February 01, 2012 10:39pm PT by Scott Feinberg
Discussing and Dissecting 'The Artist' with the Artists Who Made It (Video)
On Monday night I had the opportunity to moderate a Q&A with a chunk of the team responsible for The Artist -- the black-and-white silent film that has been nominated for 10 Oscars, including best picture -- following an all-guilds screening of the film at the Television Academy in North Hollywood.
As you can see by viewing the 15-minute video excerpt of our hour-long session that appears at the top of this post, I was joined by: writer-director Michel Hazanavicius (the winner of this year's DGA Award and an Oscar nominee for best director, best original screenplay, and best film editing); actors Jean Dujardin (the winner of this year's Golden Globe Award for best actor in a drama and SAG Award and an Oscar nominee for best actor) and James Cromwell; production designer Laurence Bennett and set decorator Robert Gould (co-Oscar nominees for best art direction); and costume designer Mark Bridges (the winner of this year's Critics' Choice Award for best costume design and an Oscar nominee for best costume design).
Over the course of our conversation, we discussed, among other things: the roots of Hazanavicius' idea of making a black-and-white silent film in the 21st century; why Dujardin, who is a very big star in France, decided to take the gamble of appearing in such a risky film; the motivation behind -- and creative challenges resulting from -- the decision to conduct the 35-day shoot in and around Hollywood; the casting of several great American (Cromwell, John Goodman, and Penelope Ann Miller) and British (Malcolm McDowell) character actors alongside the French (Dujardin) and Argentinian-French star (Berenice Bejo) stars; Cromwell's personal connection to the material (his father, a noted actor-director, and mother, a noted actress, both made their big screen debuts just as talkies came in); the process of selecting costumes that were not only period-appropriate but also helped to advance the narrative; Dujardin's silent-era influences (he based much of the fictional George Valentin on the real Douglas Fairbanks); and Uggy, who, it turns out, was originally slated to be a cow rather than a cute Jack Russell terrier!