Creating the Movie “Where the Crawdads Sing”

“Where the Crawdads Sing” debuted in theaters this summer and is stirring up a lot of local buzz.

This feature will stray from the movie’s overall plot, as it closely follows the novel’s original storyline of the same namesake. Instead, the focus here will shine a light on those who used the wonders of film to extend this story to greater heights.

While the names of the film’s cast may not stand out immediately, their performances, fluidity, and chemistry working together certainly do.

Playing the lead role of Kya or “The Marsh Girl” is Daisy Edgar-Jones. Her appearance in the Hulu original romance series “Normal People” earned her a nomination for a Golden Globe Award. At only 24, this young British actress has tons of talent and a bright future in the industry. Jones’s promise is evident in “Where the Crawdads Sing.”

Conversely, Taylor John Smith and Harris Dickinson do a great job playing Kya’s lovers. Each one’s ability to work helps emphasize their emotions and fluctuating, rocky relationships throughout the story. Other outstanding performances from Emmy-winning actor David Strathairn and child actress Jojo Regina show that making a good cast doesn’t start with big names; a large part of success is about their ability to work with each other on camera.

The film was set in the swampy Barkley Cove of North Carolina, but it was actually shot in Louisiana, with many locations here on the Northshore.

For example, Kya’s house was built in Fairview Riverside State Park in Madisonville just for the making of the movie. The crew also visited Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Lacombe to film the movie’s motorboat scenes. The Northshore’s marshy lakefront was the perfect place to make a film set in the North Carolina swamps.

In capturing footage, “Where the Crawdads Sing” did things differently from other films, according to Robert Stenger, a camera operator for the movie. Stenger described his time working on this movie as unlike anything else he’s ever done. “They allowed us to go out and shoot what felt like a nature documentary,” Stenger said.

Stenger also described floating down the Tchefuncte River in Madisonville in a motorboat, waiting and searching for wildlife shots: “We were allowed to go and hang out in the wilderness and shoot… We ultimately came back with what you see on the screen, which may only be a couple of seconds here or whatever, but we may have shot hours of footage. We did. It was fun.”

While “Where the Crawdads Sing” is a film with a story that has already been told in the novel by Delia Owens and was even labeled as “The New York Times Best Seller,” the visuals in the movie allow for expansion on the book. The cast steps into their roles naturally, filling each moment by interacting with each other with what feels like genuine emotion that the audience can feel through the screen.

All in all, “Where the Crawdads Sing” helped an already great story make a graceful transition to the big screen. Louisiana, specifically the Northshore, gets its chance to shine, both on and off the screen. All of this makes the film definitely worth the watch.


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