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February 2016

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Page 17 of 51 16 POST FEBRUARY 2016 DIRECTOR'S CHAIR hen you're born with the awe- some name of Roar Uthaug, it's probably inevitable that one day you'll make a movie that features an enor- mous tsunami that roars down a pic- turesque Norwegian fjord, obliterating everything in its path. That movie is The Wave, Norway's official Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film, directed by Uthaug. A large-scale Hollywood disaster mov- ie shot on a modest budget, The Wave features some spectacular VFX work as it tells a story of an unstable mountain that suddenly collapses, a scenario that some scientists predict will definitely un- fold in the mountainous country at some point in the future. Uthaug's 2006 debut feature Cold Prey was a huge box office hit in Norway, spawning two sequels. He then co-direct- ed the 2009 children's adventure Magic Silver and the 2012 hit medieval action film Escape. In between features, he has directed commercials across the globe, winning numerous awards. Here, in an exclusive interview with Post, the director talks about making the film, dealing with all the effects, and his love of post. So 'Roar' is your real name? "Yes, but it sounds so much cooler in English. In Norway, it's like being called Roger or Brian. It's nothing special. (Laughs)" How did years of making commercials help prepare you for directing this huge disaster movie? "I've done them for 13 years now and I love them, especially as the process is so fast and you see the results very quickly, unlike with movies where you might spend a couple of years on one project. And it really teaches you how to handle a set and crew, and gives you a lot of experience. And they also teach you how to be most effective in how you tell a story. When you have just :30 or :60, you have to learn to be smart about what shots to get and how to use them to move the story forward and make it coherent. It's a great education, and I will keep making them through my LA company, Great Guns." What sort of film did you set out to make? "Definitely a disaster movie, but a more grounded, personal one than you'd expect from the genre. It was important to develop all the characters, so when disaster hits it'll have a much bigger impact. I did a lot of research and a tragedy like this will happen — they just don't know when. It's really a cautionary tale, as there are hundreds of unstable mountains in Norway." The film is full of tricky water scenes. You obviously didn't get the Jim Cameron memo — "Never shoot at sea or in water if you can possibly avoid it." "(Laughs) It's true! The water stuff was very difficult to do. We shot all the water exteriors and fjord stuff on the west coast of Norway, and then all the flooded basement scenes in the hotel were done in a huge tank in Bucharest, where we moved the production after the location shooting. And we used stages there for the interiors." What were the main technical challenges of pulling all this together? "The really big technical challenge was that we wanted this 150-foot wave to hit the village at night, and we had 60 cars and a hundred extras in one of the big set pieces, all piled up on this winding road as they try to escape. So we had to shoot at night so you can see the car headlights, but also it had to be light enough so you can see this huge wave coming, which was added in post with CGI. And we only had a three-hour window to get the shots — and that was on our first three days of production. We shot with Red Dragons, and our B-camera operator was on a special Segway with no handles, filming from that." How early did you have to integrate post into the shoot? "Right from the start. We began with some previs done by Gimpville, the VFX company based in Oslo, who also did all the CGI work on the wave, and they did a really great job. And the way we wanted to shoot the film was sort of improvised, and we wanted it to be very realistic, with a sort of hand-held documentary look, so we combined that approach with previs and careful planning." How tough was the actual shoot? "It was quite hard as we had a very tight schedule of just 37 days, which isn't very long for a disaster movie like this. So we shot for 15 days, on-location, and then the rest was in Bucharest. So we had to be very organized, but I like to shoot fast." Do you like the post process? "I really love it. I love editing especially, and then putting together all the music and sound, and seeing it all come togeth- ROAR UTHAUG: THE WAVE W FROM COMMERCIALS TO ONE OF NORWAY'S BIGGEST DISASTER FILMS Director Uthaug (inset) spent most of his VFX budget on the film's tsunami sequence. BY IAIN BLAIR

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