Scorsese reportedly hopes to begin filming ‘Flower Moon’ in early 2021

Brandy McDonnell The Oklahoman
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Iconic filmmaker Martin Scorsese hopes to begin lensing his anticipated adaptation of “Killers of the Flower Moon” in Oklahoma in early 2021, according to the Osage News.

Citing an update that Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear gave to the 7th Osage Nation Congress last week, the Osage News’ Shannon Shaw Duty reports for the tribal publication that filming on the Oklahoma-set story could begin as early as February, depending on how the coronavirus pandemic pans out.

“My latest information is that they would start filming, subject to Coronavirus, February 2021,” Standing Bear said, according to the Osage News. “And, they will be here for about 16 weeks. They’re going to start moving in here quietly, I’m not helping that very much, but quietly around November and December. So, they’re coming.”

As previously reported, Oklahoma Film + Music Office Director Tava Maloy Sofsky confirmed in June that Scorsese is still planning to shoot the star-studded project in Oklahoma, despite delays caused by the pandemic. The film is to star Oscar-winning actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

Principal photography was anticipated to begin this summer in Oklahoma on the high-profile project, which is expected to usher in a new era of filmmaking in the Sooner State. Early stages of pre-production and development had already begun in Osage County when the pandemic shut down film productions around the globe.

Also as previously reported, Scorsese himself mentioned in June that he was still planning to film the big-budget movie in the Sooner State in an opening-night video message he recorded for Oklahoma City’s virtual deadCenter Film Festival.

“I would love to be there with you,” the Oscar winner told deadCenter audiences in the three-minute video recorded in New York, where he was been sheltering in place during the pandemic. “I hope that when we get to shoot ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ soon in Oklahoma, I might be able to be there at some point.”

As previously reported, it was revealed in May that Paramount has recruited Apple to assist in making the movie, which reportedly has a budget around $200 million. According to Variety, Paramount still will distribute Scorsese’s film version of David Grann’s bestselling true-crime novel worldwide, with Apple joining to finance the project, act as the movie’s creative studio and then stream the prestigious title on its Apple TV+ streaming service.

According to the Osage News, executives are keeping the Osage Nation ambassadors for the film, Chad Renfro and Addie Roanhorse, up to date on the project.

“They are excited about the partnership with Apple and that they will be and are very much looking forward to filming here. The industry and production is basically at a standstill due to COVID 19 and timing is the biggest unknown,” Renfro told the Osage News in an email. “With safety for all being of greatest concern, once the industry protocol has been established and it is safe to embark on this important project, they will reach back out to us.”

As previously reported, the “Killers of the Flower Moon” production team last fall had two open casting calls for Osage and other Native American men and women interested in potentially appearing in that film as speaking actors or background extras.

The Osage News notes that many members of the Pawhuska-based tribe are expected to work on the project: Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, crew members were in talks with Osage artisans, language speakers, homeowners and more. Filmmakers have expressed interest in potentially filming inside the Osage Capitol Building, old Superintendent’s House on the Osage Nation campus and other Osage historical homes around Osage County, according to the tribal publication.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Grann, the best-selling author of “The Lost City of Z” and “The White Darkness.” “Killers of the Flower Moon” chronicles the mysterious murders of Osage Nation citizens, who in 1920s Oklahoma became the center of a major FBI investigation involving J. Edgar Hoover.

“I think it’s so great that they’re going to be filming here, that they’ve had auditions for the Osage and for other Native American actors to be a part of it,” Grann said in a February interview in OKC.

“When I wrote the book, part of it was to hopefully make sure that this history is part of our consciousness. Because for so many people — and I include myself — we had essentially excised this very important history.”

Although they are both frequent collaborators of Scorsese, “Killers of the Flower Moon” will mark the first of his feature films that will star DiCaprio and De Niro together. They both appeared in Scorsese’s 2015 short film “The Audition,” in which they portrayed fictionalized versions of themselves.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” will mark the sixth film DiCaprio and Scorsese have worked on together, with their previous collaborations including “The Departed,” “Gangs of New York” and, most recently, “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

It will be the 10th feature over the past four decades the director has made with De Niro, who won a best actor Oscar for his work with Scorsese on “Raging Bull” and an Oscar nomination for their collaboration on “Taxi Driver.”