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July 2018

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www.postmagazine.com 12 POST JULY 2018 DIRECTOR'S CHAIR hen director Antoine Fuqua first collaborated with Denzel Washington in the acclaimed 2001 crime thriller Training Day, the re- sult was a commercial and critical hit that won Washington a Best Actor Academy Award and a Best Supporting Actor nomination for co- star Ethan Hawke. They reteamed for the 2014 vigilante action thriller The Equalizer, which be- came a $200 million global box office hit. And now the pair have reteamed for the fourth time (following the 2016 reboot The Magnificent Seven) on The Equalizer 2, out this month. With Washington back as retired CIA black ops operative Robert McCall and look- ing for revenge for his friend's murder, the film promises plenty of hyper-ki- netic action and extreme mayhem — Fuqua specialties. Fuqua got his start directing music videos for such stars as Prince, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Toni Braxton and Coolio, and made his feature film debut with The Replacement Killers in 1998. Since then he's directed such diverse films as Olympus Has Fallen, Brooklyn's Finest, international hit King Arthur, the boxing drama Southpaw and blues documen- tary Lightning in a Bottle, executive produced by Martin Scorsese. Through his production company, Fuqua Films, Fuqua is also busy gen- erating projects and content for both film and television. He is executive-pro- ducer on the Fox medical drama The Resident, starring Matt Czuchry and Emily VanCamp. He is also directing and executive-producing, with Lebron James, an untitled HBO Entertainment multi- part documentary film about the life and career of Muhammad Ali. Here, in an exclusive interview with Post, Fuqua, who was still deep in post on the eve of its release this month, talked about making the film and his love of post. Successful sequels to hit films are notoriously difficult to make. Did that make you nervous? "I just take it one movie at a time, so I didn't even think of this as a sequel, because when you do you can make the mistake of doing the same thing again, or just trying to outdo yourself. So I think each movie should be able to stand on its own. Obviously there's the DNA of the first one that you're trying to keep, the same qualities, the same character DNA that people enjoyed, but the script and story should work for people who may not have seen the first one." What sort of film did you set out to make? "A film about justice, about serving justice for those who can't help them- selves. For me, the Equalizer character is like a dark angel and I tried to make a film that's very grounded, very real, that has some mystery and doesn't tell you everything about him. I hate to use the word 'superhero,' but it's someone who has special skills and can help people." I'm surprised you haven't done a big superhero film. Why not? "I've been offered Marvel films but I just respond better to things that are a bit more grounded." What were the main technical challenges in pulling it all together? "The big thing was recreating a hurri- cane. You've got dialogue, action, all the VFX, jet engine fans blowing people and stuff around, a lot of moving parts, and you're filming next to the ocean, so it got pretty hairy on the ugly days. But then when we had beautiful weather that was also a huge problem as there's no sun shining in a hurricane. So sched- uling was very difficult, as we had to try and use shadows and also not get in the way of all the VFX when they took over. But I also didn't want to just create a digital world in the town we took over, so I had our production designer create as much as possible in-camera and then leave a lot of room for VFX to work on stuff like power lines and telephone poles moving and shaking — all the things you'd see in a real hurricane. So I had to shoot in a way where I didn't step on their toes and yet leave them enough room to recreate it as well. For example, for one scene I was filming at the top of a tower, and we had to do a bunch of plates of the tower from down below with a Technocrane, and it's technically very challenging to recreate a hurricane outdoors and get equipment up there. And we had a scene where this guy falls off the tower, so there was a lot going on, and doing it on-location is not easy." I assume you started integrating post and all the VFX on Day 1? "You have to. I storyboarded it all out first. The thing is, I like real locations, and when you're doing a film with big VFX, it's far easier to do it on a giant stage with green screen, as you can map it all out and you know exactly what it is. Locations are a lot more tricky. You might be shooting a bunch of trees in the background and it's not that windy on the day, so you know they'll all be removed in post and replaced with digi- tal trees that are really moving, and you have to plan all that from the start. Post starts almost before production now." Did you do a lot of previs? "I did. After storyboarding it all with an artist I go location scouting and take a lot of photos, and then I'll do previs on the areas that are more technically com- plicated, but not the entire sequences if I don't need to. So it's a useful tool." How tough was the shoot? "It was hard. We shot in Boston, which was great, but it was just long and gruel- ing with a lot of moving parts." ANTOINE FUQUA ON THE EQUALIZER 2 BY IAIN BLAIR RETURING TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL SEQUEL W Director Fuqua

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