Best Director – Motion Picture
BEST DIRECTOR ‑ MOTION PICTURE
Best Director ‑ Motion Picture
SAM MENDES: Goodness me. That is a big surprise. Thank you very much. Can I just say this. Not one director in this room, not one director in the world that is not in the shadow of Martin Scorsese. I just have to say that.
Too many people to thank. Everyone i know at Universal, Amblin, everyone at New Republic, three extraordinary producers, Pippa, Jayne‑Ann, Callam; two extraordianry actors, George and Dean. We built this movie around you. Thank you. An incredible cast and crew. Dennis Gassner, production designer. Lee Smith, and, of course, the great Roger Deakins, without whom we couldn’t possibly have made this.
I also want to take a leaf out of Tom Hanks’ book. I want to say thank you to my wife, Ali, for her love and support, without who I would never have even have sat down to write this.
And finally, I’d like to dedicate this to my grandfather, Alfred Hubert Mendes, who inspired this film. He signed up for the first World War. He was age 17, and I hope he’s looking down on us, and I fervently hope it never ever happens again. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Congratulations. SAM MENDES: Hi. QUESTION: You said in your speech that 1917 is a very specific theatrical experience, and I think it's incredible to see what Universal put behind it. Are you optimistic about the future of theatrical, and what do you think needs to be taken to preserve it? SAM MENDES: Oh, gosh, you start with the easy questions, then. I think that I am optimistic, actually, but I think it's in the hands of the filmmakers more than anything else. I think it's up to filmmakers to make films that need to be seen on a big screen and make an audience feel like if they don't see it on the big screen, they are going to miss out. I think that's the big challenge. I think when I was starting out, that was 20 years ago, and you could make a movie about American Beauty or one of the movies I've made since, like Revolutionary Road or Away We Go and you would have a guaranteed theatrical release, and I think that is no longer the case. However, you've got an incredible platform for those movies to be seen by millions of people on wonderful television screens, and I don't think, as a director of those movies, that I would have been disappointed if Away We Go would have just been seen for a two-week window theatrically and then on TV. But I think what's important is filmmakers are ambitious and they use the tools of cinema, they use surround sound and IMAX and every fiber of their being to try to make big stories for big screens. QUESTION: Congratulations. So you founded the Donmar Warehouse in your early twenties, which is remarkable. So I guess what -- being at this point now, what would you tell that self? And what is something that you would like to hold onto from the person you were at that age? SAM MENDES: Well, I would tell myself, You are doing the right thing by running a small theater. I felt that was the making of me in a way. I loved that place. I felt it gave me an enormous amount, more than I gave it, in a way. It gave me a sense of community, a sense of building something that's not just one movie or one production after another, but something bigger, and I think that if there's something that I'd love to be able to do again in my life, is to do something like that. QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit more about Steven Spielberg's involvement in the film? Do you think it could have been made without Amblin Entertainment? SAM MENDES: No, it couldn't have been made without Amblin or Universal. The first time I met Steven Spielberg, I was 33 years old. I had never made a movie. I walked into the room with him, and he has treated me like an equal every day since. So when you send the script out, and someone like Steven says, This is incredible, I love this, I want to make it, you know, it's thrilling. He manages to be both a huge movie fan and a genius at the same time, which is an almost impossible balancing act. He supports you without ever getting in your way. And he gave this movie the best thing, which is enthusiasm from the word go. And he passed that enthusiasm on to the people beneath him in Amblin, to Jeb Brody, who was brilliant, and everybody at Universal, Ron Meyer and all the people there. But it comes from the top, so I have a huge amount to be grateful for. QUESTION: For George and Dean. The movie was shot very specifically. What was the challenge for you guys in giving your performance? DEAN-CHARLES CHAPMAN: First off, we started rehearsal six months before we started shooting, and as an actor, you don't get to rehearse that much. You just sort of step on set and do each other. We really got to dig our teeth into it even before we started shooting. Yeah, the rehearsals. GEORGE MACKAY: Yeah, I think the biggest challenge was probably the biggest and the best, actually, in terms of this is the most collaborative experience that I've ever had on a project, and it was a proper team effort, and that -- kind of more three-dimensional in a way that was needed in the making of this film, a proper shared experience. It was, I guess, at first, a challenge, but also the best thing about it. QUESTION: I just have a really fun question. How are you guys celebrating? KRYSTY WILSON-CAIRNS: With much alcohol and perhaps dancing. QUESTION: To the two actors, how much has this changed your life and your vision of what your future could be, not just in success but what you demand from an artistic endeavor, both of you? GEORGE MACKAY: I think -- well, for me personally I think what this story is about and the experience of doing it is when an experience is massive and bigger than yourself, it stretches you. It also teaches you what you come back to, so in terms of, like, I think the work we do is an extension of the life we have, and for me it's kind of made it clear where I root myself and family, and basically so it made it clear where I come back to, and that's by the same token where I sort of -- like the seed that everything grows from. So, yeah, that's become clear to me. QUESTION: But digging those trenches, you didn't dream of a night like tonight. GEORGE MACKAY: No, no. It was an amazing art department that dug the trenches, so we didn't have to. DEAN-CHARLES CHAPMAN: We had to be clean. QUESTION: And you? DEAN-CHARLES CHAPMAN: Yeah, I've learned a lot about being a human. It's weird when you compare your lives, that's how we meant it a hundred years ago, we have it many times easier. I'm just proud to be up here on stage with such amazing people, and it's an amazing night. QUESTION: Does it change your vision of where you could go or what you could do as an actor? DEAN-CHARLES CHAPMAN: Definitely. Definitely. I want to write a script as well after seeing Sam and Krysty. That's something I didn't want to do before this, and now I do, hopefully. QUESTION: Good luck. Congratulations.