By Jocelyn Gallardo
On February 11, 2016 the Outstanding Director of The Year Award red carpet took place at the Arlington Theater for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). Coraline Crannell, Emily Krumholz, and I all attended and got a numerous amount of interviews from various directors. A lot of the directors were new to directing, but most had been in the business for a while.
Nominated directors that were included were Alejandro González Iñárritu (director of Revenant), Lenny Abrahamson (director of Room), Tom McCarthy (director of Spotlight), Adam McKay (director of The Big Short), and George Miller (director of Mad Max: Fury Road). We were lucky enough to to have been able to interview both Adam McKay, Lenny Abrahamson, and George Miller. They both gave us meaningful and well thought out answers to all of the questions that were asked. As we asked questions, it was obvious that they were listening, and that they were interested in what we had to ask them.
Some of the other directors included Ivona Juka (director of You Carry Me), Matthew Espin (director of Cuddle Party), Adam Forrester (director of Eat White Dirt), Emily Wirt (producer of Eat White Dirt), and many more. For a lot of these directors, it was their first time at the SBIFF.
One of the directors, Ivona Juka, was at SBIFF for the first time. She was there with her sister Anita Juka and they were there because of Ivona’s film You Carry Me. This film is about three different daughters. One of them is a pregnant producer, the other is a director whose father suffers from Alzheimer’s, and the last one is a daughter who had been neglected by her dad. One of the questions that we asked her was what inspired her to create her film, You Carry Me. She responded by saying that she was inspired by human need and to change other, not ourselves.
“This movie is about redemption,” says Ivona. “Then I thought in which relationship I should put that.”
Ivona then gave us great insight on what she was really trying to get the audience to take away from this film. She included her own background on why she chose the relationship she did about fathers and daughters. She said that she thought that there were already a lot of things focused on mothers and daughters and how she wanted to choose something different since she had a good relationship with her own father.
As well as Ivona, we were able to interview Adam Forrester, director of Eat White Dirt. This film is all about the relationship we have between with a mineral found in the American South. When interviewing Adam, we asked him what gave him his inspiration to create his film Eat White Dirt. He explained to us that when he was in college, he found bags of dirt for sale, he and put this together with a story he had heard during his childhood to create his short film.
“…When I was in college I found these bags of white dirt for sale, and all those stories became reality,” he says. “I wanted to turn all of those realities into a film.”
We also asked him if there were any struggles in turning this reality into a film. He said that it was difficult compressing it all into one bite size film. He also said it was hard to decide what to keep in and what to keep out.
“You have things left on the editing floor,” he says.
One of the last things that we asked him was what themes he wanted the audience to take out of this film. He answered by saying that he felt like we could learn a lot for history, and age old practices, and a lot of things that are sort of overlooked.
“We are all about the newest, and greatest, and latest, but there’s some beautiful things we can learn from our past,” he says very passionately.
As mentioned before, we were lucky enough to be able to interview three out of the five directors in line for the award being given. One of these was George Miller who was nominated because of his movie, Mad Max: Fury Road. Not only has George directed all of the Mad Max films, but he also directed the movies Babe, Happy Feet, and Happy Feet 2. Since he has made a handful of more child appropriate films, we asked what were some of the similarities between a movie like Babe and Mad Max. He responded saying that they were both hero like movies, and about people struggling in a really tough world, and that with their courage, and coming together, they were able to change the world.
After asking him a little bit about his experience with l some of his older films, we moved on to some of his newer and more modern ones. In order to get our information we asked him what his inspiration for the Mad Max films was. He said that he had really loved action movies, and that they were all really inspired by different things because he has made them all at different times. He said that he wanted to tell a story that was about this continuous chase, and pick up as much story on the way.
“You get to know the characters and the world,” George Miller tells us. “It’s not just a superficial action movie, but you’re getting a lot of story about dominance hierarchy.”
Later we asked him why he had chosen to direct movies like Babe and Happy Feet when he had already created many more adult films. He then explained to us that he always loved children and animated films, and that when he had kids himself he was always watching these types of films. He also added that they are really fun to make, but you also want to have a good story in place.
Over all, going to the red carpet was a night to remember. If anyone didn’t have an opportunity to go to any of the events or movie showings this year, we recommend going next year. Having the opportunity to talk to famous actors and directors on any of the nights is really something worth trying out. Thank you!