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March 2013

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director's chair David O. Russell — Silver Linings Playbook L By RANDI ALTMAN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF He talks film, the edit and magical lighting. Jennifer Lawrence got an Oscar for her role as Tiffany. 14 OS ANGELES — What about a film piques your interest and keeps you riveted? Well, for two-time Oscar-nominated director David O. Russell (2010's The Fighter and the recent Silver Linings Playbook), it's a focus on personalities and emotion. That was the driving force behind The Weinstein Company film, which was nominated for eight Oscars in all, including in each of the acting categories: Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence, who won), Best Supporting Actor (Robert DeNiro), and Best Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver). In order to tell Silver Linings Playbook's highly personal story — the director's son has mood disorders — Russell opted to shoot on 35mm film on-location in a house and in a Philadelphia neighborhood. He cites the format's "lushness and richness" behind his decision. "I just like using film; call me old-fashioned," he says. If you've seen the movie, you likely felt early on that you were a fly on the wall, watching Pat (Cooper) and his family trying to maneuver their way through a difficult time. In order to help convey the feeling of being in the room with the characters, Russell opted to shoot 90 percent of Silver Linings Playbook on Steadicam, with the remaining 10 percent handheld. "Steadicam gives you a very organic and personal feeling to camera movement, allowing you to be in the room with [the characters]," he says, adding, "The camera movement itself is almost always emotional." You might have also noticed that the camera is a bit shakier at the start of the film, in a sense mirroring Pat's emotional state. Also, the camera focuses on Pat alone early on, but later in the movie, as he heals, other characters are let into the frame. "I wanted people to feel very intimate with his emotion in particular," explains Russell. "I wanted them to feel like they were inside of him and the intensity of that. The shots do open up as the film goes on and it steadies out as he gets better." So, while it helps to tell the story, Russell points out a more practical reason: "We had done the film in 33 days, with almost no traditional coverage. If we did, I don't think we would have ever made the schedule. We just got the scene on its feet and everybody was up on all cylinders, and they would all be covered in some way in almost every take." He says sometimes they would shift emphasis. "It was almost like a stage play, so the actors had to stay in it the whole time, and you didn't have to adjust to them powering down out of Post • March 2013 Post0313_014-15-directors chair david o russellRAV4FINALREAD.indd 14 the scene and then powering back up when we went to their side of the room. They were always emotionally present. That's the practical side of it, but there is that extra silver lining of having that emotional intensity where they are on their toes the whole time." Russell called on Into the Wild editor Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers, assistant editor on The Fighter, to cut the film. Both received Oscar nominations as well. Here, he answers our questions about making the film. with the editors? How did you decide who cut what? RUSSELL: "Crispin had been an assistant on The Fighter, and I like deputizing everyone — they need to be working on different scenes and in different rooms. But Jay was the ultimate authority and everything went through him, just as everything went through Pam Martin on The Fighter. That room is the ultimate room, but it means you can be chipping away at scene and trying things in another room. It's a good way to challenge David O. Russell on set (middle, with Cooper and Lawrence): I believe in healthy debate, and I believe that the creative process benefits from being challenged." POST: We interviewed your senior editor Jay Cassidy recently. He said the most challenging part of the film for him was the first act, where Pat was at his most manic. Did you feel that way as well? RUSSELL: "The first part of the movie is uncomfortable. You are also laying a lot of groundwork, establishing a lot of things, and that is probably why it was hard to cut. The same thing with The Fighter… the first 20 minutes of that movie were in a lot of ways the most challenging because you are establishing so many different things: their world, their relationships, all these different people. "This was similar. You were establishing the circumstances of him just coming out of the hospital, the fact that he still wanted his wife, that he was on edge, that his father was concerned. Setting the tone and suspending the viewer, so they were hooked and leaning forward. That all took some work, and some editing, to get those first scenes of Bradley and Jacki Weaver (Pat's mom)." POST: Can you talk about how you worked each other and to find and refine things. Jay almost always helped make them better, which is not a surprise, but we would cook up ideas in Jay's room or Crispin's room. "We also broke off sequences, like the football game, and went into Crispin's room and fooled around with it for a couple of weeks, then back into Jay's room." POST: I would imagine the dance scene was tough to cut as well. RUSSELL: "Jay had the foresight to see this coming. He said, 'It always happens — we are not going to spend enough time on the last act of the film, so I am going to jump ahead and start working on the end, the dance scene.' I typically like to be there working on everything with the editor, but I was really glad he blazed that trail on the last section of the movie, because it saved us. We would have arrived there without enough time or attention to give." POST: Were they on set at all? RUSSELL: "No. In fact, I hadn't met Jay. Pam Martin, who did my first movie The 2/28/13 6:27 PM

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