Spirit Awards: 'Spotlight' Director Tom McCarthy Indicates Cast Signing on Quickly Was Key to Getting Film Made

"For something like this where I needed a little bit more money, I needed this cast. And these guys signed on so quickly, it was the easiest casting process I've ever gone through," the director and co-writer said as he accepted the Robert Altman Award recognizing the movie's ensemble.

Spotlight was awarded the Robert Altman Award at the 31st Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday.

The film about The Boston Globe's investigation into decades of child sex abuse by Catholic priests and the subsequent cover-up, was nominated for and won four additional Spirit awards, including the top prize of best feature.

The Robert Altman Award recognizes Spotlight's ensemble cast: Billy Crudup, Paul Guilfoyle, Neal Huff, Brian d'Arcy James, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Jamey Sheridan, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci. Director and co-screenwriter Tom McCarthy spoke for the group, something he said Ruffalo just told him to do as the Spotlight team made its way to the Spirit Awards stage. They were joined onstage by casting directors Kerry Barden and Paul Schnee, whom McCarthy pointed out have cast all of his movies, calling them "two of the best," who've "done it again with this film."

"This is probably one of my favorite awards because I couldn't say enough great things about the people I had the good fortune to work with on this stage," McCarthy began, adding that his actors' quickly signing on to the project was key in getting the film made. "For something like this where I needed a little bit more [financing], I needed this cast. And these guys signed on so quickly, it was the easiest casting process I've ever gone through," McCarthy said, acknowledging the difficulties of getting a film made that those who work on independent films know so well.

McCarthy also praised distributor Open Road, "one of the great independent studios championing films like this," who McCarthy said was pursuing Spotlight "before [he] even knew who they were," wanted to make the film he and his team wanted to make, and have been "so supportive."

"We need companies like this right now who are going to step up when the other studios won't and aren't afraid to tell these kinds of stories regardless of what they think the endgame might be," he added. "So to your courage and commitment, thank you very, very much."

The acclaimed film — which has already won a number of other awards this season including the SAG Award for best cast, three Critics' Choice awards, three Gotham awards and the WGA and BAFTA awards for best original screenplay — is also up for six Oscars, including best picture.

The Spirit Awards were handed out in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica at a ceremony hosted by Silicon Valley's Kumail Nanjiani and Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon. The awards were exclusively broadcast live on IFC.

Visit THR.com/awards for complete coverage of awards season.

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