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September 2014

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Page 21 of 51 20 POST SEPTEMBER 2014 lthough he may not be a house- hold name, director/producer Shawn Levy is one of the most commer- cially-successful fi lm directors of the past 15 years. To date, his fi lms, including The Internship, Date Night, Real Steel, What Happens in Vegas, The Pink Panther, Cheaper By The Dozen and the block- buster Night at the Museum franchise, have grossed over two billion dollars worldwide. And while Woody Allen's a-fi lm-a-year output is viewed with awe as the gold standard of workmanlike creativity, Levy is currently even more prolifi c, with three major fi lms due for release in the next few months. First up is the dramedy This is Where I Leave You, starring an ensemble that includes Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda. Then comes Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third in the series which once again stars Ben Stiller, Owen Wil- son, Ricky Gervais and Steve Coogan. And sandwiched in-between is the new kiddie comedy Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, starring Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner, which he produced. Here, in an exclusive inter- view with Post, Levy talks about the chal- lenges of making three movies at once and his love of post and visual eff ects. How do you handle all the challenges of directing and producing? "I've been multi-tasking for so long now I confess, I'm addicted. I really enjoy the creative dexterity demanded by multiple projects, and I can give each full focus, whether it's for a few hours or a few months. So I love the creative diversity, and I hope to keep working on a wide range of movies. I've been waiting for ten movies to make a human-scale, relation- ship-driven, character-based fi lm like This Is, because although I've been very successful with these big broad comedies, you get pigeon-holed. When I fi rst went to Warners about doing it, as I'd read and loved the book, they instead off ered me The Flash. They had this perception about me only doing tent-pole-type fi lms. So while I love the big movies, I also love doing smaller fi lms." Let's start with This Is Where I Leave You. Where did you shoot? "It was a tight 32 days in New York, and totally do-able. Night fi lms are more like 80 days. Even Date Night was 60 days. So we worked very fast, the budget was under $20 million, and we did it by shooting in a real house on Long Island. The only set is the basement. The rest is all real, and it was challenging to light and shoot, but liberating and you get an authenticity you can't get on stages." Where did you do the post? How long was the process? "Mostly all in New York City. We had space in the PostWorks facility and edited and did all our sound work and mix there, and the city gave it all a unique rhythm I feel. I could walk to work, whereas in LA you have to drive everywhere." Do you like post? "I love it so much I actually spent July 4th weekend editing Night. In post you really remake your movie and fi nd it, and I still fi nd it amazing how in post things reveal themselves that you simply don't see in the writing and shooting process. It's always a big surprise." Tell us about the editing process. You work a lot with the great father- and-son editing team of Don and Dean Zimmerman. "After the second Night movie, I began working solely with Dean, and he cut Date Night, Real Steel, This Is Where I Leave You and Night 3, and we pretty much overlapped in terms of cutting the last two. So while I was editing This Is, I was simultaneously overseeing the rewrite and prep of Night 3, so that by the time Dean fi nished color-timing and delivering This Is in New York, it was time for him to join me in Vancouver where we shot Night 3 (Laughs). Like me, he has a very indul- gent and patient family! Over the years we've developed this system where he edits while I cut. I spend many nights and weekends on the shoot in the edit with Dean, so our very fi rst assembly has a shape and quality — it's a slightly polished assembly. And now we're back in LA do- ing the real edit of Night 3 on the Fox lot." What were the challenges of making the third Museum fi lm? "A level of spectacle and a diversity of spectacle, beyond what we'd done in the fi rst two." VFX have really evolved. Were you able to do stuff you simply couldn't before? "Completely. We really wanted to push it, and do far more than simply bringing statues to life. It has mythical creatures and constellations, and a huge action sequence inside a Surrealist artwork, and we were able to do all that with a level BY IAIN BLAIR A THE CHALLENGES OF MAKING THREE MOVIES AT ONCE SHAWN LEVY: NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3 & THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU DIRECTOR'S CHAIR Shawn Levy on-set. His budget savings during production often make their way into post.

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