When you get the opportunity to make your first feature film, you better take advantage of it, just like Benh Zeitlin. Turns out, putting everything he had into the short film “Glory at Sea” was well worth it because the piece made its way into the hands of the right people, the kind of people who were ready to facilitate Zeitlin’s next project, Beasts of the Southern Wild.
The film centers on Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), a six-year-old girl living with her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), in a bayou community known as the Bathtub. When a storm ravages the area, there’s a mandatory evacuation, but, despite a serious illness, Wink refuses to abandon their home, insisting he and Hushpuppy stay to rebuild with a few other dedicated community members.
Not only is it quite the undertaking to make the move from short films to a feature, but Zeitlin and co. took on a number of additional challenges for the sake of quality including hiring a five-year-old actress to lead the film and recruiting a devoted bakery owner to portray Wink, despite the fact that the film was far from his top priority.
In honor of Beasts of the Southern Wild’s June 27th release, Zeitlin sat down to run through the entire process from adapting Lucy Alibar’s play to finding his Wink and Hushpuppy, bringing in family and friends during production time and more. Check it all out in the video interview below.