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July 2017

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Page 9 of 43 8 POST JULY 2017 DIRECTOR'S CHAIR pider-Man's back, and a young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who made his debut in Captain America: Civil War, now enters the Marvel Cinematic Universe in earnest in Sony's Spider-Man: Homecoming. Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Parker returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Parker tries to fall back into his normal daily routine, but when the Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges as a new villain, everything that Parker holds most important will be threatened. The moment has come for him to rise and become the hero he is meant to be. Helming this eagerly-awaited fran- chise reboot is director and co-writer Jon Watts, the indie director who only had two low-budget film credits to his name (including the acclaimed thriller Cop Car) when he was chosen by Sony and Marvel to revitalize the superhero franchise. The production also features a stellar crew including DP Salvatore Totino, production designer Oliver Scholl, editors Dan Lebental and Debbie Berman and visual effects supervisor Janek Sirrs. Here, in an exclusive interview with Post, Watts, who was still deep in post at press time, talks about making the movie, his love of post and how a relative unknown scored the plum assignment. How did you land this job and were you shocked to get it? "I was very shocked. I don't really know how I got it, though I worked very hard to try and get it. Initially I went in to meet Marvel for just a general conver- sation, as it wasn't public knowledge that they were planning to do the film, and they pitched me on the idea of Peter being in high school, a sort of coming-of-age story, and it just so happened that I'd been working on my own coming-of-age story, so I was very steeped in the genre after watching all these coming-of-age movies. I think because of that, I got more meetings. And I made a mood reel, using clips from other films to show the tone I wanted, and I storyboarded a bunch of sequences, and had more and more meetings and eventually got the job." Were you already a big Spider-Man fan? Was that the appeal of doing it? "I didn't go in because I was this big fan. I just thought it'd be great fun to work with Marvel, as if I were going to make one of these big films, they'd be the people I'd want to do it with. I loved Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films, which came out when I was at film school — and every film that comes out when you're at film school takes on this heightened level compared to before and after, because you're so focused on every aspect of it." What sort of film did you set out to make and did Marvel set any limitations on what you could do? "No limitations, and I wanted most of all to make it very grounded and have fun with it. I think it also helped that I really connected with Peter Parker in a very per- sonal way, because I was also a science nerd in high school, into chemistry and physics and stuff like that. I still remember what it was like to be in high school, when you're not thinking like an adult yet, and I wanted to keep that way of thinking and speaking in the story and film." You come from an indie background, and suddenly you're at the helm of this enormous production. What were the main technical challenges in pulling it all together? "It really helped that I'd done a lot of commercials and worked with VFX and previs and so on. But the biggest adjust- ment was dealing with the physical pace. I've never worked on just one thing for so long, and you need to stay focused all the time without getting burned out. That was hard." Did you do a lot of previs? "A lot! Like VFX and the rest, it's stuff I was dying to do, but just never had enough money for. I've actually always previs'ed my movies myself, because I just can't draw well enough to do my own storyboards. So I've always used off-the- shelf programs to do my previs. And now having this whole team of people to do it was just so much fun. I loved it. And I began the previs before we even had a script, just exploring ideas and concepts, and trying out different things, which was a great way to begin the whole process." Post is no longer something at the end of the shoot. How early on did you start integrating post and all the VFX? "Right away, because you're exactly right — there's no real start or stop to post anymore. The whole process is now more like doing an animated film, with a live-action component. So I wanted to previs as much as possible of the whole film, and if things changed, then I'd shift stuff around. That's how I've always done things. So in that sense, this wasn't that big a conceptual jump for me. It's just on a whole other scale, but then you have a lot more people working with you." JON WATTS ON SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING BY IAIN BLAIR S HOW A RELATIVE UNKNOWN SCORED A PLUM ASSIGNMENT Director Watts (left), on-set Holland, Keaton and Watts (L to R)

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