VFX: <I>Queen & Slim</I>
Issue: November/December 2019

VFX: Queen & Slim

TORONTO — Mavericks VFX (https://mavericks-vfx.com) provided visual effects services for the feature film Queen & Slim. Writen by Lena Waithe and directed by Melina Matsoukas, the modern-day drama follows a young black couple who find themselves in the middle on an unexpected altercation with the police. 

The studio was responsible for creating and elevating the film’s environmental elements, bringing the realism needed for scenes involving fires, fights, protests and the backdrop of multiple states that the couple cross during their journey. 

Mavericks VFX’s credits include work on FX’s horror comedy What We Do in the Shadows, Amazon’s superhero drama The Boys, and Hulu’s acclaimed series The Handmaid’s Tale. Here, visual effects supervisor Leo Bovell (pictured, left) details the studio’s work on the Universal Pictures film.

How many shots was Mavericks VFX responsible for?

“Mavericks VFX delivered over 300 visual effects shots for Queen and Slim. Many so seamlessly done, they would go unseen. It is doubtful that anyone will be able to see our work – which is just how we’d want it.”

Can you talk about the scope of your work? 

“We did everything from simple wire removals to complex ocean and shoreline replacements. The themes, topics and art broached in this movie are very real and very sensitive for many, and as a kid who grew up in Brooklyn during ‘stop and frisk’, I know these topics warrant a serious discussion. With all of the above known, we definitely knew we wanted our work to enhance the impactfulness of what was already filmed, but also have those effects appear very natural and unseen to the audience.”

What kind of timeframe were you working within?

“Turnover started in June and wrapped on the movie early September. It presented some challenges as this was a pretty tight schedule. This involved very close communication with Melina Matsoukas and her team for close collaboration and definitive targets.”

What are some of the tools Mavericks VFX uses in its pipeline?  

“We used Foundry's Nuke heavily on the show for 98 percent of our compositing needs. It's a great tool and has been a pillar in our compositing pipeline. We also used Maya and Houdini for many of our CG effects, alongside with 3D Equalizer and Mocha for tracking.”

Looking at the completed film, is there a particular shot that you are most proud of? 

“One of the more challenging sequences in the film is when Queen and Slim take a moment to enter a field with some horses. The horses on the day needed to be held by a horse wrangler. Given the style of shooting long takes with lots of camera movement, there was nowhere that the trainer could hide. Occasionally, the wrangler actually was in front of the horse - meaning that we had to rebuild the horse, with its fur and muscles. It was the first thing we started on and the last thing we delivered, almost three months later.”

Queen & Slim stars Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Chloë Sevigny, Flea, John Sturgill Simpson and Indya Moore. The film opened in theaters on November 27th.