Post Magazine

October 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 11 of 51

director's chair Ron Howard's Formula 1 Rush H By Iain Blair Recreating the tension of '70s Formula 1. Rush is based on the reallife competition for the 1976 Formula 1 championship 10 OLLYWOOD — Since making his directorial debut in 1977 with Grand Theft Auto, director/producer and former child star Ron Howard has established himself as one of Hollywood's most successful and versatile directors. He's made films about boxers (Cinderella Man), astronauts (Apollo 13), mermaids (Splash), symbologists (The Da Vinci Code), politicians (Frost/Nixon), firefighters (Backdraft) and mathematicians (A Beautiful Mind, which won him Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture). So maybe it was just a matter of time before he turned his attention to the highoctane, high-stakes, turbo-charged world of Formula 1 racing. His new film, the Universal release Rush, tells the real-life story of the 1976 Formula One season and the dramatic rivalr y between British driver James Hunt (played by Liam Hemsworth) and reigning world champion, Austrian racer Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), which plays out against an international backdrop of glamour, sex and speed. Here, in an exclusive interview with Post, Howard talks about making the film, the challenges involved, and his love of post. POST: Was a film about Formula 1 outside your comfort zone, and was that the appeal? RON HOWARD: "It was definitely outside my comfort zone in some regards and it was brand new territory. I'm not a racing fan, but it was a great story with great characters and all these very exciting race scenes." POST: It has a pretty radical look and this was the first time you worked with DP Anthony Dod Mantle, Danny Boyle's go-to DP, who won the Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire. What made you choose him? HOWARD: "I've been a huge fan for a long time, and as this was a UK/German co-production, I couldn't bring in my usual DP, Salvatore Totino. So when I found he was available for this, I jumped at the chance to work with him. His aesthetic was what I wanted for this. He's very interested in the story, in the psychology, in the emotion, and he's very poetic and has a great eye. But he doesn't let that drive him. It's this other thing — what's most interesting about the moment, and what's possible. So he is a great storyteller, and a guy who really rolls with the environment. That's a key thing. "I expected him to be very creative, and he is, but he also has this ability to look at the sky, the scene, the actors, and understand what Post • October 2013 I'm hoping for from the scene, and then use all those varied elements in a way that's both efficient and effective. And I think that comes from years of having not enough money to work with, and letting that pressure push him into choices that wind up being a little unconventional and more interesting." POST: Did you ever consider shooting film, or was it automatically a digital project? HOWARD: "It was my first all-digital movie. We mainly used the Alexa, and I'm not sure we could have got the look we did on film." POST: What were the main technical challenges of pulling all this together? HOWARD: "We shot all the race scenes in Britain and Germany, and they doubled for all the other tracks as well. We started at the famous Nurburgring course in Germany, but Anthony was still on another film and couldn't be there, but he helped design the whole approach with me and then sent some of his team. "We shot a historic race, with people who copter plates, mostly to just get background plates of the course. But a funny thing happened. All this bonus footage turned out great. Although these weren't stunt drivers, they could stage some over-takes, and it worked!" POST: That must have affected your visual approach and how to best shoot this? HOWARD: "Yes. That completely revised my sense of what we could do in-camera. So it was this process of discovery, and we found that it all shifted from relying a lot on CG cars for all the visceral racing moves to shooting the real thing. Then what happened was that all the people building the replicas realized that their cars would have to sit next to the real cars on the grid and pits, and they stepped up to the plate and built very fast, durable cars. They weren't as fast as the real historics, but they could race with them convincingly, and all our professional precision drivers were able to do far more than I'd expected. Ron Howard on location: Rush was shot using Arri Alexa and Canon C300 cameras. Double Negative handled the majority of the 700 VFX, with Pixomondo also contributing. own the actual period cars. They race them, and although not all the cars were from 1976, they were all visually and technologically similar enough that it worked for us. So we went out with a couple of Alexas and some Canon C300s and other on-board cameras Anthony wanted to experiment with, and we shot the practice and race itself over a weekend. That taught us a hell of a lot, and although it was a test, it was the first time I shot something I felt could actually be in the final movie. "We then took four of the owner-drivers and Double Negative came, and we shot heli- "And all that helped us to be able to broaden the canvas, and to be more ambitious about using archival footage and restoring it and tweaking it and inserting our cars into it and manipulating it so it worked for our narrative. And we could expand the scale of the tracks, and add signage with set extensions on top of what we could shoot incamera. So the movie got bigger and bigger, the more we could do in-camera." POST: Shooting races and their drivers must be tricky in terms of following characters, when everyone's inside a helmet?

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Post Magazine - October 2013