fxpodcast #347 Emancipation, in depth with Rob Legato.

Emancipation is a dramatic historical action film directed by Antoine Fuqua and co-produced by and starring Will Smith as an enslaved man in Louisiana in the 1860s who escapes his plantation. The film is loosely based on the real-life story of a former slave Gordon, named “Peter” in the film. Three-time Oscar winner Rob Legato joins us to discuss the film. Rob on Emancipation once again worked with Oscar-winning Director of Photography Bob Richardson. We spoke to Rob just after he returned to LA from the Amalfi Coast where he has once again been filming a new movie with Rob Richardson.

 Antoine to the left and Bob Richardson to Rob's right
Antoine Fuqua, Rob Legatto and Bob Richardson, (L to R))  Copyright 2023 Photo: M.Legato

The filming took place in Louisiana between July and August 2021, and as you will hear in the podcast, the production faced COVID, lighting, heatwaves and even a Hurricane. Emancipation was first screened at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 51st Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., October 1, 2022, and was released on December 9 on Apple TV+.


Rob Legato was both the second unit director and VFX supervisor on the film. At the end of the podcast, Mike and Rob discuss Katie and Michael Legato who both worked on the film as VFX co-ordinator and Production Manager respectively. (Michael also shot our cover photo).

The film’s VFX were provided by

  • Folks: VFX supervisor Mihaela Orzea
  • Wētā FX:  VFX supervisor Chris White (R. Christopher White)
  • BUF: VFX Supervisors: Pierre Buffin and Lucas Salton
  • The Mill: VFX Supervisor James Allen.

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