Have you ever had a dream that felt so real, you woke up shaking or crying? That’s exactly what happened to “Us” and “Get Out” producer, Gerard Bush and he turned his experience into the movie “Antebellum.”
“The film is actually based on a nightmare that I had shortly after my partner Christopher Renz and I moved to L.A. in 2017. And it was a really traumatizing nightmare, where this woman was screaming so desperately for help. It felt like it was across dimensions. It felt seated in something bigger. And that’s why we did it. I don’t know that if we would have created this on a whiteboard if it would have been a movie that we would have opted to make,” Bush said.
He said the feeling of dread and longing that invaded his dream stayed with him long after he woke up.
“It was terrifying in that, it awakened me, no pun intended, to the idea that perhaps what I have been experiencing in the physical world is only a fraction of what there really is. What was really terrifying about it is that it felt like I could be reached by some other dimension,” Bush said.
The “Get Out” producer said he felt like a higher power was at play to get this movie made. He wrote and directed his latest thriller with Renz.
“Christopher and I both know that if you want to continue to have inspiration scratch at your door you have to serve as a responsible steward for the art that is entrusted to you. It was almost as though like, the energy of the ancestors had faith that we were going to deliver,” Bush said.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic put the film’s release up in the air. Eventually, they came up with a hybrid plan.
“Christopher and I are movie theater fanatics and we designed the film for communal experience in the theater. But then we also needed to be responsible for our audience. The studio gave us an option of releasing in 2021 or now on VOD in the states,” Bush said. “We felt like it’s just the right thing to do. We had to do it now. But unbeknownst to us when the studio selected Sept. 18, as the day, we found out after the fact that it is the 175th anniversary of the Fugitive Slave Act. So it really felt like OK, it was meant to be and something bigger is at play here. We’re going to let it do what it’s gonna do.”
The Houston native said that being released during a pandemic and in the middle of a social justice awakening was the best thing to happen to “Antebellum.”
“I think that that this movie feels right on time where I feel sorry for movies that were made before COVID,” Bush said. “I suspect that many of them might seem inappropriate and fantastical. The world has just changed so dramatically as a result of COVID and this great racial reckoning that I think that the entertainment value of what we were doing before in a lot of sort of commercial films, may at least in this moment, feel inappropriate.”
Bush said he and his partner are glad the entertainment industry is finally waking up.
“The impetus for us starting on this journey was always to serve as activists and artists-activists. For us, we already saw this coming 10 years ago and have always felt the need to speak up about injustice. What we are not going to do is play the violin in the orchestra on the deck of the Titanic,” Bush said.
For the people that think activism doesn’t belong in entertainment, Bush has a few words.
“Christopher and I are motivated by art. We are working on catalyzing or continuing a national dialogue and conversation that takes us and transforms a flashpoint into a real turning point. I really don’t care what those people say. I think that they’re the same people that tell the brawn to shut up and dribble,” he said.
The writer and producer said he plans to continue to make movies that mean something to him and his partner with the hope that they will spark change.
“I’m not going to just shut up and make entertainment for you. Christopher and I are going to make movies that matter, ones that get you thinking, and that stir you into action,” Bush said. “I prefer that you be outraged, mad and angry and then having these conversations about our art.”