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June 2010

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DIRECTOR’S CHAIR By IAIN BLAIR lease of his debut feature film, Blood Guts, Bullets and Octane. Shot in his spare time and then edited on borrowed equipment at night, Carnahan’s calling card was made on a budget of just $8,000. For his encore, the well-received Narc, Joe Carnahan: The A-T W riter/producer/director Joe Car- nahan first established his gritty indie cred with the 1998 re- Re-making a TV classic for the big screen. the former freelance sports writer and TV trailer-cutter upped the stakes considerably — and it didn’t hurt that the Paramount re- lease was championed and executive pro- duced by Tom Cruise. Carnahan followed that with another acclaimed feature, Smokin’ Aces, before turning his attention to a $100 million redo of the popular ‘80s TV action- comedy series The A-Team, released this month by Fox. Here, Carnahan, who at press time was still in post on the film, talks about making The A-Team, which stars Bradley Cooper, Liam Neeson, Sharlto Copley and Quinton Jackson, his love of post, and how a rogue visual effects artist nearly got away with in- serting his likeness into one of the sum- mer’s biggest films. The A-Team was edited by Roger Barton and Jim May using Avid Media Composer Nitris. POST: What sort of film did you set out to make? JOE CARNAHAN: “People love The A- Joe Carnahan: “It’s funny now just how much more post influences what I write, knowing I won’t need this scene or that one.” Team, and half the reason I did this was be- cause my Scottish fiancée cajoled me into doing it. But I didn’t want to just transplant the TV show to the big screen. I thought that’d be a disaster because what worked 25 years ago ain’t gonna work now. It’d be akin to Chris Nolan rebooting Batman along the lines of the original campy series. “I wasn’t a huge fan of the show as a kid, although I was a fan of the culture of the show. Everyone knew who The A-Team was, due to Stephen Cannell creating a really en- tertaining, fun show.That was my point of departure. I wanted to keep the humor as much as possible, and make it very situa- tional and not punchy, one-line gimmicky. And with such a great cast I felt we had to really push ourselves.” POST: What were the biggest challenges? CARNAHAN: “We just didn’t have enough days for the shoot.We shot 73 main unit days, all in Vancouver, because it’s cheaper there than going to Morocco and all the things we’d discussed for locations.We shot some second unit location stuff, but it was 12 Post • June 2010 and it’s funny now just how much more post influences what I write, knowing I won’t need this scene or that one.You spend enough time in post and the whole editorial thought process really has a dramatic effect on all the stuff that comes before it — and particularly for me, the actual writing of the script.” POST: Where did you do the post? How long was the process? CARNAHAN: “We did it all on the Fox lot. It was about 18 weeks — really fast. Not long enough.” POST: Tell us about the editing process. CARNAHAN: “The film is edited by Roger Barton, who did the last Transformers and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and Jim May who cut the first Chronicles of Narnia and G.I. Joe.We cut on the lot, right opposite the Newman Stage and just down from Efilm and where they’re doing the DI, so it’s very convenient.They were on the set and started cutting last September and then we worked through until recently. With the huge amount of effects work coming in, and turning shots over — that’s been a little hair- raising at times, but the edit went great.” POST: How did all the visual effects shots the big tank drop, which is the big set piece in the middle, and they did an amazing job as everything’s CG in that. “What’s great is that years ago, I’d had a bad experience with them, so I was a little skeptical at first, but they really stepped it up. There was just one small wrinkle.The studio wanted to add a shot of the tank before we jump back inside with the cast, but we didn’t have that rendered, so we had to steal an existing shot and reverse it.And as we were in the middle of doing that, we realized that one of the Rhythm & Hues artists had sketched his face into a mountainside — and it was as clear as day! I couldn’t believe it! To say it was ballsy is to do a disservice to the word ballsy. And I was pissed! But they stepped up and took care of it all.” POST: Did they fire the guy? CARNAHAN: “No. He got a stern talk- ing to. The kid’s very talented and he did something really stupid and goofy. Unfortu- nately for them, the only thing he did was remove their ability to extend any of their deadlines (laughs).” POST: What was that the most difficult ef- fects shot to pull off? eam down to the budget and what we had to pull off for the money, and you don’t notice [the lack of locations] in the end. It’s like that with a lot of movies.The stuff we really sweat goes largely unnoticed by an audience if your sto- rytelling’s compelling enough.” POST: Do you like the post process? CARNAHAN: “I love it, and it’s my fa- vorite part of filmmaking. I’m a writer too, break down between Rhythm & Hues, Hy- draulx,Weta, Digital Domain, Soho FX and Giant Studios? CARNAHAN: “I’d say Rhythm & Hues did the majority of the work, with Weta and Digital Domain coming in a close second. Weta did the C130 sequence for us and worked with nothing but plates, and the work is phenomenal. Rhythm & Hues did

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