CIFF 2023 Interview: Minhal Baig on Chicago Drama We Grown Now | Festivals & Awards

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I also want to ask you about filming in the Art Institute.

It was really challenging to film there. We had, I think, two and a half hours or something. Three hours, max.

I was wondering how long you could shut down an entire museum. 

I think it’s three hours. And we were very limited in what we could bring in. Thankfully, it was just the two kids and then like the extras in the background. For a long time when I thought about that scene in the script, I didn’t want them to just go to the Art institute and have a good time. I needed to say something with this sequence and for them to have an experience that’s different from what we’ve seen before; obviously I’m a fan of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” 

There was this interview with Hughes and he said people had asked him why he had the Art Institute in the movie. He was like, I just like it. He didn’t have to explain it. He just liked going there. But in this film, I wanted to revisit this place that many might be familiar with, but do it in a different context. Those paintings have so much cultural resonance to so many people. It’s why the last painting, “Train Station,” resonates with the kids personally.

I first saw that painting when I was walking around the Art Institute. I was like, oh wow. I haven’t heard of Walter Ellison. I looked him up. It was through a public arts program he was commissioned to make this painting. And it’s really tiny, positioned in a corner of the museum. So I was interested in that painting because I feel like with that one the kids would feel some connection to it. 

The train scene is also wonderful in how the kids connect to what they’re seeing around them. Could you talk a bit about crafting that sequence?

So early on in the process, I originally envisioned them playing hooky but doing much more than what they did. Originally, they had a whole day of doing stuff but then I realized I had to cut it down and make it more reasonable because there’s only so many places they can go and then come home. So I mapped out what route they would take: if they’re escaping from school, what’s the train they need to take; what’s the route to the train station; what would be the bus they would take if they decide to take a bus. I also had to figure out whether the trains were running because it was a very specific train line. The direction they’re going has to be accurate because people in Chicago are really specific about that. And I know they’re gonna pick up on it. So I took the route myself. 


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