SBIFF: Performer of the Year Award – Adam Driver

By Kelly Meeder and Olivia Battles

On January 17, at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, we got a chance 

to speak to the stars of lots of brand new movies. Included in these actors, producers, writers, and directors, was actor Adam Driver from Marriage Story. We got the chance to speak to him on the red carpet.

On the red carpet, Adam told how he prepares for a role “[I’ve] got to be open 

to what everybody else is doing,” he says, “there’s a whole other machine behind me that I have to support.” Next, we asked him how he dissects and prepares for a role, his response was:

 “I try to break it all up into little pieces, I solve that piece and it leads me to 

another piece, and I let the director worry about what that adds up to.” He thinks that his preparation for one role doesn’t necessarily differ from others, and that he can prepare for roles by showing up on time and knowing his lines.

When asked about transitioning from action to drama, he responded by 

saying the two genres are very similar and supportive to one another. “I feel like great action is supported by great story… I have a scene in this movie where I’m arguing with Scarlett, and that very much felt like an action scene.” 

Though we were unable to meet his Co-Star, Scarlett Johanson, we were very

fortunate to be able to speak to him. 



Our first interview though was with the director and producers of the documentary Margaret Singer: Seeking Light. It is a documentary about a local Holocaust survivor who turned darkness into light using her gifts as an artist and poet and her intuitive sense of truth and joy. Margaret forged her own path, and she broke every expectation for a woman, an immigrant and a refugee.

“She was like a treasure,” the director, producer, and editor, Louise Palanker said when talking about Margaret, “and you had to show the treasure adequately with the amount of decorative respect that is due. Everything she said could be embroidered on a pillow, she was just one of those people where everything she said was like a perfect quote. Like a sage.” 

“She filled every room with her presence and her light,” the producer, Jennie Reinish, added, “so it was very important for the film to reflect that.”

When asked if this film was an idea or plan for a long time, Louise shared that she had wanted to make it ever since she met Margaret 12 years ago when creating a film about three local Holocaust survivors. “I became obsessed with her because she is magical, and I just thought let’s do a film about Margaret.”

Sadly Margaret Singer passed away about three months after the film was made. She continues to inspire people to do what they love and follow their dreams through this intimate documentary. 


We were also able to speak with the director and cast of the psychological drama, Black Conflux, rated 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. When asked about the cast’s favorite part of the filming process, Ella Ballentine, who plays Jackie Dunphy, told us about a fun dancing scene that she had.

“I have a really fun scene where I’m dancing in my bedroom, I’m very flustered with having a crush on the character Donovan. It was super fun because that’s something I actually do all the time, so it was really fun and quirky to have that for anyone in the world to be able to watch.”

“And we had a day at the beach. Guys, we had a whole beach day! We had fires on the beach. ” Luke Bilyk pointed out. 

Later on, when asked if it was hard to keep the cast’s spirits up when shooting such serious material, the director, Nicole Dorsey, made a good point by saying that it was actually easier to be in a good mood off set because it was such a relief from the intensity of the story. 

“I think that’s kinda the beauty about shooting darker materials because you just want a relief when you get home at the end of the night. There is also a lot of comradery and trust that goes into making a film like this so you become family on set.”


Overall, it was such an interesting and unique experience to be able to interview the artists, filmmakers, and actors and hear firsthand their experiences and stories. 


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