Inside Scoop on ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ – Cast Spills Secrets from Set!

The cast of “Killers of the Flower Moon” shares behind-the-scenes stories! From eerie sleepless nights to heart-stopping explosions, it is a glimpse into the enthralling world of movie magic.

Prepare to embark on an adventure through the turbulent landscapes of Oklahoma’s Osage Nation, led by Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone. 

“It felt like maybe there was a responsibility that was not mine, but I needed to receive,” Gladstone explained. “So because it happened that way, I felt an immediate connection to the character that I was playing.”

Historical Context and Character Research

Burkhart, a survivor of the Oklahoma Osage murders in the early twentieth century, is not well-documented in historical records. Gladstone looked beyond court documents and photographs to fill in the blanks about her character.

In addition to speaking with Burkhart’s direct descendants, she was reminded of her own family, recognizing similarities between Burkhart and her great-grandmother Lily.

Lily said of the two women, “They were born within ten years of each other, witnessed this great transition, had families, and were both fairly devout Catholics. So that is an intriguing little cocktail of worldviews.”

Shooting “Killers of the Flower Moon” was one of Gladstone’s first extended stays in Oklahoma, and she acknowledged that the Osage tribe had also not been there long at the time the film takes place, having been forced to relocate from their original land.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone star in the film, which is set in the 1920s. The plot revolves around the mysterious deaths in the Osage Nation, with a murder narrative interwoven throughout.

To tell the story, Prieto depicted the various groups through photography. “The Lumiere brothers invented Autochrome emulation, which was used to photograph the white settlers, whereas the Osage were photographed in the most naturalistic manner possible.”

Killers of the Flower Moon
Killers of the Flower Moon

When it came time to shoot the key scene, rather than going for the big action explosion, Prieto’s camera was in the room, anticipating that Mollie (Lily Gladstone) and Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio) would be asleep – the audience is aware that Ernest had planned this earlier in the day. “We know something is brewing,” Prieto says of the decision to take a wide shot, which adds tension to the situation.

The bedroom scene was filmed in an airplane hangar in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, with air cannons and sugar glass (breakaway glass commonly used in production) flying as the scene unfolds. Prieto uses a Steadicam to circle the characters, capturing their fear and anxiety.

The exterior shot of Ernest walking down the street is taken at night. He accomplished this by lighting cranes with lightbulbs.

The fire itself, with flames strategically placed on gas burners. “I lit the entire space with 20×20 silver lamé frames. We left it loose so the grips could move it. That way, the grips can move it, and when you shine a light into it with a gel, the reflection is kinetic, like fire.”

He adds, “We had a few grips moving the silver, and that created this warm light representing fire. The entire scene has a hellish orange hue to it.”

When Ernest returns home, he finds his wife and children hiding in the cellar. The scene was not originally set up in that manner.

Scorsese had requested Gladstone’s input, and when she informed him that she would be hiding in a cellar, the scene had to be completely reworked.

He says, “We redesigned the shot to go through the living room, pan into the kitchen, through the opening of the door, and find her at the bottom with everyone else.”

He adds that the moment became powerful because the camera was moving, but “because there are microphones down there, you can hear the kids crying.” When Gladstone screams, Prieto says, “My entire body felt it to its core.” 

“As a cinematographer, you are thinking about all of the technical and creative aspects of how to make the perspective work, the lighting, the atmosphere, the mood, and so on, and then the shot happens and the emotion explodes.”

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