Two men separated by 100 years are united in their search for freedom. In 1856 a slave, Samuel Woodward and his family, escaped from the Monroe Plantation near Richmond, Virginia. A secret network of ordinary people known as the Underground Railroad guide the family on their journey north to Canada. They are relentlessly pursued by the notorious slave hunter Plimpton. Hunted like a dog and haunted by the unthinkable suffering he and his forbears have endured, Samuel is forced to decide between revenge or freedom. Peter Cousens, the director of Freedom, sat down for an interview with Celebrity Examiner Jae Monique.
Cousens became involved with directing the film after being asked to do so. Although, he never produced a film before, he wasn’t daunted from doing it, especially since it was filmed with music.
Jae Monique: What were your initial thoughts when you read the script?
Cousens: Originally, the script needed quite a bit of work, the concept was fascinating, and the songs didn’t really come out on an emotional or narrative sense. It took a bit of work. With the story, we really wanted to drill into the notion.
Jae Monique: How did you transition your experience in musical theater to directing a feature film?
Cousens: Well, really it’s the form that is obviously different, technical sides of this is different, it wasn’t strange to me. Directing a film is a leadership role, it’s collaborating to share a vision. Everyone plays their role and does their job. Just making sure we all had the same passion for the film. We all had a happy time making the film.
Jae Monique: What challenges did you face with pre-production of Freedom?
Cousens: Initially looking for a location. Just the first whole line. In terms of trouble, just the fascinating creative time. Seeing how we could place them in different time frames. All of those things were fascinating. We had a great location manager and costume designer.
Jae Monique: Where will the film be distributed?
Cousens: It’s being distributing in the states, VOD, iTunes and DVD. It comes out on Friday in select theaters around the country.
Jae Monique: What do you hope the audience will take away from the film?
Cousens: I hope they will be moved by the story, the notion of grace and forgiveness is really the sinful cornerstone of what freedom actually is. The world of, if you like human trafficking, it still exists, and also I want people to be genuinely moved by music and storytelling. Give them something to think about.
Jae Monique: What was it like working with the actors?
Cousens: It was a great, positive and collaborative way to tell the story. They were enormously collaborative, and had the passion.
Jae Monique: What other projects are you working on?
Cousens: Just developing a film in Australia about a boy who was abducted off the streets. His parents didn’t find out what happened to him until years later. It’s about survival. It changed the way Australia handled child safety.