The 31st Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards took place on Feb. 28, 2016, at the beach in Santa Monica, Calif. Here is what this Spirit Award winner said backstage in the Spirit Awards press room.
Tom, did you feel a lot of responsibility did you and your cast feel to get this story right?
Tom McCarthy (director/co-writer): Of course, not only because we spent a lot of time with the [real-life Boston Globe team], but specifically getting to know some of the survivors, like Phil and Joan Crowley. I think we felt the collective weight of responsibility to present the story in a way that in no way seems sensationalized or gratuitous.
It was straightforward. We took, in large part, our inspiration from the reporting, from the work that these guys did, which was so direct and so on-point and so hard-hitting that it left no room for rebuttal. We certainly stand on their shoulders in making and telling the story. I would point to them first.
How important was the real-life Boston Globe journalists’ influence on the “Spotlight” actors?
McCarthy: Our first jobs as filmmakers is to be entertaining, but when we have material like this, we all knew it going in that we had an opportunity here, based on the work that they did, and we could give this story a whole new platform — a far-reaching platform and hopefully an enduring platform that can continue the dialogue on sexual abuse, not just in the Catholic Church, but on a wider spectrum — institutional sexual abuse and everything else. And you can really feel it in the last month, when the film was taking traction in that way, and the feedback. Without a doubt, as great as these awards are, that is the most rewarding element.
When you were making “Spotlight” with this great cast, did you ever have moments when you couldn’t believe what you had?
McCarthy: There were so many times. What was most enjoyable was just seeing these guys immediately click. I think it’s because they spent the time with the reporters and because they understood the collaborative nature of the process. They brought that spirit to the set.
And when you have this many good actors, some of them I knew closely but had not had a chance to work with, some of them like Michael [Keaton] and Rachel [McAdams], it was such a thrill to watch them immediately play in that team within scenes. It was so exciting on set. The crew was digging it. We were all digging it.
You know you can feel that energy. You still don’t know how the movie’s going to turn out. You never do until you edit it, but you could definitely get a sense of the exciting collaborative work that was being done.
For more info: Spirit Awards website
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