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August 2017

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Page 19 of 43 18 POST AUGUST 2017 DIRECTOR'S CHAIR n War For The Planet Of The Apes, the third and climactic chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbust- er trilogy, director Matt Reeves and an all- star cast unleash the rapidly evolving simi- ans into a world boiling over with divisions and rage as the ape vs. human battle for control of the world careens towards the ultimate winner-takes-all decision. As peace between species has col- lapsed — and a renegade band of human soldiers led by an imperious Colonel (Woody Harrelson) makes a final, all-out attack — Caesar (Andy Serkis) is hit with an unimaginable personal loss and a dark line inside his psyche is crossed. Now, he is wrestling with merciless impulses and roiling doubts about his own ability to inspire the apes towards freedom. But if the apes are to survive the coming conflict, Caesar must lead. In a time when empathy and compassion have nearly vanished both in the world and his heart, Caesar searches for the grit, sense of fellowship and striving vision to lead the apes towards a future of hope. Behind the camera, Reeves also assembled a team of collaborators that once again included cinematographer Michael Seresin, who shot in 65mm, and editors William Hoy (Fantastic 4, 300) and Stan Salfas (Let Me In), as well as Weta Digital's senior visual effects su- pervisor and four-time Oscar winner Joe Letteri (The Lord of the Rings, Avatar), VFX supervisor Dan Lemmon and VFX producer Ryan Stafford, who all oversaw the complex VFX and a team of hun- dreds of artists and technicians. Here, in an exclusive interview with Post, Reeves, who helmed Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the science-fiction/ horror hit Cloverfield, talks about making the film, his love of post and the latest advances in VFX. This was a very ambitious project, and even darker than the last one. What sort of film did you set out to make? "I wanted to take it more deeply into Caesar, and cement his place in the sto- ry which puts him through his greatest test so far. So when it starts, it's already quite bleak, as there is no more peace with humans, and that pushes him into a deeply emotional, universal kind of con- flict. I felt it was this almost biblical trial he goes through, like Moses. So I wanted it to have this mythic quality, and then Caesar is such a character of empathy, and he's always been unique because he is part ape, part human, but not really either, so there's that tragic sense about him, too. There was this hope that he might be able to bridge the two worlds, the two societies, but now we see that this isn't going to happen. And we also wanted to push him to a very dark place so we could explore all his internal dilemmas and his interior psyche — and all the aspects of what we also struggle with and what makes us human, the constant battle between our intelligence, our empathy and our instincts, and how that all defines our humanity. So yes, this is a very dark journey, but it ends on a somewhat brighter note." What were the main technical challenges of pulling all this together and how tough was the shoot, considering it was all shot on location, like the last one, in British Columbia? "It was very tough for everyone, especial- ly the actors. I could walk around looking like the Michelin Man, with big down jack- ets to keep warm, but the actors had to wear these very form-fitting mo-cap suits and wet suits and brave the elements. The plan was to create a grand wartime epic, with amazing visuals, and really the only way to do that convincingly is to shoot it on-location in the real rain and snow, and [DP] Michael got some truly amazing imagery. You just can't fake real locations and real bad weather!" Did you do a lot of previs? "Most of these kinds of films are driven by previs because they're so complex, and the studios like to see what's going to happen. But, we did far less previs than you'd expect, and it was also far less than we did on the last one." Why was that? "Because on the last one, a lot of it was worthless and we spent a lot of money on it. The way in which previs can be really useful — and this is how we used it on this film — is when you have a sequence where you're able to visualize in a really extensive and evolved way what you're actually going to shoot. Otherwise, it's just another artist's interpretation of what you might shoot — and that's just a waste of time. Unless you could get an artist inside my head to see what I'm visualizing, it's just not that helpful. I ended up throwing away 90 percent of all the previs work we did on the last one. Why would you even do previs on a scene that's all about performance? Previs can be a great tool, MATT REEVES: WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES BY IAIN BLAIR I ON THE DARK JOURNEY OF THE CLIMACTIC CHAPTER Reeves (white shirt, left), took the production for the newest Apes film on-location to British Columbia, Canada.

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