ByMelissa Molina, writer at
Melissa Molina

Next to actors, directors are definitely one of the biggest creative forces driving a project from start to finish. There's a select few that have becomes auteurs, masters of their craft and the list continues to grow each awards season. This year's director's panel at the Santa Barbara Film Festival included the likes of (Silver Linings Playbook), (Beasts of the Southern Wild), (Les Miserables), (Wreck-It Ralph), Malik Bendjelloul (Searching For Sugar Man) and (Brave). Again, we fall with a scenario where every person up on stage is responsible for a film that's been nominated for at least one Academy Award. That's a mighty impressive accomplishment. The directors talked about many topics, which included David O. Russell eventually coming to cast in his latest movie that may win her an Oscar this year.

David O. Russell: The right people play the right roles at the right time if you're humble enough to keep working through the frustrating parts, as I'm sure a lot of people on this panel can attest. I wanted to start this project five years ago and so I thiought other people would play those roles. Those five years were meant to deliver me to Jennifer [Lawrence], also Bradley [Cooper], Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver and other people in the cast... So Jennifer came to us at the last minute at a Skype audition from her parents' home in Lexington, Kentucky which I did as a favor to an agent. I got to thinking this girl was too young, who I saw on the red carpet a couple of years ago, looked like a Barbie. I was like 'Is that and that's the girl who was eating the squirrels in Winter's Bone?' She doesn't look like that. She just knocked it out of the park and she's a special actor. She's a special person. She goes on these panels and says 'I never knew a character like Tiffany who is so bull-headed and so outspoken and vulnerable.' I'm like hmm, what about you?

Another highlight, one of many, involved Tom Hooper and his journey from The King's Speech to his latest Oscar nominated film Les Miserables.

Tom Hooper: "I like the use of the word that The King's Speech was 'tactically simple'. I do remember two years ago during the awards season, you'd read through articles talking about the cynicism talking about The King's Speech being an obvious Oscar winning film. I thought back to the process of making it where no one really knew anything about us as we were making a film of an unproduced play about some diaries discovered in an attic that nobody ever read. It was a story that was new and none of us predicted or saw the journey that we went on... I was very touched by how it affected people personally and how it was an emotional journey for a lot of people... I was looking for a story that could continue this kind of connection with people...

In the end I wanted to do it because the way it moves me and what moved me about the musical was the end with the death of Jean Valjean... It reminded me of something my father said to me a few years ago. He said 'Coming into old age I want to master the art of dying well.' I asked my dad what he meant and he said 'When I pass away, I want to do it in a way that's as loving to all of you as possible, and I want to do it paining you as little as possible and leaving you loved.' And that's my mission for my final time on Earth... The novel ends with the line 'To love or have loved, that is enough. That is the only pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.' That's why I did it in the end, because I felt that if any story that can kind of provide you a way of navigating through the hardest thing we all face is a story that interests me."

If you want to see more of the Q&A panel, check out the video below (via YoureTheStar):


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