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January 2015

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Page 16 of 51 15 POST JANUARY 2015 Where did you shoot and how long was it? "We shot it in just 16 weeks, all over Britain — even the scenes in Holland. I deliberately don't put labels all over it saying where we are, so you can just allow it to flow. Turner did travel all over Europe, especially the Alps, and you get a sense of that, I think." This was shot by Dick Pope, who has shot several films for you, including Secrets & Lies, Naked and Life is Sweet. What does he bring to the mix? "I think he's a brilliant DP, and we had a long time to be able to look at all the paintings. There's a scene where Turner refuses to sell all his work to this millionaire, the 20,000 pieces that are now mostly in the Tate, and in that bequest there are all his color charts which we studied. And ultimately we decided to shoot digitally, on the Alexa, which is a fantastic tool. So the job for Dick was to inform the film with the look and feel of Turner, including specific images that reference particular paintings, or evoke his imagery. I've been blessed with great cinematographers for a long time now. Basically I like to work with people with whom I have a close personal relationship, people who talk the same language, share the same jokes and enjoy spending time together, and that's Dick. He's very smart, very inventive, and we have a great rapport." Where did you do the post? How long was the process? "About four months. We did it all in Lon- don at LipSync Post." Do you like the post process? "I love it. I loathe the whole preparation of the project, and love shooting and post, and all the editing. And what's now so exciting in post is digital grading, which we also did at LipSync." You've worked with editor Jon Gregory on many of your films. How does that relationship work? "He's a great editor, and as always, the film really gets made in the cutting room. In the first place, the film's structure takes its lead from the chronology of events in Turner's life. But once we began cutting, we made certain decisions and reorganized some of the chronology for better dramatic effect. And Jon makes great suggestions and you collaborate, and he pulls out the film and makes it better. He wasn't on the set, and like most editors, doesn't like visiting sets, because they only want to react to the footage. If you're on-set and see the hassle that goes on to achieve a shot, it influences you in the cutting room. You'll go, 'I don't really want to lose that shot,' but the editor will just say, 'Not interest- ed in that.' And that's why editors are so important. And they're always right. For me, a great editor is someone who could cut my film perfectly even if I'd been knocked down by a bus, and Jon is exactly that. He starts assembling while we shoot, and he really understands the material and what I want. So he does his cut and then we discuss it. We cut on Avid and I love that, too." But you used to hate digital and all electronic editing systems. What changed your mind? "Well, the truth is, I used to talk at length to people about the dangers of digital editing and so on, and everything l said was rubbish! I was wrong, because it's actually a wonderful invention. And the same's true of what you can do with digital cameras now. The look we got on this with the Alexa is just extraordinary. So I'm a huge fan now. I'm no Luddite!" Who did the visual effects and how many visual effects shots are there? "LipSync did them all and we had quite a lot, including one massive one for his most famous painting 'The Fighting Temeraire.' It's a complete concoction. We shot Turner and the guys in the boat, and then the sunset, and then the CGI guys added the rest, including the old battleship being towed to its final resting place. And there are a lot of VFX shots enhancing stuff subtly and getting the right looks." Did the film turn out the way you hoped? "That's impossible to answer, as for me the journey of making a film like this is also a journey of discovering what the film is. You never know exactly how all the contributions of your actors and crew will affect it, but I think it's a better film than the one I had in my head." Post production took place at LipSync. Jon Gregory edited the feature on an Avid. DIRECTOR'S CHAIR

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