How ‘Queen & Slim’ Production Designer Karen Murphy Mapped Out the Duo’s Route

Variety | 12/10/2019 | Zoe Hewitt
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“Queen & Slim” is a social commentary packaged as a film, beginning with a bang. It kicks off when Queen (Jodi Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) shoot a police officer in self-defense and find themselves on the run. Slim somewhat innocently thinks his action will be justified in court, but Queen, a weathered prosecutor, knows different.

Director Melina Matsoukas, a two-time Grammy winner best known for music videos, collaborated with production designer Karen Murphy to bring the real world to the screen. While filming a current-day script mostly on location might seem fairly straightforward, production crews know that’s never the case.

Script - Stops - Road - Trip - Murphy

The script specifies only certain stops in the road trip, so Murphy mapped out an actual route for the pair. “I made a road map quite early in the [process] and gave it to every department,” she says. “I drew where it was starting, how long that would take and the drive. Then I knew what temperatures were in that city and the small cities they’d go through.”

Determining a route informed the design process. Two gas stations along the way serve as prime examples. The first, on the outskirts of a big town, “is jammed with product and distraction,” says Murphy. By contrast, the next is in a farming community. “It was meant to feel a bit slower and like they were quite out of place in that spot. It’s quite sparse, the colors are really muted, and it’s a little bit like from another era.”

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Aside from the early scenes that were shot in Cleveland, the rest of the locations were split among various places in Louisiana, including the neighborhood bar where Queen and Slim go dancing on their second date.

Interior - Neighborhood - Bars - Treme - Louisiana

The interior was actually one of the oldest neighborhood bars in Treme, Louisiana, a space...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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