Fletcher Moules, Maurice Williams, Ian Edelman, Karina Manashil, and Dennis Cummings chat about the new film Entergalactic.
Music and visuals have had a long and storied marriage, from orchestras accompanying great silent films and Disney’s Silly Symphonies of the 1930s, to the launch of MTV and recent YouTube videos. Like a real marriage, at its best, each medium compliments and strengthens the other.
Musicians frequently push the envelope when it comes to visual elements for their music, be it the iconic Beastie Boys music videos or the ‘visual album’ Lemonade from Beyoncé. Now, Scott ‘Kid Cudi’ Mescudi and a merry band of producers, animators, and voice actors are attempting to push it further with Entergalactic, a delightful feature-length Netflix special that highlights the music of Kid Cudi with a narrative. Director Fletcher Moules, writers Maurice Williams and Ian Edelman, and their fellow executive producers Karina Manashil and Dennis Cummings spoke with MovieWeb about the project.
“Scott started with the music, so at its very inception, he had three songs he was presenting,” said Manashil. “He had seen already how this could expand into a narrative story. So when Kenya Barris came into partnering, he brought in the idea of animation, and it really unraveled from there, where the music led into this love story […] and the animation enveloped it, and it just became this ever-evolving vision where each party brought something different to the table.”
“Party” is certainly the right word; Kid Cudi has a lot of creative friends in his rolodex, and many of them contribute to Entergalactic in some way or another, creating this jovial feeling of a bunch of friends having fun on an artistic project. Aside from the aforementioned producers and writers, a very diverse group of people star as voice actors alongside Mescudi — Daily Show alum Jessica Williams, Timothée Chalamet, Ty Dolla $ign, Vanessa Hudgens, Macaulay Culkin, Jaden Smith, Keith David, Laura Harrier, and Luis Guzmán all show up.
There’s been some confusion over just what to call Entergalactic, but at an hour and a half and as a stand-alone story, it’s fair to call it a film. Nonetheless, it’s a unique project, part epic music video, part experimental animated film, and part Black love story. The film follows Cudi’s character Jabari, a visual artist who is finally getting some recognition. He moved to Manhattan and lives with his two close friends (including a surprisingly hilarious Chalamet), and meets and falls for Meadow (Williams).
If that sounds simple, that’s because Entergalactic is, which is both surprising and refreshing. Despite the visually stunning animation, with its eye-popping pastels and neon colors and occasional swerves into the surreal, the narrative at the heart of Entergalactic is just a sweet, very real, modern love story. “We wanted to keep it grounded so that people can actually identify with it,” said Dennis Cummings, “because you might miss the mark if it’s too over the top. And New York is a grounded place. A lot of people are grounded in New York.”
“At its heart and soul, you still have to tell the story, which is a love story,” added Manashil. “There are things that are familiar — you want them to end up together, love in New York City is a tale as old as time, and so on. But there are also things that feel very new, which are modern love, Black love, and also this idea of seeing love at this point in life when you’ve settled down into adulthood. They’re considering what love can actually look like, love that has purpose and meaning. But when we look at the animation style, the groundedness is supposed to tell that story, but the surreal color schemes, the scenes when you go into outer space — all of that is an opportunity to really express a visual identity of what love at that honeymoon stage is like.”