell. So, I think there’s something both pop and fucked up about naming this alien entity Jean Jacket.”
• In the film, Jean Jacket was the name of one of the horses at the Haywood Ranch that Emerald was promised as a kid. OJ chooses Jean Jacket’s name in honor of that.
• Jean Jacket hides in the clouds, which required clouds to be in the exact same formation for three straight days of shooting or more, which obviously is impossible. So, the visual effects team had to create a CG cloudscape system to art direct the composition, formation and speed of the clouds. The effects team spent nine months implementing this system.
• In part because the visual effects team had to create so many specific shots of the sky and clouds, the film has about 700 visual effects shots. There are only a handful of shots with real clouds in them across the entire film.
• Jean Jacket has a single aperture on the bottom that’s always open, a big hole that’s about 250 feet wide. Jean Jacket’s eye is a green square nestled deep within its shell. You become its victim if you look at it too long.
• To give Jean Jacket’s movements some basis in the natural world, the producers consulted with JOHN DABIRI, an engineering professor at CalTech who studies biological systems like jellyfish and birds and tries to apply them to create new technologies. They discussed ion propulsion and underwater animal biology to help imagine Jean Jacket’s motion.
• Once Peele explained to Dabiri how he imagined the entity would move and behave, Debiri explained the biology of jellyfish, which possess a similar combination of efficiency, voracious appetite, stealthiness and being very lightweight.
• Another inspiration for Jean Jacket’s look and motion was the hyper minimalism of Japanese anime, Evangelion, which has a “biomechanical design flair.”
• In addition to organic references, such as sea creatures and birds, the VFX team studied origami to inspire the the unfolding of how Jean Jacket unfurls and reveals its inner self.
• It took 18 months of constant refining to design the look of Jean Jacket.
 
 

The Locations & Production Design

 
Jupiter’s Claim

The film’s production designer Ruth De Jong previously worked with Peele on Us. When she and Peele started to kick around the idea of the western town for Nope, they knew that it had to be built from the ground up. “We don’t have a ton of scenes there but they’re very important, pivotal scenes, and I think building this entire town and the stadium and connecting it to the ranch just became a requirement in the ethos of how we wanted to shoot this and show these places,” De Jong says. “I began marinating on old western towns, studying them all up and down California, Montana, Nevada, Arizona. I started watching a lot of Westerns like Heaven’s Gate and Once Upon a Time in the West, looking at those sets and those towns, but realizing we didn’t want the traditional. We wanted the bones of a traditional western town, but really wanted to make it our own present-day park, and hence the vibrancy you see. It’s a bit of a western town on acid. It's very multi-colored. We built it at three-quarters scale, so that’s why all the doors seem a bit stunted. But it’s really for kids, and it’s just this really epic theme park that we wanted to make practical, 360 and connected. I want everyone to go, like, ‘Jupiter's Claim, how have we not been to it?’”

Within the western town, Jupiter’s Claim, is a Sea World-esque stadium in the shape of a horseshoe. “We liked the idea that it had a County Fair music venue vibe, just wood and the dirt, and also like Field of Dreams, like, you go through the corn fields and then this thing is here,” De Jong says.

For Peele the set was pivotal to get right. “Jupiter’s Claim is one of these elements that sets this film apart from a different horror movie,” Peele says. “There is this level of uncanny intrigue in this sort of satire of the American dream. Jupe's Claim is kind of an exploration of capitalism. The coins that they use are called Jupe Jangle and for $40, adults and kids can buy a pan. The kid can go get some gold in the babbling brook over there. Exchange the gold for some Jupe Jangle, go buy some things. Get more Jupe Jangle, you get a better hat. The whole town is an allegory for capitalism.”
• All of the buildings in Jupiter’s Claim have functional interiors. The Western town includes: a sheriff’s office, a petting zoo, a steam train, a gold-panning station, candy store, general store, saloon, post office, barber shop, the assay office where kids can bring their gold, blacksmith, leather company, fire station, livery, church, cemetery and a horse-shoe shaped stadium with seating for 938.
• The 1:4 scale locomotive at Jupiter’s Claim is a real steam engine, built by prop train engineer MIKE MASSEY and his father, along with its cars and track, over a period of years. It was not built with Nope in mind.
• Jupiter’s Claim and its stadium were about a 14-week build, start to finish.
• Before production began, filmmakers did a full scan of the entire valley using drones with ground-based LiDAR to create a detailed map of all the hills and landmarks.

