Presenters Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper pose with Oscar winners Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall backstage at the 84th Academy Awards, held at the ex-Kodak Theater at Hollywood and Highland Center on Feb. 26, 2012. Baxter and Wall were the surprising Best Film Editing winners for their work on David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. A few days before the Academy Awards ceremony, The Artist (Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius) and The Descendants (Kevin Tent) had won American Cinema Editors’ Eddie Awards. (Image: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.)
In addition to The Artist and The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s competition for Best Film Editing were Hugo‘s Thelma Schoonmaker and Moneyball‘s Christopher Tellefsen.
Besides Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper, this year’s Oscar presenters included Christian Bale; Tom Cruise; Penélope Cruz; Cameron Diaz; Angelina Jolie; Emma Stone; and the Bridesmaids female cast: Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Maya Rudolph, and Kristen Wiig.
Below is a partial transcript (courtesy of AMPAS) of the Kirk Baxter / Angus Wall q&a held at the pressroom on Oscar night. Notice a curious interchange further down: the journalists are asking Baxter and Wall questions; at the same time, they – or at least some of them – are ignoring the Oscar winners, opting instead to focus on the Oscar show.
Q. Coming at The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a completely different movie from The Social Network. What were some of the challenges in cutting this kind of movie?
A. [Kirk Baxter] Its length.
A. [Angus Wall] Yeah. The screenplay was much, much longer than The Social Network, so […] the proportional amount of footage and performance to go through was just a much a bigger task in a lot of ways.
A. [Baxter] … [And if it had been] written like [directly] for a film, I think it would have been a different thing. But it came from a book, and you have to kind of work with what you had. … [Steven] Zaillian did a terrific job, but it was a challenge.
Q. I was just wondering, Best Picture and Best Editing seems to go hand in hand over the past probably 30 years [that’s not true; since 1982 only 15 Best Editing winners have gone on to win the Best Picture Oscar], and I was wondering … Why are they so intertwined, traditionally, and why this year the exception?
A. [Wall] I think we definitely thought they went hand in hand, too. I think we were genuinely surprised. I don’t ever remember being so surprised in my life when they called us, quite honestly. I think they go hand in hand because …
A. [Baxter] They’re one and the same thing … The end result you’re looking for is the final outcome of the film. [That’s] what you’re working towards in the editing.
Q. I happened to have a chance to talk to Jeff Cronenweth about this film earlier and he talked about the differences between The Social Network and this – and partly using the Swedish or Nordic palette, not only the landscape, but even the work of Swedish film artists like Sven Nykvist. So, the fact that this already exists as a foreign film and is literally – and sort of figuratively – a different language, did that affect the rhythms at all with the editing [when] compared to an American-based story like The Social Network?
A. [Angus Wall] Well, luckily it’s in English so we didn’t have to deal with really foreign language, and I think the cadence of the actors is what it is. I mean, regardless of whether they have a Swedish bent or not, the job, the task at hand for us is very much the same.
A. [Kirk Baxter] Are they laughing at you?
A. [Wall] No. I’m assuming something happened on the show.
Q. We were wondering how much David Fincher gave you direction in order to do the editing, knowing that it was different from the Swedish film. How different was it for you actually doing that kind of editing knowing that so many people have seen the original?
A. [Baxter] The original, I mean … I can only speak for myself, but the original film was – I don’t know if this is a harsh word – it was irrelevant to me because I’m being responsive to what Fincher shot. So, it doesn’t matter if ten million movies came before it. We’re reacting to what David gives us as a director.
Q. Number two in a row [Baxter and Wall won last year for Fincher’s The Social Network]. Are you getting used to this now? You seem genuinely surprised. I think you thought you would have no hope?
A. [Baxter] We weren’t expecting it at all and there’s no getting used to this. This is a very absurd place to be standing.
A. [Wall] Quite so.
Q. Of the footage that you had to cut, was there anything that you particularly were sorry about or was just gorgeous, but you had to cut it?
A. [Wall] No.
A. [Baxter] No. We were very happy with the end result of the movie. There was nothing we wish that was in there that we cut out. It stopped when it was at its best.
Q. I think you’ve talked about being surprised. Do you know how much Oscar geeks focus on the editing category? I guess I’m not geeky enough. I don’t know how many years it’s been. The editing category is supposed to lead to Best Picture. [It doesn’t.] Were you aware of the whole streak, and again were you aware that in terms of Oscar geek the odds were against you?
A. [Baxter] I think we were flabbergasted when we were standing there, [that] kind of speaks for itself. Movies have momentum behind them. There’re a few films this year that have that momentum. Our movie wasn’t nominated for Best Picture so it was surprising for us.
