Making '12 Years a Slave' Like 'Dancing With Ghosts' Says Director

Steve McQueen, Chiwetel Ejiofor on preparing for Oscar-nominated film.
3:00 | 01/23/14

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Transcript for Making '12 Years a Slave' Like 'Dancing With Ghosts' Says Director
-- Yeah. As they shot in a 108 degree heat and centuries old Louisiana plantations. Where such atrocities once actually took place. The makers of twelve years a slave. Coined a phrase that captured the -- -- of their work. It would really felt the -- of -- Johnson -- ghost. We were right there in the places where these things happened and we felt that the place was alive with the sort of imaging of that -- deck -- -- off. -- -- -- With the scent of the toss the program that was there was a plantation. Says it's -- lived. Is in the years and she -- So you didn't presence of a time and place which couple of times. But it's entitled I'm wouldn't. Just five months since it was first shown to an audience twelve years -- -- Directed by Steve McQueen and starring she would tell Ngo forum is already being called a defining film about slavery. A best picture nominee about a subject this gracefully overlooked throughout much of Hollywood history. For me either there was little hole in the -- -- -- There had been the racist birth of the nation in 1950. The -- seventies potboiler -- bingo. Serio comic vengeance fantasy jingle and change. Now 44 year old McQueen wanted to tell a story from a new perspective. -- -- -- about a three -- three African American who gets to them into slavery -- -- people didn't know. That -- -- free but men and women giving them all take well. The story of an African -- America have been done to lose very effectively. But for me it was interest in -- -- was actually an American. Was kidnapped him and dragon slave. You think he does not know that -- wanting you suggest. Much of twelve years -- slave narratives and dialogue come directly from the memoir of Solomon northmen. Northern musician cruelly dispatched to a series of southern slave owners beginning in 1841. From the start McQueen knew he wanted to play Solomon -- -- it's -- you for now 36. Initially resisted the -- treaty. When they offered. You this you said no. Yeah -- Sitka moment you know I've never seen a film from inside this experiments from inside the slave experience in the and I felt the responsibility of and I needed to kind of have become a kind of moment to work -- just how to get there. What -- you have to have. -- -- -- -- Pricing starts -- him. Reminds you are both funds and myself -- puts -- this thing you know this matter is this kind of dignity and him. And he has -- the dignity in an environment which is totally inhumane. And -- leaves only one who has that quality. You'll look very maintenance and. Crushed by intolerable circumstances. Fights for more than three. -- for the embattled police oh he's trying to hold it together it's very difficult so -- -- home to mind. It was a fight for his mind cannot speak of what -- -- His antagonist is death plus crazy from the heat plantation owner played by Michael Fassbinder. A broader battle climaxes with the fate of the young -- patsy role for which McQueen considered hundreds of actress. We're using newcomer. -- Oscar nominee for supporting actress who -- young bill. Now it hasn't gotten. -- day out. Cougars. And -- Russell. Whenever -- foreign someone what -- want to -- was -- -- that could breeze that the breeze comes on the back of and if you feel the presence of something. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Interest and she's -- his aptitude for me -- -- We Michaels has been on pastures. The first rehearsal she came into -- what about boom boom. You see these guys again OK I gotta get my act together to get -- taken. Your skills McQueen was one of his key directing methods the long uncut take. Captured by a single camera the sustained intensity -- that has marked his films from the higher -- saga hunger. The sex addiction of -- We don't like -- Should Britain do they want to do it and we try to Trace that pastor in order to secure pressure now -- -- I public -- in that. -- -- -- -- would have that would come out that the press would have been if used. 35 day shoot that external pressures to alleviated in part by Brad Pitt and significance in the film as producer. Is 1800 -- actor. Can be gleaned in part from this kind of comically inappropriate and -- authorized Italian poster. About Brad Pitt in a movie that fidelity of the situation -- -- was fundamental. In making this -- And without him they would not -- told his slim. And -- New -- -- descendants of Solomon north looks were there. My name's Justin -- Norman human in the third generation great great great great and that's a remarkable experience. And not least because -- -- different races seen no -- descendants of this of this man. I mean that's for the solar power. There is such a passion and love in this story. And it is that -- I think it allows him to you to get through. As a prize for best picture on its stature already suggests that twelve years the -- may become part of the film's cannon. It was meant to redress if this movie lines of getting taught in schools if generations of schoolchildren watched this -- -- people. The happy. -- this can be useful you know and so the as a branch. Who would have thought -- -- let's -- this death. And -- sort of useful you know vessel one of the Islamism. Washington the two guns -- because -- -- lose. I'm -- -- for Nightline. In Los Angeles.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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