"I had never really auditioned or gone into a job interview in that way since maybe 1988 or '87," the director told MTV at the Cannes Film Festival. "I guess I was unprepared for that. Usually people just hire me."
Despite a push from 'Twilight' heartthrob Robert Pattinson, Van Sant didn't get the gig, which instead went to 'Dreamgirls' helmer Bill Condon. "I was talking about the book, and really all I was saying was 'OK, this is great, let's go do it,'" he said. "That was my pitch and I think they're used to something else."
What producers wanted was a clear vision of what Van Sant hoped to do with 'Breaking Dawn,' and they expected that vision to closely mirror the final book in Stephenie Meyer's mega-selling vampire saga.
"They're used to -- for those of you who might audition for film jobs -- they're used to like a 40-minute dissertation with perhaps visual aids and a pep talk about how fantastic this project is going to be, and I just didn't know how to how do that," Van Sant said.
Producers also passed on 'Somewhere' and 'Lost in Translation' director Sofia Coppola before settling on Condon.
'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1' hits theaters Nov. 18. Van Sant is in Cannes with his latest film, 'Restless,' starring Mia Wasikowska, which hits theaters stateside on Sept. 16.
Watch Van Sant's interview with MTV below: