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December 2015

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OSCAR BUZZ 14 POST DECEMBER 2015 aramount Pictures' The Big Short recently opened in theaters and features a number of strong performances that very well may attract Oscar consider- ation. Directed by Adam McKay and pro- duced by Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment, The Big Short is based on the true story and best-selling book by Michael Lewis. It tells the story of four Wall Street outsiders who saw what the big banks, media and government refused to: the global collapse of the economy. Christian Bale plays analyst Dr. Michael Burry. Steve Carell portrays hedge fund manager Mark Baum, and Ryan Gosling plays banker Jared Vennett. Brad Pitt also appears, portraying bank- er-turned-environmentalist Ben Rickert. Collectively, they are betting against his- tory, big banks and the global economy in what could result in an epic windfall. Post caught up with director Adam McKay shortly before the film's release. Here, he talks about bringing the film's storylines together, its invisible visual ef- fects and how Louisiana was able to dou- ble for so many of the needed locations. What kind of film were you looking to make? "The whole thinking behind it was that there have been a lot of Wall Street movies about finance, and in general, they present the world of finance as austere, cold and impressive. We wanted to do the exact opposite. I came into it wanting to do this neo-documentary, verite style. I had [DP] Barry Ackroyd in mind right from the beginning. I am such a fan of United 93. No one brings a scene more to life than Barry. I wanted to go inside these scenes and never rely on impressive buildings. The whole movie is driven by characters and these guys are not part of the monolithic Wall Street structure. These are the guys outside of it. They are sloppy. They don't dress well. Gosling's character is part of the system, but the rest aren't. When this happened in 2004 to 2006, their haircuts look three to four years out of date. Their clothes aren't sharp. Their offices are nice but messy and weird. So it was counter to these cold, austere, impressive Wall Street movies, and with a documentary style." Tell us about the shoot? "We shot in New Orleans as our base, but then we also travelled up to New York. We did five days in New York and three days in Vegas as well. New Orleans turned out to be kind of perfect. Obviously, we didn't have a giant budget. We got a little bit of a tax break, but they also had a really good casino. And on the gulf coast, they had a housing development with palm trees, which was perfect for Florida. And then they have a downtown with some high-rises for out- the-window [shots], so you could sell a little bit of New York there. And we were able to do a little Northern California for Dr. Burry, Christian Bale's character…By the end of it, I was pretty damn happy. It didn't feel like I compromised at all." There are lots of office shots with big windows and skyscraper backgrounds. What was real and what was shot on a stage? "We shot one day on a stage — Carell in the back of the cab, yelling because the price of the bonds hadn't moved." You shot Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas? "We went with a skeleton crew, with Barry Ackroyd, and got shots to fill it out — shot their pool. I have a really good production designer — Clayton Hartley — so the pool scene was actually shot in New Orleans. Clayton did a great job of matching it." There are a number of sidebars with celebrities who explain the complexities of Wall Street. "Selena Gomez, she was in that casino, and that was in Harrah's in the middle of New Orleans. The [Margot Robbie bathtub scene] we shot back in Malibu. It looks fake. It looks so good but that is completely practical and real." What format did you shoot on? "I wanted film. I was pretty firm about that. All my movies have been on film, except Anchorman 2, and I didn't love the digital [experience]. I didn't have the best time with it. The cameras are getting bet- ter, and the new Alexas are amazing, but I still think film looks better. God bless our line producer Louise Rosner. She's a be- liever in film as well, and she showed how it doesn't cost more money to use film. I wanted to do 2.35:1 film, and fortunately Barry Ackroyd preferred film as well, so he was very excited." How were you viewing dailies? Can you talk about the workflow? "We did the Pix system because we were moving so fast and it was a by-the-seat- of-your-pants production. We didn't really have time to go to a dailies facility after work. We used Pix, but occasion- ally Barry would go to a facility in New Orleans once a week to see some of the stuff projected, to make sure it was OK. One of the advantages of having a DP as great as Barry Ackroyd was that his eye is even more critical than mine." Were you happy with the Pix system? "Visually, it's 88 percent. It's the equiva- PARAMOUNT PICTURES' THE BIG SHORT BY MARC LOFTUS DIRECTOR ADAM MCKAY TAKES ON WALL STREET, BANK BAILOUTS & THE HOUSING BUST P Director McKay (inset) took advantage of tax incentives and Louisiana's diverse locations.

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