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May 2015

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Page 17 of 51 16 POST MAY 2015 fter laboring for over a decade in the TV trenches, where the Emmy-nominated Paul Feig created the cult hit Freaks and Geeks and directed everything from The Office to Arrested Development and 30 Rock, the director/ writer (and sometime actor) joined the major leagues in 2011 with the breakout hit Bridesmaids, which grossed (pun intended) over $288 million. "People think it's my first movie — it's not, but the other two did so poorly I wish it was my first," he notes dryly. Feig followed that smash with yet another hit, The Heat, starring Melissa McCarthy (also in Bridesmaids) and Sandra Bullock, and reunites once again with McCarthy for Spy, an action comedy James Bond homage that he also wrote and co-produced. The actress plays a deskbound CIA agent who ends up being assigned a dangerous undercover mission in Europe after her hunky field agent partner (played by Jude Law) goes missing. Here, in an exclusive interview with Post, Feig talks about the challenges of making comedy, his love of post and vi- sual effects, and taking on Ghostbusters. Successful comedies are tricky to pull off. How did you approach this project? "The reason most comedies don't work is that they don't keep a consistent tone. Usually people will abandon and jetti- son tone for the joke, and this film was particularly hard to do as we were always on a razor's edge regarding the tone. If it's a spy spoof and the villains are silly, then you're not invested in it — and you can do that, but it has to be like Austin Powers, which has a very consistent tone — it's silly the whole way through and works brilliantly. But I wanted to do a comedy that had real danger, and then you have to be realistic and let the com- edy flow from that. Same with the score, and I told the composer 'Do not treat it like a comedy at all.' And then it's funnier, as you're treating it all very seriously." Where did you shoot? "It was all done in Budapest, Hungary, partly because of tax breaks, but I also wanted these glamorous European loca- tions, as I'd originally written it as taking place in Paris, Venice and Capri. And once we started scouting, we realized that Budapest could double for a lot of places, so I just rewrote the script so that most of it happened in Budapest. I did the same thing with The Heat, where Boston originally doubled for New York, and then I thought, 'Why not just set it all in Boston instead?'" What were the technical challenges? "Shooting any big action movie has its own challenges, but we were really on top of it. I had a great stunt coordinator who'd previs'd nearly all the fight scenes and a lot of the chase stuff with his stunt guys, and then he gave me a video- taped version of it already cut together, so I could go, 'Let's try this, let's add something here,' so by the time we hit the set we were pretty lean and mean. Regarding the car chase, I'm not a big storyboarder as they limit you some- times. And with comedy, we improvise a lot and add new lines all the time, and when I get to the editing room and we're cutting comedy, we're not going to stick to the order of some storyboard. We had a great 2 nd unit director who shot all the car-chase scenes, and it's more about getting the cool angles and the most dy- namic shots and not me having to police it and go, 'Where's the joke?' I don't just want random fighting and mayhem. For me, it needs to be in the service of the story and characters, but also have some funny pay-off along the way. And being in Budapest made that easier, as we had more access to things and these fantas- tic local crews." Your DP was Robert D. Yeoman — Oscar nominee for The Grand Budapest Hotel. How tough was the shoot? "Not bad. All the scheduling and all the logistics were the tough part, and getting the actors in and out on time. It was a 55-day shoot and the great thing in Europe is that we could work French hours. That's the greatest thing ever and it's ludicrous that we don't have it here. It'd save so much money, and safety and so on, because everyone's hyper-focused for 10 hours, and then they get to have a normal rest of the day. So that makes it far more pleasant dealing with all the stress of the action stuff, and we stayed right on schedule. The big challenge for me is, no matter what I'm shooting, I want to have room for extra jokes and improvising, so that when you edit and start test screen- ings, if something doesn't work, you have back up." Where did you do the post? How long was the process? "We started off at Catalyst Post in Bur- bank, where we did The Heat. I love it as it's this very modern building and every edit suite has windows — it's very import- ant for me that post isn't this usual dun- BY IAIN BLAIR A THE CHALLENGES OF COMEDY AND KEEPING A CONSISTENT TONE PAUL FEIG: SPY DIRECTOR'S CHAIR Director Paul Feig advises not falling in love with any one cut.

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