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December 2011

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director's chair Bill Condon — Twilight: Breaking Dawn H By IAIN BLAIR This veteran director shoots 35mm, does a DI and takes on vampires. OLLYWOOD — Director/writer Bill Condon has handled some big pro- ductions, including the Oscar-win- ning Dreamgirls, Chicago and Kinsey, but the ex-philosophy major — who won an Oscar for his 1998 debut Gods and Monsters — readily admits that he's never overseen such a mammoth project as the final two parts of the mega-franchise The Twilight Saga, which he shot simultaneously. The first, Breaking Dawn — Part 1, once again stars Robert Pat- tinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner in the modern-day vampire love story, and fol- lows the three main characters as they struggle to deal with oncoming adulthood, marriage and pregnancy. Here, in an exclusive Post interview, Con- don talks about making the film, his love of post, and how to get the perfect vampire look on film. POST: Is it true you were asked to direct the first two films? BILL CONDON: "Not exactly. I was approached about them, and this time the timing was right. The movie I'd been working wasn't coming together, and when I read the script I thought, all the other films have set it up and now this is where it all happens, so I was excited by the wackiness of the story and all the visual possibilities." POST: All the melodrama definitely seems up your alley and something you could — pun intended — sink your teeth into? CONDON: (Laughs) "Totally, and I loved doing all the flashbacks to classic Hollywood films like The Bride of Frankenstein." POST: Given that you're joining this huge franchise, what sort of film did you set out to make? CONDON: "A full-blown, emotional romance in the first half of the film that turns dark and then becomes a horror movie. That was the big appeal for me on this one. The second is a whole different thing." The film was edited by Virginia Katz on an Avid system. POST: Was shooting both parts simultane- ously a nightmare? CONDON: "It was very tiring and so logis- tically complex — we shot in Brazil, Louisiana and Canada — but not that complicated in terms of shooting the story since it's all one story based on one book, and the second half picks up exactly where this one ends. So it 14 Post • December 2011 wasn't disorienting, like The Matrix. I couldn't make sense of that, and doing those two back-to-back? That would be hard." POST: Your longtime editor Virginia Katz cut this for you. Tell us about the editing process. CONDON: "We cut on Avid, and I love editing. She doesn't like to come on-set much, but she's on-location and always working, and we have this Friday night treat, which I always look forward to — we have a glass of wine and watch whatever she's put together during the week on DVD. And she's so fast and keeps up and take every line, and run down the com- puter list and you can figure out every take, every angle on just one line. We did some- thing like that on Dreamgirls for the musical numbers, but it was so unwieldy. Now it's so easy. So every time I do post, I'm amazed at the progress." POST: Where did you do the post? CONDON: "All at The Lot, the old Warner studio. We spent just five months on post, which is quick for a big film with a ton of effects. We did feel the crunch, but we had to Bill Condon (on set) says post production is his "favorite part of any film. I love being able to move scenes around and being able to retell the whole story again — it's a cliché but it's so true." to camera. Then we'd usually have a session each weekend and discuss it all, so we were constantly massaging it as we went. Then in post it's the same as always — we go back to the start and look at every bit of film and make sure we both feel we've got the best version of the film." POST: Do you like the post process? CONDON: "I absolutely love it — it's my favorite part of any film. I love being able to move scenes around and being able to retell the whole story again — it's a cliché but it's so true. I'm so musically oriented in terms of movies, and I can't even tell what the film's about until the rhythm starts to work. I do commercials in between films, and in the five years since my last movie it seems so much has changed. Now you can take the script hit the release date. In theory, the effects shots were meant to be in by early Septem- ber, but that was impossible as we had so many. Luckily we have a longer post schedule on the next one." POST: John Bruno, who won the Oscar for The Abyss and whose credits include Avatar and Batman Returns, designed and super- vised the visual effects. What did he bring to the mix? CONDON: "His patience as a teacher (laughs). He's been there from the start of so much modern effects work and everyone's either worked with him or been a student, so you feel like you're in such good hands. And because he directs himself, he comes up with great solutions. For instance, he added a pro- jector beam of smoke into The Bride of Fran-

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