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.

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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).

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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!