The Haywood Ranch House

For OJ and Emerald’s home, De Jong knew that it needed to be a turn-of-the-century old farmhouse. “We toyed around with it being a ranch house, but a one-story house would sit so low, below the barn,” De Jong says. “I have always been in love with Edward Hopper, the painter, and his houses are so simple. There’s something about their shape and the shadows that they cast, that even though most of them are on the East Coast, I just started to lean into kind of a Hopper-style house. It wasn't built to be this spooky haunted house—and it's not—but it absolutely, in my opinion, carries that iconic-ness with just its stature. My goal in designing it and creating it with GENE SERDENA (Her, The Fighter), the decorator, and the team was grounding it to where you feel as though you completely believe and understand why and how this family lives here, the history of the house and the lives that were there before them.”

The land itself added another dimension to the terror in the film. “Our location manager, JUSTIN DUNCAN, found this piece of property, and it really clicked for us for a number of reasons,” Ian Cooper says. “One, it is surrounded by foothills and mountains, so it has the effect of feeling like you’re in a gigantic stadium when you’re in the flatness of the valley. When you’re down there, it has this uncanny sense of vulnerability. Not only is there no visually perceivable escape, but you feel like you’re in the bottom of a bowl, and our entity, Jean Jacket, has endless places to hide.”

Adding to the atmosphere in the film is the constant wind that sweeps through the terrain. Peele worked closely with sound designer JOHNNIE BURN (The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Under the Skin) to perfect it. “I knew that this film had to be about as much about its sound as it is its visuals,” Peele says. “Johnnie views sound from kind of an abstract place. When we first started talking, he said, ‘I've got this library of wind.’ The wind is such a central character in the film, aurally, especially, and he can essentially conduct wind.”
• The Haywood house was built on Firestone Ranch in Agua Dulce, California, property once owned by William Mulholland, the famous civil engineer who is responsible for irrigating Los Angeles in the early 20th century. Rather than use Mulholland’s imposing Spanish style white mansion on the property, Peele and the producers opted to build a farmhouse from scratch closer to the barns and stables.
• Building the entire two-story Haywood farmhouse took about 10 weeks.

Fry’s Electronics

• Originally, the film’s producers wanted to film inside the Fry’s Electronics store in Woodland Hills, which had an Alice in Wonderland theme. But Fry’s went out of business in the spring of 2021 and that store had already been dismantled. Instead, the filmmakers selected the Burbank Fry’s, which was 1950s sci-fi B-movie themed.
• “Jordan had written Fry's into the script, this quintessential electronic store in southern California,” De Jong says. “We scouted a few stores and I don't think any of us had been clocking that things were rocky for them until, like November, it pops up on my phone: Fry’s is completely shut down, doors closed. Jordan’s gut reaction was to pivot and create a generic electronic store, but it was bothering me, and I think bothering Ian Cooper and Jordan too. We all came back around and were like, ‘Why not go out with Fry’s?’ So, we got to the Burbank store, a few weeks too late, but they were like, ‘Hey, Ruthie. Hey, Jordan. Can you put this store back together?’ I was like, ‘Yup.’ The owner, Randy Fry, and his wife Vikki Loveikis and son were so pumped and so supportive. We’re thrilled to honor the legacy of that epic store, and I think Randy is very pleased to bring the Fry’s fame back to life. It’s just nice to capture that nostalgia and the specificity of that family-owned business was something special that's forever now because it’s on screen.”

Gordy’s Home Sitcom Set

• On the Gordy’s Home sitcom set, the sofa, chairs and side tables were made 30 percent larger to emphasize the perceived smallness of the show’s main character.
• “The Gordy set is this bright, cheery, 1990s family sitcom set in Cape Canaveral, Florida,” De Jong says. “And what happens there is horrible. It’s devastating, kind of like, what if this happened on Full House? It’s beautifully kitsch, and that’s the beautiful backdrop where Jordan creates this darkness.”