A. [Wall] I think, you know what, this is kind of a win for David because he’s our sort of … the third wheel of our little tricycle.
A. [Baxter] Front wheel.
A. [Wall] The big wheel in front. I kind of consider it a win for him.
Tina Fey, Bradley Cooper, Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter photo: Rick Salyer / © A.M.P.A.S.
Below is a partial transcript of the q&a with The Shore director Terry George and producer Oorlagh George, courtesy of AMPAS.
Q. … Terry, I just want to ask you first in your acceptance speech, you said you wanted to dedicate this to the people of Northern Ireland. And I wanted to ask you to reflect on the time that you wrote [Jim Sheridan’s 1993 Best Picture nominee] In the Name of the Father, would it have been possible to write a film like this then? And also, Oorlagh, I’d like you to talk about working with your father and the challenges of making this movie.
A. [Terry George] Well, this is sort of the bookend of three movies that Jim Sheridan and I did. This is the book end of In the Name of the Father, Some Mother’s Son, The Boxer and now the peace has taken hold, and this little film is about reconciliation, peace and people coming together. So for me it’s the book end of that situation.
A. [Oorlagh George] It was a wonderful experience. The biggest challenge we had was that we shot in a the bay and twice a day we all picked up the camera equipment and ran in and out so Ciaran Hinds and all of our actors, Conleth Hill, were literally grabbing camera gear and running. And like my dad said, we just wanted to tell one of the little stories of personal reconciliation that goes along with the national reconciliation. So it was a thrill this [unintelligible] movie coming full circle.
Q. I actually was one of the producers for God of Love that won this category last year. So my question for [you] guys is are you ready for the ride of your life starting tonight?
A. [Terry George] I actually thought it had happened already, but I’ll take your word for it.
Q. I wondered how you plan to celebrate when you get home with family and friends? What message would you like to send to them right now?
A. [Terry George] Well, I’m going to go back to the little village where we shot this. Already tonight they had an Oscar party at a place called The Anchor Bar, so I’m going to return with the prize, and then hopefully use it to promote, not just the peace process in Northern Ireland, but tourism and everything that’s going on there. So I hope that this is just a reaffirmation that things have changed there and that we’re trying to move on and it’s a great place to be.
Bret McKenzie, Best Original Song Oscar winner for The Muppets’ “Man or Muppet,” at the 2012 Academy Awards after-party. The song had only one competitor: Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown, and Siedah Garrett’s “Real in Rio,” from Carlos Saldanha’s Rio. (Image: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.)
“I grew up in New Zealand watching The Muppets on TV,” McKenzie said in his acceptance speech. “I never dreamed I’d get to work with them. And I was genuinely starstruck when I finally met Kermit the Frog. But once you get to know him, he’s just a normal frog. And like many stars here tonight, he’s a lot shorter in real life. Just a few jokes.”
Bret McKenzie kept on with his “jokes” at the q&a backstage. See partial transcript (courtesy of AMPAS) below.
Q. Here you are joining the ranks of Hugh Jackman, Jane Campion. How does such a tiny country like New Zealand produce so many award winning artists…?
A. Well, it’s a great place to grow up. You can do whatever you want there. Uhm, whereas, America, I think everyone’s obsessed with their careers. New Zealand, you get to just live your dreams.
Q. Bret, being a Flight of the Choncords fan, how was it writing the song without Jemaine [Clement]?
A. Seems to work, seems to have come off very well. But, uhm, well, I am looking forward to writing with Jemaine in the future here. Because I can, you know, I will being able to pull out the Oscar card, and say, “Oh, I think we should use this chord,” and I won an Oscar. So, yes.
Q. … Two songs were nominated for this. Why do you think that is and what particularly do you think about your song, not only allowed you to be nominated, but, like, to win?
A. Well, I am not sure why they only nominated two songs, but I was very happy with that situation. … I think the system, you know, leads itself toward musicals instead of songs, you know, the needle dropped.
Why my song won? To be honest, I think it was one of those musical numbers where, uhm, everyone did a great job, James Bobin, the director, did such a cool video. Jason Segel just channeled his, I don’t know – he went really deep in his performance, both in the recording and on the screen. And, uhm, yeah, just felt like it was one of those, one of those things that fell into place very easily.
Q. Thank you, thank you. So, have to ask, do you feel certain amount of pressure living up to the legacy of previous Muppet songs? Like the “Rainbow Connection”?
A. Like the classic “Rainbow Connection”? I absolutely do. And, uhm, a friend of mine said, when I got the job of working on the film … “You will need to write another “Rainbow Connection.” And I said, “You’re right.” And I didn’t. And it’s an honor to get this because “Rainbow Connection” didn’t win an Oscar, but there’s no doubt that that song is, you know, an absolute, timeless classic, and this is nothing in comparison.
