Director Debra Granik’s films are known for their visceral intimacy and gravitating performances, particularly from young talent. The most well-known example is her direction of Jennifer Lawrence’s Breakout role in Winter's Bone, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture in 2011. Another thing Granik’s films have in common is they seem made with exceptional love for both the complexity of her characters and the details of their environments.

In her latest, Leave No Trace, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year and is now hitting theaters, her casting is spot-on once again with a new young actress Thomasin McKenzie and actor Ben Foster of Hell or High Water fame. These two carry almost the entire narrative on their own with minimal dialog, as a father and daughter who live off the grid in the moody Oregon woods and whose peaceful but rogue existence is threatened when authorities try to fit them inside the box of mainstream society. 

In today’s episode, I learned the secret behind her great casting and the organic feeling of her films: fostering an environment throughout production where every cast and crew member has a willingness of to be flexible and adaptive to changes in circumstance. In this conversation with Granik and producers Anne Rossellini (who co-wrote Leave No Trace and has worked on every one of Granik’s films) and Anne Harrison, we talk about how they cultivate this quality among their collaborators, the steps they had to take to shoot in an unpredictable outdoor environment, and lots more.

Listen to the episode by streaming or downloading from the embedded player above, or find it on iTunes here.

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Featured image is s Thomasin McKenzie and Ben Foster in 'Leave No Trace'. This episode was edited by Jon Fusco.