HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK
About The Production
Director Kevin Sullivan also enjoyed a close working relationship
with production designer Chester Kaczenski and director of photography
Jeffrey Jur. Together they designed a carefully researched and
constructed look for the film.
For the film's opening scenes, set in the world of Stella's high-pressure
career and "groove"-less love life, Sullivan used tight
framing and fluid camera movements to convey the character's formidable
qualities. "My initial instinct was that this story was about
a woman who was the center of the universe," he explains.
"So the shots are compressed, lending the feeling that she's
large and the world is small. The camera is always moving, and
the scenes have a lot of energy.
"I felt that would be a way of expressing the dynamics of
her life," continues Sullivan, "what was to be admired
and what was missing - there was no room for her to breathe."
Of course, Stella's world changes dramatically when she arrives
in Jamaica, where she is awakened to new worlds and experiences.
As Stella's world opens up, so does Sullivan's framing. "We
used wide lenses to give an enhanced depth of field," he
points out. "The color is rich, the image is sharp and the
actors move within wide frames. Stella gets perspective; the world
And this new "openness" continues as Stella brings Winston
back home to San Francisco.
Sullivan and his team used the lenses, lighting - and a lot of
ingenuity - to turn various southern California locales into the
San Francisco Bay Area and New York. Jamaica got to play itself,
as the production spent four weeks in Montego Bay capturing the
lush tropical paradise.
Music is also used to convey certain emotions and attitudes in
the film. In addition to the score by acclaimed composer Michel
Colombier, who has lent his talents to over a hundred motion pictures
and television films, legendary Grammy Award winning producers\songwriters
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced the film's soundtrack album.
They also serve as music supervisors.
Since much of STELLA takes place in the islands, Jam and Lewis
had the chance to incorporate different flavors of music, from
R&B to reggae, jazz and gospel, all of which express the thoughts
and feelings of each of the characters.
The two artists bring a wealth of experience - and hits - to the
production. Over the past 16 years, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis
have worked with the industry's most popular and acclaimed artists
including Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Boyz II Men, New Edition,
Patti LaBelle, Mary J. Blige, Luther Vandross, Lionel Richie,
Jon Secada and Rod Stewart. The multi-platinum award winning duo
recently completed new projects with Janet Jackson, Vanessa Williams,
Boyz II Men and Chante Moore.
While design and music play important roles in setting the look
and mood of STELLA, Sullivan is quick to point out the special
experience of working with actors of this caliber. "This
cast was committed to reach for excellence. It doesn't get any
better than that."
The experience was as equally rewarding for Angela Bassett, as
were the story's themes. Bassett hopes audiences will root for
Stella and Winston and perhaps even be inspired to follow their
own hearts. "After all, what are we here for?" she asks.
"Are we born to work? Are we born to focus on ourselves?
No, I think we're born to be in meaningful relationships."
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