SW: Carrying these huge drums on their heads.
AU: He was like those are my friends.
SW: These are my friends and they crossed the border as well.
AU: They had crossed the border with their huge drums, and were trying to find their place and to share their art in Kigali. Then we met Cheryl Isheja, who plays Neptune, one of the Neptunes, at an event. We saw her and we were like would you like to try this? Eventually we discovered that she was already a DJ, a beat maker, a singer, and that she was already a huge part of the local scene.
SW: So Anisia was holding screen tests at that time. We would bring people to the place where we were staying and Anisia would do screen tests with the actors and with the drummers.
AU: By 2016, I would say that half of our cast was already there, which allowed us to work with them longer.
SW: The stories they shared with us helped influence the writing of the script, because the script was not done. At that time, the music was not done. At that time we were even doing some recording there while they would tell their stories. So that went into some of the storytelling, even though we had a fleshed out concept and the story that we knew we were telling, their stories still found a way to get in there. We also met our costume designer, within the first week there, Cedric Mizero, who right after our first encounter, and us telling him what we were thinking and about the story, showed up at the second encounter with with sandals made of motherboards. And we were like, okay, you get it.
AU: He was 22 or 23 at the time. I would say that the story just attracted people. It’s true that we didn’t go into the usual casting process. Very interestingly, the story and the material that we were willing to explore was attracting the right people. It was just like, one after the other.
SW: You’ve got to meet so-and-so, so you need to know so-and-so, I’m gonna bring so-and-so by.
AU: We didn’t have a casting director, for instance.
I love that story about the drummers, which reminds me of the way that the camera movement really captures the pulse of the music. How did you develop shooting the musical sequences?