Copperpots Cove

• Jordan Peele fans may notice that a certain fictional food chain first seen in Us makes a reappearance in Nope. “I try to make all my films in the same universe — this universe: reality,” Peele says. “I think there are certain ways in which the movie world diverges from our reality, like the fast-food chain, Copperpots Cove. That doesn't really exist, but it’s in Us and it’s also in Nope. So, people may be led to connect and wonder if Nope and Us exist in the same universe. Those are speculations I am happy to let people make.”
• Copperpots Cove became the vehicle for Peele and Ian Cooper to construct the “perfect fish sandwich.” Peele handwrote the restaurant’s entire menu and then recruited the chef from one of their favorite seafood restaurants— Holbox near USC —to collaborate on creating the sandwich and then worked with De Jong and prop master MICHAEL GLYNN (Masters of Sex, Superstore) to create the packaging.
• The Copperpots Cove logo—a winking parrot—and identity was designed by graphic artist JOEL WALDREP and sculpted by DAVID FRENCH.

The Sky Dancers

One of the film’s most striking visuals features miles of brightly colored sky dancers twitching in the arid valley. “The sky dancers are a detection system for our entity, Jean Jacket,” Jordan Peele says. “They are also lures and ways to confuse it as well. Aesthetically speaking, they kind of represent another theme of the film in the exploitation of what’s beautiful and what's natural. And the human imprint on this, our environment. In a lot of ways, they also come to represent the lost souls of the exploited.”
• For the ranch scenes, at least 70 sky dancers were used.
• Gaffer ADAM CHAMBERS (Tenet, Ad Astra) and lighting console producer NOAH SHAIN (Tenet) were responsible for programming all the sky dancers. Chambers used a wireless network so that filmmakers could control which would be “up” while others were “down.” Intense heat and pesky chipmunks that gnawed at cables provided challenges.
• Production designer Ruth De Jong says: “There’s an underlying theme we’re addressing there—exemplified by the color palette, like a bag of Skittles, basically—that the sky dancers are in of themselves a representation of mass consumerism.”
 
 

The Costumes

 
• Costume designer Alex Bovaird envisioned the movie as kaleidoscopic with each segment having a very distinct look, so she created a distinct and colorful world for each part of the movie.
• Because of the set’s extreme heat and dust, most of the actors required multiple copies of their character clothing. For example, Daniel Kaluuya had 10 pairs of the same blue jeans for his portrayal of OJ.
• OJ wears almost exclusively swag from film and television productions that he has worked on.
• Emerald collects borrowed items from other people and her wardrobe reflects that.
• Alex Bovaird designed a Vagabond Americana style for the film American Honey, which is also reflected in Emerald’s Queer Flậneur look.
• The character wardrobe design juxtaposes pop artificiality against the film’s natural landscape.
 
 

The Cinematography

 
Hoyte van Hoytema with an IMAX 65mm camera on the set of “Nope”. About 40 percent of the film is shot with IMAX cameras. Glen Wilson/Universal Pictures

For the cinematography of Nope, the filmmakers enlisted Academy Award® nominated Director of Photography Hoyte van Hoytema, whose work includes Christopher Nolan’s "Dunkirk" and "Tenet". One of the main challenges that van Hoytema and his team were faced with was filming the night sequences. “We had several scenes out in the valley at night, and the valley was so vast,” van Hoytema says. “It was surrounded by a ring of mountains, and ultimately, it was a non-lightable situation. Story-wise, it was very important that we felt the scope and the magnitude of that place, so we wanted to create nights that felt spacious, epic and grand and gave us the possibility to peer into the night. Yet at the same time, we didn’t want those nights to look fake in any way. It’s a classic problem that you have as a cinematographer filming in nature because there’s nothing around except for the moon, and cameras are not powerful enough to expose that very specific light. So, we started thinking about day-for-night, which is a technology that has been done forever in Hollywood to overcome these problems. Essentially, you put your actors at a very specific direction into the sun, preferably backlight them and then darken or blue your image so much and pretend that the sun is the moon, creating some sort of an illusion of night. But when we started looking at those options, we both were never entirely satisfied with the result. So, we started engineering, and we ended up building a day-for-night rig, if you will, which is a combination of a variety of cameras. And they’re all perfectly aligned without any parallax. And by putting those images together out of the variety of camera, which is an Alexa 65 with an infrared enabled chip, and with some help from some software, we could create pictures that felt very close to how we experienced night. And then after that was done, Guillaume Rocheron, our visual effects supervisor, took those images a slight step further. I think it looks fantastic—these incredible night shots with quite a big magnitude that I haven’t really seen before unless it’s pure CGI. But CGI never looks as close or as tactile as these images do.”
 
