Regina King on Her ‘One Night in Miami’ Production Crew: ‘They Were My Heroes’

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After directing multiple TV episodes, Regina King makes her big-screen directing debut with Amazon’s “One Night in Miami.” Kemp Powers adapted his play about a 1963 meeting of Jim Brown, Cassius Clay (before he became Muhammad Ali), Sam Cooke and Malcolm X. King paid tribute to her colleagues behind the camera, saying, “They were my heroes.”

Tami Reiker, cinematographer

“Tami and I connected immediately. Even when I didn’t have a technical word for what I was looking for, she understood. For example, so much takes place in one motel room, and I didn’t want it to feel like a play; I wanted it to feel light and with an energy that matches the performances. And for me, color is a great way to represent Black people. In our sordid past as Americans, we still found a way to laugh and love, and color represents that vivaciousness. But I didn’t want it to be so saturated that it might feel like a music video. She got these things, and they were a jumping-off point.”

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Tariq Anwar, editor

“The film you’re seeing would not be the same without Tariq. I wanted him to keep me on the right path. He said, ‘I won’t say anything unless something is going wrong.’ When someone says that to you — a person like me, directing my first film, in a new space — it means a lot. He was always pushing me to try something out. Tariq has a great understanding on how to capture the vulnerability and strength of each man. In dialogue scenes, there’s always a question of when to cut to reaction shots, but Tariq understood the nuances: how long to stay on a person, when to cut away.”

Barry Robison, production designer

“It’s a period piece, and it was important to Barry to not change what was factual. He showed me the dimensions for a 1963 Miami motel room, and we knew that wasn’t going to work visually. We decided to make it a Hampton House suite, two rooms turned into one for high-profile guests. Also you have four men of different complexions. We were trying to be as authentic as possible with such details as the wood paneling; we photographed actors against those walls to make sure it was complementary to their complexion.

While these may seem like little things, they were humungous because we’re in that space for more than half the film. And Barry was so great about all of it.”

Francine Jamison-Tanchuck, costume designer

“The paneling was also important for the wardrobe. Francine and I took so many photographs — with fabrics and the actors against the paneling, individually and then together. In the TV work I’d done, we used a Dropbox, and I brought that to ‘One Night’ so we could have open conversations among the DP, production designer, wardrobe designer and me. The four of us used artist Jacob Lawrence as inspiration and kept going back to him for ideas on our color palette.”

Kimberly Hardin, casting

“Kim leaves no stone unturned. She brought in some actors who had acted but never professionally. For example, Christian Magby came in to audition for Cassius. He wasn’t right, but Kimberly felt I needed to see him. We gave him the sides for [Malcolm X bodyguard] Jamaal. He learned it in an hour and nailed it, so he played Jamaal. She’s good at her job because she’s interested in finding those diamonds in the rough; that’s invaluable to a production.”

Bryan Parker, sound designer

“The sound team was amazing. In the Boston sequence, where Sam is singing, Bryan Parker was responsible for making our 300 extras sound like 2,000. Sound-wise, we designed it months before it was shot, with countless conversations about what layers would be needed, what we could prerecord and what to record on the day. [Production sound mixer] Paul Ledford was hiding mikes in so many places, allowing the performances to stay alive, not to resort to ADR, where you can sometimes lose that richness. Early on, he also explained, ‘You may want to get these authentic microphones where Sam is singing. It costs more money, but it’s a different sound and it’s very specific.’ That information is priceless. It all pays off.

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