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March 2016

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DIRECTOR'S CHAIR 22 POST MARCH 2016 anadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallee made his feature debut with Liste Noire in 1995, and the stylish erotic thriller was honored with nine Genie Award nominations, including nods for his direction and editing. After several acclaimed shorts, he wrote, pro- duced and directed the internationally acclaimed 2005 hit C.R.A.Z.Y. The picture became a phenomenon, distributed in over 50 countries and winning some 20 international festival awards, including Best Canadian Film prize at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival and 11 Genie Awards. He followed that success with the 2010 period film, The Young Victoria, produced by Graham King and Martin Scorsese, which won an Oscar for Best Costumes and received two Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Makeup. His 2013 film, Dallas Buyers Club, won three Academy Awards and was nominated for six, including one for editing for Vallee and Martin Pensa. And 2014's Wild received Oscar nomina- tions for stars Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern. His new film's title, Demolition, may sound like an action movie, but it's a drama about a successful Wall Street banker, Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal), who has spent most of his life as soci- ety's definition of perfection, comfort- ably removed from any of its difficulties. When his wife Julia suddenly dies in a tragic car crash, his perfect life begins to unravel, and it's only with the help of a new friend (played by Naomi Watts) and her son that he realizes he must demolish the life he once knew in order to rebuild and uncover the truth he needs to feel truly alive and whole again. Here, in an exclusive interview with Post, Vallee talks about making the film, its challenges and his love of post. How do you go about deciding what your next project will be and what made you choose this? "I'm always drawn to stories and char- acters that have a humanity, that move me, and that's what happened with this script. It hit me at the right place and made me think about how precious and beautiful life is, and it really grabbed me. It was so well-written and unpredictable, and very moving." What sort of film did you set out to make? "When I start a film, I try not to think about the whole thing, but instead focus on the characters and the emotions. I never want to let style become more im- portant than the story and the characters, so I shoot that way. I realize, of course, that that way of working becomes its own style in a way, but I think it's a more honest approach. I put the camera in one place and just try to capture what's going on in front of the camera. I don't story- board and make all these shot lists. I just work with the actors to try and capture honest emotions and feelings. And I want- ed to make a film that will provoke and shock and make people laugh and cry and really touch them." What were the biggest challenges of making this? "The biggest one was shooting on lo- cation in New York. It's so hard because it's so crowded, there's so much traffic, people and so on, but the city is such a character in the story that we couldn't do it anywhere else, as Davis is this Wall Street guy. And all that helped in some ways, like with the dance scene in the streets, where Davis just lets go. So we let Jake dance through the streets and followed him with a camera, and all the commuters just ignored him, like it was a normal thing to see. It was also a low bud- get movie with a script of 105 pages, and we shot the whole thing in just 34 days, including location work on Long Island in the suburbs. So, often we'd be trying to shoot three to four pages in just 40 min- utes, and we had to work very fast." You shot with Yves Belanger again, who shot your last two films Wild and Dallas Buyers Club. Talk about the look you went for, using handheld with available light. "It's the same approach we took on the last two films. I always feel that there are just too many people on a film set, and a lot of them are standing around waiting for the lighting set ups and so on, and then the camera set ups, and it goes on and on. I just think it could all be done far quicker and simpler, and Yves and I feel the same way. But it takes guts and courage to actually go ahead and do it this way, and not go with the traditional blocking and lighting. So Yves reflects light so I can shoot anywhere and we can really use the whole space we're working in, and it was the perfect approach for this film and its story and characters. Obviously it's not right for a film like The Young Victoria, but now I never want to go back to using big studio lights where it takes you 30 minutes to light one angle. We shot this on Alexas and JEAN-MARC VALLEE: DEMOLITION C MOVING AUDIENCES WITH UNPREDICT- ABLE STORIES & CHARACTERS BY IAIN BLAIR Vallee shot Demolition in New York City and on Long Island.

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