Brooklyn teen tech prodigy C.J. Walker faces an moral quandary posed by her trainer: if time journey had been attainable, what would you return to do? In EW’s unique trailer for Netflix’s See You Yesterday, her mission is evident.
The directorial characteristic debut of Stefon Bristol, a mentee of BlacKkKlansman Oscar winner Spike Lee, has “one thing very robust to say,” the freshman filmmaker advised EW over the telephone.
C.J. (Eden Duncan-Smith) and her greatest buddy Sebastian Thomas (Dante Crichlow) are the sort of metropolis youngsters who run an underground Genius bar out of their storage for his or her Caribbean neighborhood and casually uncover the key to time journey for his or her highschool science venture (no biggie). Bristol balances these enjoyable nods to the period of Again to the Future and Ghostbusters (their time machines look strikingly just like proton packs) with the extra traumatic topic of police brutality.
When C.J.’s older brother is fatally gunned down by police within the streets, her invention with Sebastian turns into her Hail Mary to proper this fallacious. However, as Sebastian warns, “that is about controlling one thing we clearly haven’t any management over.”
“I like superhero motion pictures, I’ll go see the Avengers, Spider-Man, however once I depart I really feel empty,” Bristol explains. “Escapism is nice, however an excessive amount of of escapism solely leaves our individuals stagnant. There’s no extra progress. What I hope to do is determine learn how to take a robust message and in some way make it digestible for everyone, not only for a black viewers however everyone. That is nonetheless a battle that’s occurring. Proper now, understandably so, the lens of police brutality goes down a bit bit within the media as a result of we now have so many different issues that we now have to cope with. I nonetheless have one thing to say about it. It’s nonetheless right here.”
The thought for See You Yesterday started in 2014 in brief movie kind for Bristol’s graduate thesis at New York College’s Tisch faculty, a time that coincided with police gunning down Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and never far off from the trial of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida in 2012.
“I wrote a characteristic first earlier than I shot the brief,” he says. “All people needed to do a characteristic. I assumed, if everyone’s gonna do a characteristic, I’m gonna do a characteristic, too.”
That March, Bristol went to Lee, who teaches in Tisch’s graduate movie program, with the concept to shoot the characteristic that very same July. “He advised me I used to be delusional,” Bristol laughs. So did the remainder of his professors, however he’s grateful as a result of he would workforce with screenwriter Fredrica Bailey (from the dramatic writing program) and the brief would turn out to be a proof-of-concept.
“Based mostly on the brief,” Bristol says, “the characters had been constructed out a lot that I threw the unique first draft for the characteristic out the window and began from scratch.”
Bristol acquired the Spike Lee Manufacturing Grant at NYU in 2016 for his brief, and, higher nonetheless, Lee agreed to supply the deliberate characteristic. Bristol as soon as labored as Lee’s assistant on BlacKkKlansman had noticed: “how he’d make a characteristic movie.”
“He made it appear very simple and I used to be centered on making an attempt to do his fashion,” he notes, “however as soon as I used to be on set [of See You Yesterday] it was by no means like that. I needed to discover my very own rhythm.” Lee, he provides, “learn each single draft” and “gave vital notes,” however “wasn’t actually pushing an agenda in any respect.”
“That’s the producer you want,” Bristol explains, “producers who simply belief you and who permit you to make errors and offer you recommendation on learn how to repair it however gained’t suggest their agenda or something onto you. That’s what I wanted.”
In complete, it’s been a five-year course of to make the characteristic movie for See You Yesterday.
As Bristol and Bailey continued workshopping the script, Lee helped them store the venture round to studios earlier than the movie finally landed at Netflix, the place Lee developed She’s Gotta Have It. Bristol remembers how they “went forwards and backwards” and “had fights with Netflix about what needs to be within the script what shouldn’t,” however it at all times got here again to “the characters and their relationship as a household.”
“If that didn’t work, then the inevitable demise of the older brother wouldn’t work,” he says. “We had to verify we understood the household and understood who the household is.”
Final Thursday, talking simply days after post-production on See You Yesterday concluded, Bristol feels grateful. He remembers instances in the course of the improvement course of when he was broke and couldn’t pay lease. At one level, Lee gave him a mortgage to carry him over till the movie began incomes cash.
“I’m blessed, however on the identical time I really feel survivor’s regret as a result of there are different filmmakers who’re like me, who’re making numerous sacrifices, who’re making an attempt to make their first characteristic movie,” Bristol says. “Thank God that I’ve what I’ve and that I’m ready for it. It’s simply that it’s a bizarre expertise.”
See You Yesterday will premiere on the Tribeca Movie Pageant in New York Metropolis on Might three earlier than dropping on Netflix Might 17.
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