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FAST & FURIOUS 6

It's Your Move: Stunts of the Film
With Fast & Furious 6, the filmmakers opted to broaden the action base by bringing in more physical fight sequences to balance out the remarkable set pieces already in place. One of the keys to Lin's proven method of success is to utilize as much practical stunt work as possible, so this tactic dovetailed perfectly.

This approach, however, puts an enormous amount of pressure on the stunts and special effects department to conceive and execute high-impact, innovative driving, pyrotechnic and fighting sequences, but they continue to deliver. "Go big or go home," became Lin's comical reply during the early stages of preproduction as the se- quences were fleshed out during departmental meetings.

Supervising stunt coordinator GREG POWELL, a London-based stunt veteran, hails from one of the country's premier stunt dynasties started by his father (Nosher) and uncle (Dinny) and continuing with himself, his brother (Gary) and his daughter (Tilly). Powell was brought in to visualize the ambitious undertaking that Morgan and Lin had devised.

From the get-go, Powell knew that he would spearhead a multifaceted action film that would need to satisfy the "push all limits" credo of the franchise -- fast, hard-hitting driving action mixed with inventive physical maneuvers and attention-grabbing set pieces. To accomplish, the stunt coordinator brought in fight choreographer OLIVIER SCHNEIDER and his team with the express goal of surpassing the epic Hobbs- Dom clash in Fast Five. However, in this chapter, the fight team would need to choreograph an astounding 16 matchups, with almost every cast member getting a piece of the action. Powell and Schneider had previously teamed up for the action-thriller Safe House and developed a collaborative style that allowed them a smooth process when designing the multifaceted stunt work.

The French-born Schneider learned quickly that he and Lin were kindred spirits in moving the story along. When the pair first met, they agreed that the tone of each fight should be precise with a purpose for every move. Reflects Lin: "The Dom-Hobbs fight in Fast Five is something that we'll never duplicate. I felt this time we could actually top ourselves by having the other characters have their moments. Through that, you see a lot of different fighting styles, all designed very specifically."

Since the cast were all quite fit and prepared to train hard to pull off anything the team proposed, Schneider was able to up the skill level and work more on the cast's choreography. Johnson, coming off of Pain & Gain, had arrived in London with an extra 10 lb. of muscle packed onto his already brawny 260 lb., 6'2" frame. He would continue his grueling early morning workouts on a daily basis. Millions of his loyal Twitter followers were privy to it all -- from gallons of oatmeal and protein binges to his legendary 3:00 a.m. workout routine before heading off to an early morning arrival on the film set.

Diesel, Rodriguez, Bridges and Gibson all had begun their own personal fitness programs months before filming and continued though production, while MMA warrior Carano maintained her usual regimen and concentrated on the choreography. Evans, welcoming the physical challenge, embarked on SAS-style training so he could fully represent the consummate warrior of his Shaw. The practice sessions were often punishing, but the outcome was worth it.

Prior to conceptualizing any fights, Schneider scouted the shooting locations and spoke with the art department and set decorators to get specs on the film sets. This allowed him to incorporate those practical elements into the action. A railing in an underground tube station could enhance an acrobatic kick, or an exposed cargo strap on the Antonov set could leverage a hit to an opponent -- anything environmental would play a part to heighten the action. Prior to filming, he made sure to bring the actors to the actual locations so they too were familiar with their surroundings. As rehearsals continued with the cast, the fights were further fine-tuned.

Key to Schneider's approach was to have a definitive style for each character. Truly, with so many battles, different moves were utilized for particular fights and never duplicated. Johnson, Carano and Indonesian martial arts star Joe Taslim are all skilled athletes, and audiences have high expectations of what these performers can do. Therefore, Schneider wanted to mix it up a bit and inject more character into their fight styles.

Johnson has clocked in his fair share of fights and stunt work in the WWE and films like Fast Five and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Of his experience with the stunt crew, he commends: "Olivier and his team are focused. I always appreciate it when fight choreographers do their homework and get to know my style. I love working outside of the box and learning new fighting techniques and styles, but at the same time it will always come back to the essence of how I fight." He deadpans: "I'll rip your head off. Olivier made sure that core element that drives my style is always there, but at the same time was smart enough and challenged enough to add a few more things in it for me."

For their parts, Hobbs, Riley and Shaw are more disciplined in the schools of military law enforcement. Therefore, Schneider in corporated Krav Maga, Wing Chun kung fu and Kali Eskrima techniques into the fight scenes. On the flip side, Dom, Brian, Letty, Roman and Han are street fighters through and through; they rely on instincts much more than formal training.