 
Hoyte van Hoytema and Jordan Peele on the set of “Nope.” Glen Wilson/Universal Pictures

Jordan Peele credits van Hoytema with helping him realize a vision he wasn’t even sure could be created. “I set out to write a script that I didn’t care if it was possible to make,” Peele says. “That was this sort of dream. King Kong. The Wizard of Oz. You look at these movies that shouldn’t be possible but then they were achieved through technical ingenuity, persistence and collaboration. And Hoyte, he just never saw any of the limitations any other cinematographer would’ve seen. What he did in Nope is film history.”

• Before cinematographer Hoyte van Hotema joined the production, the filmmakers expected to use digital cameras. Once he joined, the decision was made to shoot on large-format 65mm and IMAX.
• Nearly 100 percent is shot on 65mm film. About 40 percent of the film is shot with IMAX cameras and remaining of the film is shot on Large Format [Panavision] System 65 millimeter, 5-perf film, with the exception of the 1997 sitcom footage which was shot on 35mm film, as would have been used at the time, and the hand-cranked 35mm camera that Holst uses in his abduction scene. The security footage depicted on the monitors was shot with Black Magic digital cameras.
• Four IMAX cameras were used in the making of Nope. Two of them are the standard MSMs which are workhorse cameras that can do 36 frames per second, and two of them are Mark IVs, which can do 48 frames.
• The production used the same IMAX camera that filmed "Everest".
• SCOTT SMITH, the IMAX technician who services all the cameras, adapted one of the IMAX Mark II cameras with a hand crank so that it could be used as an important script element in the movie—a camera that didn’t require electricity. The hand-cranked IMAX camera could operate at about 3 or 4 frames per second.
• The IMAX camera that was adapted with a hand crank was one of the IMAX cameras that filmed outer space aboard the space shuttle.
• “When you're shooting on IMAX, you just know you’re doing something cinematically special,” Peele says. “There’s nothing like going to an IMAX theater and seeing something that was shot for IMAX and all the care that’s put into that and the full immersion that it promotes. I mean, you’re in there and the image is so overwhelming that it actually just replaces your vision. It doesn’t feel like you’re up in this big screen; it feels like you’re there. And that was my key with this movie: I wanted immersion, that awe and fear and wonder we all have from when we were kids.”
 
 

Monkeypaw’s Social Impact Campaign And Universal’s Below-The-Line Traineeship

 
Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions now launches a social impact campaign alongside each of its film and television projects. “We started doing this on Candyman, and we’re making sure that every Monkeypaw production has a social impact campaign that’s intrinsic to the film or the television show that it’s riding alongside in tandem,” Nope producer Ian Cooper says. “For Nope, we’ve been working with my colleague, KEISHA SENTER, Monkeypaw Vice President of Culture and Impact, to highlight three pillars that demand more exploration and more unpacking after you experience the film. One of them, apropos of the Eadweard Muybridge jockey and Emerald and OJ’s roles in Hollywood, is to shine a light on the below-the-line artisans and craftspeople that make the film but who are not household names. The second is the forgotten elements of how Hollywood intersects with representation and excavating people that have been forgotten or whose names weren’t known. The third is looking ahead to the future and making sure that we are empowering young people and showcasing the fact that being a part of the industry can encompass many different equally important roles. We want to educate young people that you don’t need to aspire to be in front of the camera or operating the camera, but that there are a multitude of incredible filmmaking roles to explore.”

