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March 2015

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Page 16 of 51 15 POST MARCH 2015 actual cars being dropped out of the plane at 10,000-feet. We used skydivers and helicopters to shoot it, but we also knew it needed a lot of VFX help. So, I worked very closely with my VFX team to create the previs I needed, so all the different departments — from production design to the camera department, VFX, costumes, props and so on — knew what was required to make it all work." Do you like the post process? "I love it and it's so important to my film- making style. I can never give up editing. I'm very hands-on — to the point where it can annoy my editor when I grab the mouse away from them, but I can't help it. It comes from my enthusiasm about the shots and my edit, and they get that. I'd say that my love of all the post process — editing, sound design, music — comes from my career in suspense movies. And getting post right is so crucial to the end result and success of any film." Where did you do the post? "On the Universal lot." The film was edited by Christian Wagner, Leigh Folsom Boyd, Dylan Highsmith and Kirk Morri. Is it true you had all four editors cutting at the same time? "Yes, and again it was because of the schedule. We had an extremely tight post schedule, and I literally needed four editors to get it all cut and ready in time. Dylan and Leigh had worked with Chris- tian on the previous Fast movies, and Kirk had worked with me on the Insidious films and The Conjuring, so I brought him along with me. I ended up loving the other editors, but initially I wanted someone familiar with me, and it was a very seamless process ultimately, even with four different editors." How many VFX shots are there? "There's well over 2,000 shots total, done by over 10 vendors, including Weta, MPC, Digital Domain, Ollin VFX, Gentle Giant and Scanline VFX. Weta's main job was to take care of finishing all the shots with Paul Walker." Who was the VFX supervisor? How did that work? "I had two main guys: Mike Wassel and Kelvin McIlwain. They were amazing in helping me and they really stepped up to the plate, given how many VFX we had and the huge range of them, from these very complex sequences to the simplest wire removal. On top of that, as this isn't a 'fantasy' film, although some of my action scenes are very fantastical, we always want it look like it's happening in the 'real' world, so all the VFX also have to look as real as possible. And trying to make all the car action stuff look real was very important for us and the VFX team." What was the most difficult VFX sequence/shot to do and why? "It's tricky to answer that as there's cer- tain stuff you think will be very difficult to do, and it ends up going very smooth- ly, while there's other stuff that should be really simple which ends up being the most challenging. I'd say that the third act has a lot of tricky VFX shots, and the scenes of the convoy being attacked in the mountains was very complex to do. And then the sequence with the car jumping from building to building was very tough. Those set pieces contain the most difficult VFX shots. And then there's all the stuff Weta had to do to make the film work without Paul." Can you talk about the importance of music and sound to you as a filmmaker? "It's really hard to overstate it, and it's such a huge part of making suspense and thriller movies, which is where I learned everything. What makes those kinds of movies so effective is the ed- iting and all the sound design and the way you use music. I actually believe that doing a sound mix for a scary movie is one of the hardest things to do. It's far harder than sound mixing an action film. I've done them all now, and I can definitely say that. And usually on those scary films you don't have a lot of time and the luxury of going over scenes again and again like you do on a bigger budget film like this one. For this, the rapid-fire editing and music are almost characters in the movie, the way the songs are mixed together, and that's a style that's already established for this, so I'm mindful of that." The DI must have been vital? "We're doing it at Efilm, and I'm doing that and the sound mix, and reviewing VFX shots simultaneously, so the only way it works is because all three depart- ments are close to each other on the lot. I'm a huge DI fan, and the only film I've never done a DI on was my first Saw. The DI's so important for a film like this, where you want this high-end, slick, sexy, commercial look." Did the film turn out the way you had hoped? "Technically it turned out great. I wanted to make a big, fun, entertaining mov- ie, and I feel we did it. But it also has a heart, and I hope it'd make Paul proud." So will you do another? "I'd definitely be up for it. My next film is Conjuring 2, which will feel like a holiday after all the challenges of making this." Weta was tasked with finishing shots featuring the late Paul Walker. DIRECTOR'S CHAIR

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