Q. You mentioned Jim Henson the Muppets creator when you were up on stage. Can you talk about what he meant to you growing up and what this means? Just talk about your next [inaudible] and what he means to you?
A. Yeah. In the eighties, when I was at home a lot watching TV, my dad one day brought home a video recorder, and that was the latest thing. He’d been to America and came back with a video recorder. No one else had one. It was pretty exciting, but he only had two video cassettes, and one was The Dark Crystal. So, my brother and I watched that movie at least twice a week for, I guess, for about five years.
So, uhm, infinitely, Jim Henson influenced me, and I think it’s you know, he is a huge inspiration. And, uhm, the other thing I love about the guy is he made children’s, uhm, films that I think he found funny; that he was making them for adults that didn’t patronize the minds of children.
Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne, Jim Rash
Below is a partial transcript (courtesy of AMPAS) of the q&a conducted backstage with Rash, Faxon, and Payne.
Q. You guys are the first to start a huge trend which is called [Angelina] Jolie’ing with the leg.
Q. Tell me about kind of making fun of her to her face right there and like how did that come about, and how hot is she?
A. (Faxon) She’s supremely hot. And Jim did the leg first and he didn’t tell us, tell me, so I had to like quickly adapt, but, yeah, so I’ll let him know the inspiration.
A. (Rash) I just saw her pose and I thought, you know what, we have exactly the same legs and I wanted to show everyone what it meant. It was a loving tribute. It was more like, oh, she’s standing, great, I’m going to stand like that, too.
Q. … [W]hen we talked to you a few months ago when the movie was about to come out, and people were saying this could very well be an Oscar contender, and you seemed to have some doubts about that, at least at our roundtable. And I’m just wondering when did it finally sink in for you that this was going to be an award-worthy film, that you were going to start getting awards and so forth for this?
A. (Payne) Well, I guess when the awards started rolling in you can never be sure until that point, you know. It’s a funny question to answer. I don’t really remember.
Q. I was wondering, from their first draft, what did you keep, what did you like, because I’m under the impression that you just rewrote everything and shot with your version of the script. And I’m just wondering what you kept from what Jim and Nat did.
A. (Payne) They paved a path for me because they had been through the book quite a few times, they had done a number of drafts. … I’ve got to say in all honesty it was helpful for me to read their drafts both for what I kept and what I didn’t keep. I was able to sort of – they gave me the luxury to be able to pick and choose what I personally responded to.
What I didn’t keep, for example, was more screen time with the younger daughter rather than with the older daughter. … I was much more interested in the relationship with the older daughter. Two items in particular which I did keep, neither of them, sadly, made it in the final film: the girl singing “that shit is bananas.” Anyway, in one scene – you have to read the script, it’s not interesting to talk about [it].
And at the very end something … carried over from the novel, which was kind of a joke at the end of what became in the film – we hope a poignant spreading of the ashes – there was a joke which punctuated that. We shot that, that didn’t make it into the final film. But the [unintelligible], it’s just a matter of taste what one picks and chooses from a novel.
Q. Essentially a question for Jim. How could NBC ever cancel Community when now the Oscar winning Dean Pelton is on that?
A. (Rash) I guess I should take these into their offices tomorrow and see what I can do. You know, the good news is we’re back on March 15th so maybe hopefully maybe this will help with Season 4, I don’t know.
Q. A quick Community question. Are you going to bring the Oscar with you when you do go back, and how do you think the rest of the cast is going to react?
A. (Rash) It’s smart to take it because most people know where they stand with you. It’s a great accouterment for any outfit they might put me in. It just seems sensible.
Q. Alexander, I wondered if you would translate what you said in Hawaiian in that nice tribute to your mom, but also in doing that, talk about how you adapted the Hawaiian culture, especially using the music in telling the story.
A. (Payne) I’m so happy to correct you. It wasn’t Hawaiian, it was Greek. … Essentially that’s “I love you very much” in Greek. As for, as you say, adapting Hawaiian culture and folding it into the film and using the music, thanks for the question.
In retrospect I have to say, yeah, I am proud of the fact that I was able to spend a number of months in Hawaii before shooting, using Kaui Hart Hemmings, the novelist, as a guy opening the initial doors for me to get it right because they could be quite specific and judgmental out there in Hawaii in kind of nailing what they do. And the use of music, I’ve said this before, forgive me for repeating myself, but I thought it would be inelegant not to try to score the film with 100 percent Hawaiian music, given the plethora of music out there which never extends beyond the isles.
Q. I recently saw you were at the Spirit Awards. And you talked a lot about taking original work and making it your own, so I was just curious about what you took from the book and how you put your own original spin on it.
