Actor/Producer Sylvester Stallone with Co-Screenwriter/Director Ryan Coogler on-set of “Creed.”
After seeing Ryan Coogler’s deeply felt debut feature film “Fruitvale Station”, with a career making performance by Michael B. Jordan, I was anticipating what would be next from Coogler. In the perfect synergy of filmmaker, lead actor, and studio, Coogler brought his unique voice from the independently financed “Fruitvale Station” into the MGM/Warner Brothers’ studio backed “Rocky” franchise along with co-screenwriter Aaron Covington and many of the same below-the-line crew from “Fruitvale Station.” Coogler and Covignton were developing their dream “Rocky” film way before they ever had a meeting with the keeper of the flame, Sylvester Stallone. And this was also way before “Fruitvale Station” was given well deserved praise for its nuanced humanistic portrait of the last 24 hours in the life of 22-year-old Oakland resident Oscar Grant who had his life tragically cut short. Coogler returns with Jordan in the role of Adonis Creed, the long lost son of former Rocky opponent Apollo Creed. Adonis enlists the help of retired boxing legend Rocky Balboa, played with more subtlety and emotional impact than ever before by Sylvester Stallone, to train Adonis to go above and beyond his potential and make a name for himself outside of his famous deceased father. If you are curious about Coogler’s personal inspiration for “Creed”, read Deadline.com’s interview with Ryan Coogler from November.
Road to Cinema’s YouTube series is proud to share its 6 part interview with “Creed” co-screenwriter Aaron Covington. Our conversation delves into the creation of the screenplay, his writing process with Ryan Coogler, Coogler’s original pitch to Sylvester Stallone, the music score, the casting of Michael B. Jordan in the title role, and much more. A sample of our interview is below but you can watch all 6 parts of Road to Cinema’s exclusive interview with “Creed” co-screenwriter Aaron Covington on the Jog Road Productions YouTube channel under the Road to Cinema Shorts playlist.
We also have another “Creed” conversation on The Road to Cinema Podcast featuring co-editor Claudia Castello who along with co-editor Michael P. Shawver worked on both “Creed” and Coogler’s debut feature “Fruitvale Station.” Castello also shares with us how her collaboration began with Coogler back at USC when she had the opportunity to edit any of her fellow classmates’ films. She chose Coogler after being stunned by the quality of his initial work screened for the class.
In a year with lackluster Oscar bait that has been forced down our throats with unworthy “for your consideration” campaigns by publicists, “Creed” is one of the few exceptionally executed films on every level of craft that needs more of a push by its home distributor Warner Brothers. We have a nuanced screenplay with the creation of Adonis Creed rendered in full form by the superb Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone’s rawest and most engaging performance as “Rocky”, direction by Coogler and cinematography by Maryse Alberti which captures boxing scenes in unique one-of-a-kind cinematic executions never before seen in any sports film, as well as capturing the emotional impact of each and every moment from the actors’ performances, a music score by composer Ludwig Goransson which creates a new and emotionally connective tone for the “Rocky” franchise while paying homage to composer Bill Conti’s world famous score, and a rhythmic calibration of montages and the climactic boxing scene by editors Claudia Castello and Michael P. Shawver. Coogler has assembled a wonderful team of collaborators between “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed.” I hope this crew continues together toward Coogler’s next film because the work is absolutely outstanding.
However, some kind words from me, and a 93% percent Rotten Tomatoes score, does not translate to Oscar nominations without the support of a strong publicity department. “Creed” needs a more dedicated push from the Warner Brothers publicity team to get the much needed guild nominations: WGA, A.C.E., A.S.C., DGA, and down the line. Those guild nominations can help cement a film in the Oscar race. (Stallone has garnered many nominations and awards so far but he was shut out of the SAG Awards.) WB publicity is currently putting a lot of energy into awards campaigns for “Mad Max: Fury Road” and the Johnny Depp crime drama “Black Mass” but “Creed” is the film that NEEDS and DESERVES some extra help. If you are a voting member in a guild, go away from the status-quo and nominate and vote for a film that truly deserves the praise for its exceptional craftsmanship. Guild members, if you have not seen the film yet, go to one of the Warner Brothers Guild Screenings And if you have any doubt about a “Rocky” film being an awards contender, let’s not forget that the first “Rocky” won “Best Picture” at the 1977 Academy Awards ceremony along with “Best Director” for John G. Avildsen and “Best Editing” for Richard Halsey and Scott Conrad who were previous guests on The Road to Cinema Podcast.
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