While appearing at the Toronto International Film Festival, director Lee Daniels revealed that he had to fire his film crew due to their failure to light the star’s brown skin properly.
Daniels admitted that he was forced to terminate a good portion of the Precious staff just 20 days into filming the 2009 Oscar Award-winning film, Entertainment Weekly reports. While reuniting with the film’s lead star, Gabourey Sidibe, Daniels shared how unhappy he was with the film’s lighting after two weeks on the set.
“I had a white line producer, a white AD, they also read [reviews that said my last film] Shadowboxer was the worst film ever made, and they had zero respect for me, my vision, or what it was. They were New Yorkers that looked at this as a job,” Daniels recalled.
“I kept coming home like, this doesn’t feel right, she doesn’t look right, the set looks weird. I felt like I was giving birth to an alien, literally, so I did something that I now don’t even know whether I’d have the courage to do, but I fired everybody. I shut it down.”
— TIFF (@TIFF_NET) September 14, 2021
Sidibe seemingly became emotional while Daniels relived the time he had to clear his entire set so soon into shooting his groundbreaking film.
“I was so nervous about making sure that she was lit beautifully. It didn’t feel right,” Daniels continued. “Whether we were going to take a financial hit because of it, I just blindly shut it down.”
His gut instinct was the right decision. The movie earned an astounding $64 million on what was just a $10 million budget.
“Then, we got back with a new DP (Director of Photography), Andrew Dunn,” Daniels continued. “I’d seen The Madness of King George, and I loved the way he shot it. I loved The Bodyguard with Whitney Houston, he’d done that, and I asked him, ‘I need your help because my DP is disrespectful.’ They were all white guys, just rude, disrespectful, really rude to what I wanted to do, not knowing I was going to shut it all down.”
Hopefully, they learned their lesson when they missed out on winning that Oscar.