When it came to conceptualizing the sequences, the soft-spoken Carano, known for her powerful right punch and insane roundhouse kick, was eager to add to her fighting repertoire. She offers: "I had done different types of fight training before Fast & Furious 6. Olivier was familiar with my background and what I'd done on Haywire, so he wanted to give a different look in this film. Riley is a formally trained soldier, which was a nice change of pace. She goes into any given situation in a position of power, instead of being on the receiving end."

Schneider was in awe of Taslim's skill set, even after seeing his gravity-defying performance in The Raid: Redemption. "If you have seen The Raid, you can fully understand Joe's abilities," says the fight choreographer. "He is one of those guys with the fastest hands I have ever seen. I often videotape fight rehearsals, but I was too slow and couldn't follow him because he's very, very fast. He learns quickly, so you can ask him whatever you want and he will deliver."

The first of the two breathless Letty-Riley bouts in the movie was filmed in one day at Aldwych Station, a now-defunct underground train station in the Westminster section of London. The lack of working elevators left the cast and crew no option but to carry hundreds of pounds of equipment down 100 narrow steps to get to the lower level, where the filming of the down-and-dirty fight would take place. Remarks Moritz: "One of the trademarks of our franchise is to do as much real action as possible and to rely on visual effects as little as possible. The subway fight between Letty and Riley, which is so visceral and in your face, is 100-percent practical fighting. There are no visual effects. It's just really intense."

Recalls Lin of that filming day: "For Gina and Michelle to show up and tell their stunt doubles to take the day off because they're going to try to do everything themselves, is a testament to how hard they work. That makes all of this worth it."

Regardless of what was asked of them, the cast was willing to give anything a try. Eager to top what they accomplished on Fast Five or just happy to deliver practically executed stunts, the gang was open to any proposition. Particularly Rodriguez, who stands out to both Powell and Schneider for her fearlessness. Powell commends: "Michelle is Michelle. She does anything that you want her to do. From wherever it comes, it's all guts there. Michelle doesn't lack any of that."

Initially, Rodriguez was a bit concerned about how the Letty-Riley fight scenes would translate on screen. Although the Girlfight star fully understood that Carano's skill set and level of athleticism was stronger than her own, she still wanted to make certain that the sequences made sense for her character. After weeks of training with Schneider and learning the intricate choreography, she grew more and more confident with how the fights would play out.

Also important to how Rodriguez approached those scenes was being certain about what was driving Letty. Whereas Riley has more of a methodical, paramilitary- trained approach, Letty's a scrapper. She's long fought for her life, and her style taps into the streets she grew up on in L.A. By creating a dynamic in which Letty was all about survival and Riley was all about technique, the audience can feel this primal struggle.

Carano, whose MMA experience enabled her to inflict some real physical damage in the octagon, had to make a concerted effort to redirect her physicality to perform for the camera, while simultaneously being hyperconscious not to injure her co-stars. Once she was more familiar with the choreography, Rodriguez, however, had other plans in store for her co-star and encouraged Carano to go full-out on those takes.

When shooting the fighting action, Lin favors wider shots. This allows him to be very strategic when he cuts to tighter perspectives that give the audience the full impact of the brutal scene. Taking that into account, Schneider worked closely with cinematographer Stephen Windon while designing each fight scene. With up to four cameras filming at any given time, timing, positioning and a 360-degree lighting system were all an integral part of delivering up-close heart-pounding action.

The Underground train station at Waterloo set the stage for another standout fight sequence. Taslim squares off against Gibson and Kang in a scene that begins with a foot chase, which had all three actors sprinting through and around 200 background actors. It culminates with a martial-arts bonanza that showcases Taslim's amazing abilities. Naturally, Gibson, Kang and Taslim had rehearsed the scene, but filming before the cameras, crew and background actors added another layer of energy to the day's work. Although stunt doubles were on hand throughout rehearsals and on the shoot days, both Gibson and Kang opted to do their own fight work against Taslim.

Lin explains their choices: "It's energy like that that carries us through a shoot of this length and of this magnitude. Joe is unbelievable. He was going 110 percent all the time, and you see that intensity on screen. You see it because I was able to shoot it the way I wanted to. I didn't have to hide his face or Tyrese's and Sung's because they were doing everything themselves."

Gibson adds: "I felt really good about that scene. I love that Justin gave me an opportunity to demonstrate that Roman can get in there and get busy, too. Of course, it's Roman, so we figured out the sweet spot and made sure the audience is having fun...even at the height of some dramatic moments."

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