By Katie Chambers
The wildly inventive 2023 Sundance Film Festival feature film Landscape with Invisible Hand follows Adam, a teenage artist coming of age in the aftermath of an alien takeover. The Vuvv, a species of hyper-intelligent extraterrestrials, brought wondrous technology to Earth, but only the wealthiest can afford it. The rest of humanity, their livelihoods now obsolete, have to scrape together money to survive. Then Adam and his budding love interest come up with an ingenious way to get rich quick.
Based on the novel by M.T. Anderson, the genre-bending sci-fi dramatic comedy with a YA twist directed by Cory Finley will come out as a limited release August 18, 2023.
NYWIFT member Nitasha Bhambree helped bring the fantastical story to life as the Stunt Coordinator for the film. Since graduating New York University with a focus in dramatic performance and film studies, Nitasha has been employed in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. While living in Los Angeles she produced two feature length action films, TKO and Game Over.
Upon returning to New York, Nitasha became one of the top stunt women in the region. She regularly stunt doubles lead actresses in various TV shows and films, and has performed stunts in big budget features such as Joker, The Dark Knight Rises, Spider-Man and A Wrinkle in Time. She was a participant in the Emmy win for Outstanding Stunt Coordination for NBC’s The Blacklist. Nitasha has stunt coordinated features and TV series for Netflix, Disney, MGM, A24, NBCU, Hulu, HBO Max and Starz/Lionsgate, and was a stunt coordinator on the Marvel/Netflix series Jessica Jones. Nitasha most recently second unit directed and stunt coordinated the critically acclaimed Peacock series A Friend of the Family.
She spoke to us about working in the sci-fi genre, her favorite scenes, and her upcoming projects.
Congratulations on your Sundance premiere! What does inclusion in Sundance mean to you?
It’s exciting when a film you worked on gets accepted to one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. It brings a level of accreditation to the project just by being included in the festival lineup, and it also gives the film greater exposure to audiences worldwide.
How did you get involved with the film?
I submitted my resume to the producers of the film which led to an interview with the director and writer, Cory Finley, who I worked with before on Bad Education. But I didn’t know this was his project until the interview. Cory is really great to work with so I was excited to learn that. He truly collaborates with everyone on the crew and is very considerate of each department’s needs.
Have you worked in the sci-fi genre before? Are you a fan? Although in many respects this is just as much a YA story as a sci-fi story!
I have worked on sci-fi projects before. It’s a fun genre, especially for stunts. There are no limits to what the imagination can conjure up! And you’re right, this is very much a YA story as well. The film does a great job of playing the YA story against the backdrop of the sci-fi reality of their world.
Without giving much away… the CGI aliens are a big part of the movie and fully integrated into an otherwise “normal” seeming Earth. What are some of the strategies when working with CGI characters (and very oddly shaped ones at that) that will be added in post?
I actually was not involved in the scenes with the aliens because it was all done as VFX in post. But generally speaking, we often use wire work and motion capture for creature work that will be converted into CGI. For large or unusual shapes, stilts, posts, and other objects can be used for reference points and to help actors with eye lines and to better visualize what their co-actors will look like.
What was your favorite moment shooting the film? And the biggest challenge?
My favorite moment was when we were shooting the sequence when Adam, played by Asante Blackk, exits the shuttle, collapses and his mother and sister, played by Tiffany Haddish and Brooklynn MacKinzie, come out of the house to welcome him back home. Not only was it an emotional scene, but Asante is such a great physical actor which he proved throughout production. The scene was lit and shot beautifully. When it all came together it felt magical.
Often times the biggest challenge can be having actors perform their own stunts, such as a prat fall or a fight, because they are not trained as stunt performers are and have to learn certain skills quickly. But all of the actors who did their own stunts on the film picked up the physicality very quickly.
What kinds of projects excite you?
I’m really drawn to projects that showcase an underdog character who comes out on top in the end. But in general, working on a production with a great story and crew make the experience enjoyable.
What is next for you?
I am currently coordinating a feature in NYC. My business partners and I are also in the process of raising funds for our next feature film which my husband, Declan Mulvey, and I wrote and will co-direct. Over the summer we are planning on shooting a short as well. So we have a lot going on and are excited for what’s to come!
Follow Nitasha Bhambree on Instagram at @NitashaBhambree.
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