City Weekly: What were the challenges of getting this film financed?
Debra Granik: When we first started the journey with Winter’s Bone ... people were very flush—this would be about five years ago—and the idea of a film about the lives of … Americans that have very limited financial resources seemed very unappealing. The subject matter of … living in a way that doesn’t have material accumulation felt like a downer. Once you leave the coasts, the subject matters are stories that often get discriminated against.
CW: As someone who is not from the region, how did you approach making sure that the setting felt authentic?
DG: The idea that we weren’t from this region was daunting, and yet Daniel Woodrell’s novel … is so rich in its description. The book is filled with this ardor for the Ozark region, and we were able to definitely conjure things. Then it was like, “What if we’re conjuring it wrong?” It’s daunting and exciting to take that challenge, to say … “I live in a very specific piece of the United States … it’s a metropolis, and my geography defines me greatly. What would happen if I step outside of what I know? How would I navigate? Is a bridge possible?
CW: Winter’s Bone is playing well in towns near where it’s set, places that aren’t usually part of the release pattern for independent films. How has it felt to have that community embrace the film?
DG: That is the sweetest, because that’s the question … that never left us for one hour of making this film: Would [it] be worthy enough that the people in the area … feel their participation was worthwhile, that they don’t feel it’s a sweeping misrepresentation of Ozarks contemporary life? Of all the sweet things that could come out of this, having this play in the heartland and having it feel that some part of their valiant lives … is somehow given credence on screen—that would make me happy.