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Meet 6 Best First Feature/John Cassavettes Spirit Award Nominees

By Indiewire | Indiewire February 24, 2012 at 1:38PM

Ahead of tomorrow's ceremony, get to know six of this year's nominees for the Best First Feature and the John Cassavettes Award at the 2012 Independent Spirit Awards by checking out the profiles below. Go here for the full list of nominations.
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Spirit

Ahead of tomorrow's ceremony, get to know six of this year's nominees for the Best First Feature and the John Cassavettes Award at the 2012 Independent Spirit Awards by checking out the profiles below.

Go here for the full list of nominations.

Mike Cahill, "Another Earth"

Spirit Nomination: Best First Feature and John Cassavettes Award

What's it about? "Another Earth" is about a girl, a guy, and 7 billion doppelgangers. It's about the meeting place between self-judgement and self-empathy.

Cahill says: "The biggest challenge was probably finding a male lead. I saw many different, and very talented actors for the part of John - but no one was exactly right. So we began shooting everything we could without that part being cast. Halfway through, our casting directors suggested sending the script to William [Mapother]. I knew immediately he would be perfect, and thankfully he liked the project and signed on."

Adam Reid, "Hello Lonesome"

Spirit Nomination: John Cassavettes Award

What's it about? It’s about a bunch of characters looking for a spark of true connection wherever they can find it.

Reid says: "With 'Hello Lonesome,' I decided to pick up the camera and shoot it myself even though I’m a rookie cinematographer. All of our locations were donated. We didn’t have an art department or a stylist. The entire crew on set was five people. I thought it would be a struggle working this way, but really, it was a gift. Working super small made it a more intimate experience. We were able to spend every minute of our fifteen-day shoot focusing on the actors, getting right down to the real business of mining their souls and making each other laugh."

Matthew Gordon, "The Dynamiter"

Spirit Nomination: John Cassavettes Award

What's it about? A 15 year old boy doing his best to protect his younger brother and achieve his dream to reunite his family. In the end, he is forced to make tough decisions when he accepts that his dreams are not possible to realize.

Gordon says: "The single biggest challenge I had was to believe in myself and the story enough to risk making the film. Just getting over the question- can I/we really do this? The team really lifted the project forward. Then, of course, money is a very big challenge too."

J.C. Chandor, "Margin Call"

Spirit Nomination: Best First Feature

What's it about? The film follows a single piece of devastating information up the chain of command at a prominant NY based investment bank. How each of those characters react to that information hopefully gives audiences a window into how we got to where we are as a country.

Chandor says: "I have been making movies in one form or another since I was seven or eight years old. There was always something that drew me to it. In my later years the financial realities and responsibilities of supporting my young family almost pulled me away from film but I gave it one last shot with 'Margin Call' and it has been a heck of a ride ever since."

Patrick Wang, "In The Family"

Spirit Nomination: Best First Feature

What's it about? Two dads are raising a kid in Tennessee. Tragedy strikes and separates father from son. The dad searches for a way back into his kid’s life.

Wang says: "The biggest challenge was defending the differences in the film. Parts of the world can be very hostile to differences, social or artistic."

Robbie Pickering, "Natural Selection"

Spirit Nomination: Best First Feature

What's it about? "It's a coming-of-age story about a woman in her 40's. The main character is a barren Texas housewife named Linda who discovers that her dying husband has a 23-year old illegitimate son living in Florida. Somewhere on the edge of fear and loneliness, Linda sets out to track the kid down and bring him back to Texas before her husband dies. Did I mention it's a comedy?

Pickering says: "At around 12 or 13, I started reading film criticism and became obsessed with a bunch of Coppola's post-'One From the Heart' films like 'Tucker' and 'Peggy Sue Got Married,' and that's really when I first became conscious of a director and started thinking that was really what I wanted to do."

This article is related to: Independent Spirit Awards, Awards, Another Earth, Hello Lonesome, Matthew Gordon, Margin Call, Natural Selection, Interviews