Based on the bestselling novel by Lawrence Hill, the small screen version, co-written and helmed by Clement Virgo, spans three continents over the course of 50 years, and stars Aunjanue Ellis (as Aminata Diallo) and Oscar winners Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lou Gossett Jr. The six part mini-series depicts Diallo’s extraordinary life journey through a world that is pre-disposed to underestimate her. Kidnapped by slave traders in West Africa and subsequently enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata must navigate her way through the American Revolution in New York, the isolated refuge of Nova Scotia and the treacherous jungles of Sierra Leone, before ultimately securing her freedom in England at the dawn of the 19th century.
Technicolor Toronto worked closely with director Clement Virgo and executive producer, Damon D’Oliveira for two years on the project, from inception to final delivery. “Working with Technicolor on The Book of Negroes provided a one-stop shop of world class professionals. This was by far the most challenging project Clement and I have worked on and Grace and her team have done an excellent job of hitting all of our milestones to the highest standard”, said Damon D’Oliveira, Executive Producer – Conquering Lion Pictures. Filmed in South Africa, Nova Scotia and Hamilton, The Book of Negroes was shot on the Arri Alexa and Technicolor Toronto housed the complete post process, including dailies, offline editorial, final color, VFX, sound mixing and deliverables. Final color was completed by Brett Trider, working with Cinematographer Giulio Biccari to set the look on the beautifully shot footage. To accommodate Biccari’s schedule, two of the final episodes were screened at Technicolor Soho in London to ensure his creative vision was achieved. The beautiful images were brought to life by Re-recording Mixers Frank Morrone and Scott Shepherd, creating a soundscape that complimented the actors’ performances that were emotionally reinforced by the fabulous score.
Technicolor’s Creative Director, Kevin Chandoo, was an integral member of the post production team, providing preproduction collaboration and consultation from the earliest days of the project. Kevin’s team delivered more than 200 VFX shots for the miniseries, including digital matte paintings, green screen compositing and the removal of non-period landmarks . “Collaborating with Clement throughout the project was a gratifying experience. His eye for detail encouraged us to strive for the authenticity that will truly transport the viewer into Aminata’s world”, said Chandoo. “The challenge of The Book of Negroes was to develop creative VFX solutions that were both cost effective and worked within a period piece. A lot of satisfaction came from the transformation of footage from present day to period accurate. Perhaps most notably, a Halifax dock was transformed to a bustling late 1700s Manhattan harbor. It was extremely rewarding for myself and for the entire team who worked on the project”.
The Book of Negroes is produced by Conquering Lion Pictures, Out of Africa Entertainment, eOne and Idelewild Films. In Canada it will air January 7th at 9pm on CBC and will continue on each subsequent Wednesday at 9pm with the final episode on February 11th.