How Respect Director Shot Scene Where Aretha Franklin Writes Her Biggest Hit

TheWrap’s ”How I Did It“ series profiles how director Liesl Tommy showed the ”creative genius“ in the biopic

Early in the film we see a younger Aretha Franklin singing Otis Redding’s version of “Respect.” Later on however, the meaning of the word changes for her after she reflects on her childhood. Late one night at the piano, she quickly recruits her sisters to sing backup on the song she’s playing out in her head for the first time.

The scene is also the first instance in the film where Franklin shifts from writing songs by hand to working hand in hand with her sisters and getting back to her gospel roots.

“It’s the first time we see that part start to happen, as opposed to formal musical creation with sheet music and notes, which is what was core to her,” Tommy said. “And I wanted to show as she reclaimed her musical identity, those things that she learned singing in the gospel choir came back to her.”

The scene then cuts to Franklin and her sisters performing the song for her band and her producer, and as they feel out the sound, it immediately cuts to Franklin’s headlining performance at Madison Square Garden in a sign that she’s finally become a superstar.

For more, check out the entire “How I Did It” video with Liesl Tommy above, and also hear Jennifer Hudson discuss her role as Franklin in an interview with TheWrap here.

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