Backstage Interview | 84th Academy Awards


CATEGORY: Directing
INTERVIEW WITH: Michel Hazanavicius
FILM: "The Artist"


Q. Congratulations.
A. Thank you.

Q. I'm going to ask the question in English.
A. Sure.

Q. And if you don't mind, you can answer in French and then translate it in English, since it's got to go in the news in, like, ten minutes?
A. Are you sure?

Q. If you don't mind.
A. Okay.

Q. We thanked Billy Wilder three times and not once.
A. Yes.

Q. [Speaks in French] If you don't mind translating, please.
A. Yeah. So I I thanked Billy Wilder three times, because I had to make it short, but I could thank him, like, a thousand a thousand times, because I think he is the perfect director. This is the perfect example and he's the soul of Hollywood, and most of all, I wanted to thank him. And I love him.

Q. [Speaks in French]

Q. Michel?
A. I don't speak French. Sorry.

Q. All right. And I don't speak English either.
A. Okay.

Q. But we are going to try. What was for you the most challenging anecdote, if you consider the road is over as a foreign director, what was the most challenging for you to make it here in Hollywood, if you can give us a little bit some kind of anecdote, what it is the most difficult to make it here?
A. Actually, it was not so difficult, because I think because of the movie and because of the connection between people and the movie. I mean, from the very beginning, it was in September end of August and September. I've been in three festival, Telluride, Toronto and New York. And then I realized that people really enjoy the movie and really love the movie. So when people love the movie, it's not very difficult because you are not selling, you're not promoting. You just smile and say "thank you," and it's not so difficult. You I mean, you can do that. And maybe the most difficult thing was to the back and forth and being here while the kids were in Paris. But this is a personal difficult I mean, difficulties it was for professional part it was not so difficult.

Q. [Speaks in (French)]

Q. Hollywood, next step Hollywood.
A. It's not next step. I mean, I this movie bring me some opportunities to meet people and some of them propose me send scripts, or told me that they wanted to work with me. And if there's a chance to make a good movie I will do it with really with honor and great pleasure, because people know how to make movies here. So there's some beautiful actors, beautiful scriptwriters and, yes, I hope I will make a movie here once. It won't be the next one. And also, I I have a wonderful producer who is French and I want to work with him again. And when you have that kind of producer you don't drop him off. You stay you stuck to him. You stick to him. That's better I think.

Q. Hello?
A. Hello.

Q. With the popularity THE ARTIST and HUGO, what would you say is your favorite silent film or silent films that you helped guide you through the process of making the film in that era?
A. Which one of my favorite silent movies?

Q. Yeah, your personal favorite.
A. I would say, like, I don't know, maybe, eight or something. It's very difficult to say one, because silent movie is not a genre, you know, that because it's just a format. I would say that the Murnau's movies, the American ones SUNRISE and CITY GIRL, I think I prefer CITY GIRL, because I think it's more simple, but both of them are really great. King Vidor's, THE CROWD. It's a wonderful movie. Everybody can see it. It's easy to watch.

It's very touching. It's moving picture and very modern. Tod Browning's, THE UNKNOWN GYPSY CIRCUS, which it's a great, great covert and sexy movie set in a gypsy circus, and it's really great, a short one like one hour and ten minutes the Borzage movie, the Von Stroheim movie, Von Sternberg movies, like, UNDERWORLD and DOCKS OF NEW YORK. UNDERWORLD is a great, great movie. DOCKS OF NEW YORK is written by Ben Hecht who wrote SCARFACE after that. It's a great movie. The great [inaudible] old Charlie Chaplin. You can you can spend a good week with that.

Q. When we talked at Cannes and then Toronto, we talked a lot about taking risks and your risk seems to have paid off. So this is a two part question. Do you think the success tonight, THE ARTIST, will help people take more risks and do you think it, also, will encourage other people besides those of us who already love silent cinema to pay attention to the real history of cinema including that era?
A. I don't know. I I won't be so presumptuous. I if it if it can be something for directors, if directors can take THE ARTIST as an example in discussion with financier and say we can shoot in black and white for example. We can do something that is unusual and if it can help, I would be very proud of it, really. But usually, it's not one movie that can help to change things. If 10 movies or 20 movies in the same year very different in a way, that can change a little bit. But it's not one movie, it's just one movie. It doesn't change things. But I don't know. If it helps, I would be very proud of it.

Q. Now, that you've made an accomplished silent film, what is the next door you're going to open? Are we talking about documentary, action, love story and will your beautiful wife be in this next movie?
A. So far, had my we've always write. I didn't have a chance to work and so it just in my mind for now. And what I want to make now is an adaptation of an American movie named THE SEARCH. It's a Fred Zinnemann movie movie from
'47 1947, I think with Montgomery Clift, and I would like to make an adaptation of this movie and it's a melodrama with a political background and it would it would be a modern movie, I mean, today, and it will be with Berenice. [inaudible]

Q. Often there's a pattern at Oscar with one film tending to nominate below the line categories and the others doing well in above the line as THE ARTIST did tonight. Can you talk about some of the contributions that your crew head, department head and key heads in the below the line categories, the ones that were nominated and didn't win at all?
A. Well, for the cinematography, I have to say first of all, it's my third movie with Guillaume Schiffman who did the cinematography, and we connect together. He's very I mean, we can work together very easily. One of the best performances in that movie is that we shot it in 35 days and to keep that quality of image in 35 days is really something very special. I mean, not all the cinematographers can do that, I think, and he did a wonderful black and white. And he did a wonderful job on that and that film, especially. And the costume designer for example, Mark Bridges, is a great, great collaborator.

It's really he's a lovely person, and he's really, really good. And he did exactly what I mean, I ask I ask them some things about with the costume, the thing that for me was telling the story, but he did so much more, some things I did didn't expect that it will help so much the movie, like, the choice of the texture, the recreation of the dresses and the costumes, and their work on the extras, for example. It's a great it makes things so easy when you can shoot all the extras. I mean, so yeah. I've been very lucky, I mean, in the with the crew and with the cast as well.

Q. [Speaks in (French)]
A. [Speaks in French]. I'm sorry, she ask me to answer. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.


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