Inside Open Road and Warner Bros.'s Powerful Trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah
"You can murder a freedom fighter, but you can't murder freedom."
The first audio-visual piece for Judas and the Black Messiah, created by Open Road and Warner Brothers Pictures, is all about a young man stepping into power—both literally (Oscar-winning actor Daniel Kaluuya walks up steps to give his iconic speech in one of the first shots in this piece) and, certainly, emotionally.
In many ways, one could argue we had it easy. Chairman Fred Hampton's iconic speech is in the film. Powerful and to the point, the uproar of the crowd only feeds his energy, but how do you create a delicate dance between giving Hampton's words the respect they are due while intercutting coverage showing both the building tension and epic nature of his short but impactful life?
The first shot was very deliberate. We wanted the world to meet the Chairman. Out of black, a speakeasy door opens revealing our hero, "Chairman Fred Hampton of the Illinois Black Panther Party." No music was needed quite yet. To truly honor the Chairman, we must let him speak. Cut to black and with the snap of a finger, a cue begins. Ultimately, the Chairman and his speech are in charge and it is on us to listen.
An unexpected modern, synth-driven cue was also no mistake. We were determined to do something unexpected, especially given that the time period (the politically turbulent 1960s) already has so many amazing songs. We felt any song might take away from the speech.
As the trailer progresses and as the title of the film makes very clear, Judas must ultimately appear as well as the Messiah. LaKeith Stansfield's character is brought in early to clarify his complicated choice with J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. The lines between truth, lies, betrayal, love and so many other emotions are then surgically weaved through. We are certainly proud of the end result and glad Warner Brothers as well as the filmmakers chose our piece to be first out of the gate.
On behalf of editor Colin Vanderhoof, producer Kasey Waterman, music supervisor Mike Lynn, supervising design group producer Asheley Hu Roe, editorial support staff, finishing led by Jonathan Rice as well as executive creative director Michelle Jackino, this is a piece Open Road is especially proud of. Finally, if you have not, please see this remarkable film. Chairman Fred is a one-of-a-kind figure in our history. May his dreams and actions inspire us all to be better, every day, in our hearts and community.