SANTA MONICA - The big winner at today's Independent Spirit Awards was "12 Years a Slave," which picked up several major awards including Best Feature, Best Director (Steve McQueen) and Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o). 

McQueen, Nyong'o and prducer-co-star Brad Pitt discussed the long journey of bringing Solomon Northup's harrowing ordeal to the big screen. 

Pitt explained that the film is the type that's "difficult material to get made, to get money for," but having McQueen lead the way turned it into a success. 

"We were banging on Steve's door after his first film ['Hunger'], having no idea that it would lead to this project," Pitt revealed. "I love this film," he added candidly, "It's why I wanted to get into film...to be a part of something that doesn't come along that often."

McQueen was careful to give shout outs to everyone who worked to make the film a reality, from the hair and makeup experts to the grips, camera crews and electricians, noting the "wonderful group of filmmakers who were passionate" in creating the film. 

Nyong'o, who is also nominated for an Oscar for her film debut, explained that she was drawn to  "the opportunity to embody such an incredible woman."

"The one thing that I have taken away is to be present," she continued. "I think it's the one thing that has gotten me through this crazy period of time."

That crazy period of time comes to a head tomorrow at the Academy Awards.