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What a difference 20 miles makes. In Lowell, Mass., director David O. Russell found a warm reception as he lensed The Fighter. “For us to be there was so exciting for this working class town,” he told an overflow audience at the DGA’s Meet the Nominees event Saturday, as he and his four fellow DGA Award nominees recounted the process of making their nominated films.
Not far south of Lowell, in tony Cambridge, David Fincher found he had no friends at Harvard when he sought permission to film The Social Network there. He characterized the school’s reaction as: “There’s no chance, but let’s see you dance.” Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University ended up doubling for the Big H.
Dancing in a more literal sense figured into choice of location for Darren Aronofsky. Shooting the ballet-themed Black Swan in a New York City ballet theatre wasn’t possible, since the production would have had to shut down the venue for the duration of principal photography. Aronofsky instead ended up at yet another university, the State University of New York at Purchase, during its winter break.
Location was important as well for a story as seemingly internal as The King’s Speech, with that film’s director, Tom Hooper, commenting on the importance of setting Colin Firth against a “huge negative space, distressed and alienated,” in order to underscore the character’s own anguish.
Most internal of all of the nominees is Inception, set as it is in a cascade of nested dream spaces. Director Christopher Nolan described his goal as “trying to make dreams feel real,” and added “I like to be guided by locations.”
The panel interviews, moderated by director Jeremy Kagan, ranged widely over such matters as dallies (most of the panelists avoid them), stress (harder to avoid), music and more.
Then there was the subject of sex. Aronofsky found his film’s love scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis awkward to shoot – so much so that he raced through it in half a day, despite having blocked out two days for the scene.
Russell didn’t like shooting The Fighter’s love scenes either, but for an entirely different reason: the fact that all he got to do was observe. “It was a drag for me to be watching these hot people have sex,” he said, and added wistfully, “I’m on the outside looking in.”
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