Adds Keisha Senter: “To show young people the variety of roles in Hollywood, we are excited to share that we will be working with our partners at Universal Studios to invite and include HBCU in LA students at the Nope Premiere.”
Parallel to Monkeypaw’s social impact campaign, Universal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion (GTDI) department launched its Below-the-Line Traineeship for individuals seeking careers behind the camera as part of NBCUniversal’s overall commitment to increasing diversity, equity and inclusion within all areas of production.

Launched on Jordan Peele’s Nope to much success, the traineeship marked the first of wider below-the-line strategies that are currently being rolled out to provide underrepresented talent on-set experience and mentorship. With the increasing demand for experienced craft talent across the industry, the ground-breaking initiative has since been instated on more than a dozen NBCUniversal film and TV projects to cultivate the next generation of costume designers, prop masters, camera operators, technicians, and a myriad of other roles crucial to any production team.

In collaboration with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), Hollywood Cinema Production Resources (Hollywood CPR) and various IATSE locals, the first cycle of the traineeship welcomed six trainees to the set of Nope, which filmed on location in Southern California last year. The trainees were comprised of five Hollywood CPR students, who were selected to gain the requisite hours needed to fulfill their Hollywood CPR graduation requirement, and one member from ARC, who joined to gain experience and exposure in visual effects.
Trainees were assigned to a specific department based on their area of study or interest. The selection process included interviews with production executives, relevant stakeholders and the head of their respective departments. With each traineeship, all trainees will be paid for their work and the duration will vary depending on each production.
“In line with our efforts to provide more gateways into the industry, we could not be more excited to bring this traineeship to a new generation of below-the-line talent,” said Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Chairman, Donna Langley. “Honing your craft on the set of a Jordan Peele movie is an opportunity that none of the trainees took for granted. We are extremely grateful to Jordan and the entire Monkeypaw team, who share our passion and commitment to investing in diversity and early career development.”

Monkeypaw was proud to inaugurate the Initiative. “At our core, Monkeypaw has always sought to highlight underrepresented voices and we have been honored to help share those stories with audiences. We were privileged to further our mission as the first production to partner with the California Below-the-Line Traineeship,” said Win Rosenfeld, President of Monkeypaw. “It is crucial not only to Monkeypaw’s growth, but the growth of the film industry that all producers collectively commit to initiatives that bring awareness and opportunities to underserved communities to help careers flourish.”

Upon admission, trainees started receiving support and guidance to participate in production meetings, departmental meet & greets, and relevant health & safety trainings. All trainees were also assigned a GTDI and HR partner to ensure the experience is as rewarding as possible.

Diversity, equity and inclusion have long been hallmarks of UFEG. In 2017, under Langley’s leadership, the studio launched its GTDI department – becoming the first major feature studio to establish a department reporting directly to the Chairman, and the only studio to address these issues with one team delving into both content and work culture.

“As our state works to expand career opportunities for more Californians in the film and television industry, the California Below-the-Line Traineeship is a welcome initiative to increase diversity in below-the-line crew,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Traineeships are an important tool to expand access and foster a more inclusive workforce, supporting California’s commitment to an equitable recovery.”

Governor Newsom recently signed legislation expanding the state’s successful film and television tax credit program, including incentives to meet diversity goals for above and below the line workers. The Film and Television Tax Credit Program 3.0 also includes a Pilot Skills Training Program, which provides technical skills training to individuals from underserved communities.

Established in 2017 by Universal Filmed Entertainment Chairman Donna Langley, GTDI became the first-of-its-kind diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) department for a film studio. The business-led group creates programs, initiatives and strategies ensuring that DEI is at the forefront of Universal Pictures, Focus Features and DreamWorks Animation’s work culture and content creation, both in front of and behind the camera. Building upon NBCUniversal’s overall DEI commitment, GTDI creates industry access and identifies film production opportunities for underrepresented talent while partnering with its Television and Streaming counterparts on efforts impacting both film and television. Since its launch, GTDI has amassed an impressive and inclusive talent pool through its live action and animation writing programs; directing and composing initiatives; and below-the-line traineeships, with 70 percent of its talent securing production credits on NBCUniversal content.
 
 
  
  
  
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Updated 07-08-22