'Winter's Bone' Director Re-Creates Life In The Ozarks Director Debra Granik, who won this year's Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, says Winter's Bone worked because the people in the Ozarks of Missouri opened their homes to the film crew. The details, from the ornaments on the refrigerators to the frayed Carhartt jackets, gave the film a hauntingly authentic feel.
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'Winter's Bone' Director Re-Creates Life In The Ozarks

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'Winter's Bone' Director Re-Creates Life In The Ozarks

'Winter's Bone' Director Re-Creates Life In The Ozarks

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

Our co-host, Michele Norris, spoke with the film's director.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

When Debra Granik first read the novel "Winter's Bone," she was at once taken with the story's central character, Ree Dolly.

DEBRA GRANIK: It's like - we felt we had been looking for her. We had been looking for a really rich and complex female protagonist to lead a film, and Ree caught us.

NORRIS: Granik was drawn to the girl's strength and her grit. And she was equally drawn to Ree's world - a troubled, tight-knit community deep in the Ozarks. It's a world Granik recreates hauntingly well for the screen.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WINTER'S BONE")

(SOUNDBITE OF DOGS BARKING)

NORRIS: In this scene, the local sheriff stops by to see Ree, played by the actress Jennifer Lawrence. The sheriff says he thinks her father has been cooking meth again.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WINTER'S BONE")

JENNIFER LAWRENCE: (as Ree Dolly) I know that's the charges you laid on him, but you ain't proved it on him. You got to prove it every time.

GARRET DILLAHUNT: (as Sheriff Baskin) That won't be no hard thing to do. In fact, that ain't even why I'm here. His court date's next week, and I can't seem to turn him up.

LAWRENCE: (as Ree Dolly) Maybe he sees you and ducks.

DILLAHUNT: (as Sheriff Baskin) It could be. And where you all come into this is he put this house here and your timber acres up for his bond.

LAWRENCE: (as Ree Dolly) He what now?

DILLAHUNT: (as Sheriff Baskin) Jessup signed over everything. If he doesn't show at trial, see, the way the deal works is you all are going to lose this place. You got someplace to go?

LAWRENCE: (as Ree Dolly) I'll find him.

DILLAHUNT: (as Sheriff Baskin) Girl, I've been looking.

LAWRENCE: (as Ree Dolly) I said I'll find him.

NORRIS: She's tough.

GRANIK: Indeed.

NORRIS: And you get the sense that she's so tough because of where she comes from. Could you do me a favor and - because most of our listeners will not have seen this film at this point - could you describe the world that the characters in "Winter's Bone" inhabit?

GRANIK: And we were inextricably tied - the fate of this film was tied to a local fixer, if you will, or guide. His name is Richard Michael, and he sort of paved the way for us to make it happen.

NORRIS: So how did you actually then get everything just right? Because you went to great lengths to do that. How did you make sure that the clothes were right, that the home was arranged just right and that you didn't fall into some sort of cliches or stereotypes?

GRANIK: And, you know, sometimes I'd bring it all down to our 6-year-old guide, Ashlee Thompson, who belonged to the property that we're filming on. She was the granddaughter of the matriarch and patriarch of the family. And we sort of agreed. I just said, you know, in some of these scenes, Ashlee, if you could just play and we'll record that, that would work really well for this. And she was very willing to play along with us in that sense.

NORRIS: So the 6-year-old, Ree's youngest sister, actually lived in the house where you did all the filming?

GRANIK: Yes. She's from that land and that is her home.

NORRIS: Some of the most moving moments in this film are when you see Ree taking care of her younger siblings, telling them to, you know, stir the taters that are on the stove. Or, in one scene, she teaches them how to actually shoot a gun.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "WINTER'S BONE")

LAWRENCE: Now, this gun is what you'll use when you're older. But this one is the gun I learned on. This is daddy's squirrel gun. Now, the most important thing is do not put your finger on the trigger unless you're ready to shoot, you're aimed at your target and don't ever - both of you look at me - never point this at each other. Not ever. All right? Kneel down like you're praying. Yeah, just like that. Yup.

NORRIS: This scene, I understand, was a difficult day of shooting. Why was it hard to get that scene just right?

GRANIK: And the idea that people can imbue children with a very great respect for something was also something that moved me.

NORRIS: Debra, you recently returned from a trip to the Ozarks where you showed this film. What kind of reaction did you get there?

GRANIK: Then we took it a little further, and during the course of these screenings, I feel like people were rattling off some of these sayings that they felt where the film depicted some tried and true either visual elements of the Ozarks or a vibe, you know, from the weather, from the scrabble. So I felt a very positive reaction.

NORRIS: Debra Granik, thanks so much for talking to us.

GRANIK: Thank you very much.

NORRIS: Debra Granik is the director of the film "Winter's Bone."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: You can read a review of "Winter's Bone" and watch scenes from the film in the movies section of our website, npr.org.

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BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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