A. (Rash) Well, I think, you know, after our first draft, actually I’m meeting with Alexander and our producer, Jim Burke, and getting some notes, that was sort of a thing that Alexander said to us to put the book aside for a second and get ourselves into understanding this character better. So I think it was more to sort of be able to put that away for a second and expand on it and let the scenes and the emotions there carry us through it, you know, and brighten that story.
Q. Mr. Payne, like the novelist William Kennedy’s ties to Albany, you have very profound and deep ties to Nebraska. And now that this Hawaiian story is over, what is the next part of your Nebraska identity, Nebraska roots, cultural ties and moves, and where does Nebraska fit into your future, sir?
A. (Payne) … It’s been ten years since I’ve shot there and I haven’t shot there since ’01 since About Schmidt and I’m anxious to go back. If I can cast it right, the next screenplay I’m involved in directing is a father-son road trip from Billings, Montana, to Lincoln that gets waylaid in a small town in central Nebraska.
I’m from Omaha, so in a way my trying to interpret small-town Nebraska is as exotic an endeavor as going to Hawaii. But I’m anxious to do so. I’m having trouble casting it, quite frankly, but I hope it works out.
A. (Payne) Because the characters – I didn’t write the script, by the way, I rewrote it, but I didn’t originate it. [The characters] are very specific. I’m having trouble finding [specific] people to fill those roles.
Q. Why March of the Penguins? And did you guys have a back story for the final thing that they watched? Was it on? Did someone pick it?
A. (Payne) He’s asking about March of the Penguins which is over the final shot of the family watching television. I have to tell you something. It’s a funny thing, it fell off the truck. I came into the cutting room after shooting, and one of the assistant editors had just dropped it in there, and we – we meaning the editor and I – tried to replace it during the months and months of editing, and we never found anything better so there it stayed. It’s one of those things. Fell off the truck.
Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne, Jim Rash photo: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Daniel Junge
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daniel Junge, Oscar-winners for the Documentary Short Subject Saving Face, attend the Governors Ball following the 84th Academy Awards held at the Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. (Image: Darren Decker / © A.M.P.A.S.)
Saving Face tells the story of women who have had their faces disfigured by acid attacks in Pakistan. Below is the transcript of the q&a (courtesy of AMPAS) with Obaid-Chinoy and Junge held in the pressroom backstage.
A. (Junge) This is only a third less nerve racking than being up there. But still all the same. I think it’s important to note that this is the first Pakistani director nominated and now winning an Academy Award, which is really worth, yeah, applaud. Thank you.
Q. Hi. I am wondering other than, of course, winning, what has been the most exciting thing about your night so far, and what is next for you?
A. (Junge) Well, we just stepped off the stage, and the first two people we encountered were … What were their names?
A. (Obaid-Chinoy) Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. And because Angelina has a connection to Pakistan, because she’s been there, it was really nice to chat with her about that and give her a copy of our film.
Q. First of all, congratulations for making Pakistan so proud, Sharmeen and Daniel. Sharmeen, in an interview with Voice of America, you said that winning an Oscar was never a destination, it was never a goal in front of you. What does Oscar mean for you?
A. (Obaid-Chinoy) Well, I think that it reinforces the fact today that you can be anyone and come from anywhere, but if you put quality work out there, that it will be judged on just that; the work that you put out there. And I think that some of the choices that the Academy’s made today – an Irani [sic] film has won, a Pakistani film has won – shows that, yes, the Academy does value good work that’s put out across the world, not just in North America.
Q. Congratulations. What would you like for Americans to know about Pakistan that we probably don’t know?
A. (Obaid-Chinoy) That it’s possible that women like myself are born and raised there – emancipated, educated women, who return back to Pakistan to give back to that country. I lived in the United States for ten years. I went to college here and worked here, and I chose to go back because people like myself need to go back to create change in Pakistan.
Q. When you look back at the challenges that you have to go through while making this movie – and, obviously, you overcame them – how do you feel about that now that you’ve won the Oscar?
A. (Junge) Any and all films are challenging, especially for we documentary filmmakers and even more so when you are documenting such dark, difficult subject matter. But I think that the fact that we were able to find redemption within the film and … that a hint of change happened while we were in the film is really as valuable as this, but not quite.
Q. Congratulations. Being the first filmmaker from Pakistan to win, can you tell us what kind of film industry you have in Pakistan? Is it thriving or is it also affected by the worldwide trend?
A. (Obaid-Chinoy) In the fifties and sixties we had a vibrant film industry. Unfortunately, after that, it sort of died down. And now my generation, there are a number of filmmakers. We are trying to revive that, but it’s few and far between. And I hope that this will be an impetus to getting a more flourishing film industry in Pakistan.