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March 2016

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DIRECTOR'S CHAIR 23 POST MARCH 2016 it's so sensitive we were able to turn off lights, and then you give the actors the freedom to work without worrying about hitting their marks. They can just focus on their characters and emotions." Where did you do the post? How long was the process? "I always do my post at the same place, Fake Studio in Montreal, which was founded by Marc Cote. He's the owner and we have a very special relationship after all these years. I get so creative there, as they're not afraid to try any- thing, and financially they really under- stand the game and the way I work. I honestly don't think I could do post at another company because of our cre- ative partnership. And I don't like to rush post. We spent over six months on this." Do you like the post process? "It's my favorite part of making a film. It's said so often, but it's true — it's the final stage of writing when you pull all the elements together and see it come alive with the sound and music. There's none of the pressure of the shoot. It's just you and the raw materials in a dark room. I love it so much." The film was allegedly cut by editor Jay Glen. Why did you use a pseudonym? (Laughs) "Well, I cut my last two films as 'John Mac McMurphy' and it was time for a change. It's like the Coens and their pseudonyms. I just hate seeing my name up everywhere." Where did you edit and what were the challenges on this? "Fake has a suite of editing rooms, so I did it there. It took me about 21 weeks, as I'm very slow and meticulous. I'm always asking my producers for more time to edit as I'm so picky. We have a soft lock after five months or so, but it's never really locked till the final mix. The more films I make, the less I cut, and the more I like shots to just breathe while the actors just do their thing without cutting their performances. But on this I ended up doing the opposite, at least in the first 20 minutes, as that usual approach and style of editing gave the audience too much time to think and judge Davis and the other characters. I had to grab their atten- tion and create a different rhythm from the get-go, so I ended up cutting the first part just like an action film, with all these shots and all this information coming at you, so you have no real clue where the story is going." Marc Cote, who's worked on many of your films, has done VFX for such films as The Aviator, 300 and Dawn of the Dead. How many VFX shots are there, and what was involved? "We ended up with about 250 VFX shots and Marc, who's worked on all my films going back to C.R.A.Z.Y. and Café de Flore, oversaw all the visual effects on this and made sure that they're all seamless and invisible. We added buildings and a plane, and there was clean up stuff, but we never use VFX to show off. They're always there to serve the story. One of the big challenges was creating the carousel scene on the boardwalk. We actually shot a real carousel in Brooklyn with the actors but no greenscreen, and then shot plates of New York and did a lot of rotoscoping, so when you see the carousel at the beach, with the New York skyline in the background, it's all visual effects. It's magical, but it took forever to make it perfect, and the guys at Fake are as meticulous as me, and worked 24-hours-a-day to get it just right." Were all the ghost scenes of Davis' wife done in post? "Yes, most of them. It was important to set the right tone, and we shot a bit of that on the set, but then once I started cutting and doing post, I added more moments with her and used a lot of jump cuts. There's the shower scene, when he wipes the mirror and there she is, and I actually took that shot of Julia from another scene and inserted it into that shot. A lot of my ideas come in post, and there's a scene where kids are laughing and I just took that from another scene and added that in post." You famously gave up your directing fee on C.R.A.Z.Y. just so you could get songs by The Rolling Stones and Bowie for the soundtrack. Safe to say that sound and music are vital to you? "Completely. Music's my thing, and I love using tracks like Heart's 'Crazy on You' and 'Free' by Mr. Big in this to accompany Davis on his emotional journey. I play around mostly with the music in the edit and I get all these ideas for playlists. Music makes me dream and laugh and it's such a power- ful tool in movies." What's next? "I'm in the middle of shooting this seven-hour TV series, Big Little Lies, with Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, for HBO. I've done five weeks and I've got 13 to go, and I'm having a blast. Yves is shooting it with me and it's just like doing a feature. The quality is really high." On-set with Demolition star Jake Gyllenhaal. Vallee cut the film at Fake Studio in Montreal.

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