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December 2014

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Page 17 of 51 16 POST DECEMBER 2014 idley Scott is one of the supreme stylists of contemporary cinema as such oft-imitated and seminal works as Blade Runner, Alien and Thelma and Louise make abundantly clear. Now the three-time Oscar-nominated director, whose credits include Gladiator, Hanni- bal, Robin Hood, Black Hawk Down, A Good Year, Prometheus, and G.I. Jane, has turned his attention to the trials and tribulations of the Old Testament proph- et Moses, in the new epic production, Exodus: Gods and Kings. Based on the Book of Exodus story, the fi lm stars Christian Bale as Moses, along with Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver and Joel Edgerton. It also stars plagues of frogs and fl ies, and enough VFX to keep a small army of artists and designers busy for years. Here, in an exclusive interview, Scott talks about making the 3D fi lm, which was shot in Britain and Spain, his love of post, and how you go about parting the Red Sea. What sort of fi lm did you set out to make? "It was very ambitious, especially in the time it's set in, but then I feel I'm so experienced by now I know exactly what I'm taking on board. And part of the thrill of it was to try and recreate this universe that's set around 5,000 B.C. That's the big challenge, and when I fi rst read the draft that was sent to me, I realized just how very little I knew about Moses and the whole story. And apart from that, I loved the environment of ancient Egypt and these great characters like Moses and Ramses, so it became this very appealing project for me, and I really enjoyed making it." How early on did you decide to go 3D? "Immediately. I thought it was natural for 3D, and we used the 3ality Technica rigs and Red Epic Dragons. I'd had some experience with Prometheus and IMAX 3D, and so I decided to go again. And I'd worked a lot with [DP] Dariusz Wolski, who's also shooting my current fi lm, The Martian, and he's a brilliant cinematog- rapher who really understands 3D very well, having done all the Pirates of the Caribbean fi lms and so on." What were the technical challenges and how tough was the shoot? "We shot mainly on location in Spain, in the Canary Islands and Almeria, and in Britain at Pinewood. Spain was the big one, and then we had all the big landscapes at Fuerteventura in the Canaries, and the really massive chal- lenge was getting up this enormous set, almost a kilometer long, in Alme- ria, in time to start shooting. We were delayed and then suddenly had just 12 weeks to get it all done, which is insane when you haven't even broken ground yet! So dealing with all that was the big challenge — getting it all together and up and running. Once I had that, I knew that with all the VFX with Peter Chiang at Double Negative and also MPC, we were going to get it, whatever it took. Also, you've got more time for that — I had ten months for post compared with just those 12 weeks to get things up and started." The VFX are crucial. How early on did you integrate post with production? "I start it all immediately, as we shoot. I always do. I edit as we go, which makes life a lot easier for everyone else. And Peter Chiang was always there on the set while I was shooting, and we were always talking, side by side, every night, about what visual eff ects we need in what scenes and what we expect of them. And I also do a lot of boarding. I start well before we begin, same as I'm doing right now on The Martian. I board it all myself, which makes it more accurate. They're very instructive and they become the bible for everyone." Did you do a lot of previs? "We did quite a bit, with The Third Floor. The biggest challenge was the previs on water, obviously, and then previs on plates, which I could only mount a few bits and bobs to make them work. Then everything else I knew had to be overlaid with visual eff ects. But you've still got to get things moving on-set in a fairly big way, so you have some interactive movement and light and wind, or some- thing, before you even do all the VFX. So it's quite a challenge when you deliver the picture and say, 'OK, now lay on 20 million locusts.'" Do you like post? "I absolutely love it, and I love every part of making a movie, from the inception of the initial idea on. I'm getting pretty good now at deciding what I'm going to make next, and I already know what I'm going to make next year. And I learned very early on that you've got to make up BY IAIN BLAIR R SHOOTING 3D, RECREATING 5,000 BC AND PARTING THE RED SEA RIDLEY SCOTT: EXODUS DIRECTOR'S CHAIR Director Ridley Scott on-set with Moses, played by Christian Bale.

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