FAST & FURIOUS 6
Shooting in London, Glasgow and Liverpool
Ironically, the first four weeks of the production
would find the majority of the principal cast -- Diesel,
Walker, Johnson, Rodriguez, Gibson, Bridges, Kang,
Gadot and Carano -- ensconced in soundstages at Shepperton Studios as they filmed interior dialogue-
driven scenes instead of hauling ass down England's
A1 or M4 motorways. That would come in due time.
However, the first few days of filming were anything
but mundane, as the family of actors and behind-the-scenes crew were reassembled and raring to go.
Principal photography on Fast & Furious 6 began
in mid-summer in London, just as the world was
tuning in to watch the opening ceremonies of the 2012
Olympic Games. Lin and the crew needed to keep
to a tight schedule of filming in London, even amid
the spectacle of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Fortunately, it allowed some of the cast and filmmakers
the rare opportunity to be fans and attend a few
Olympic events and cheer on their favorite athletes.
Filming at some of London's more iconic locations -- such as Piccadilly Circus, Wembley Stadium,
Lambeth Bridge, Canary Wharf, Waterloo Station and
Battersea Power Station -- was integral to the story.
Indeed, this portion of the production would follow
in the fall, when the city had returned to its usual
bustling rhythms. With the bulk of Fast & Furious 6
set in London, the filmmakers wanted to make sure
they captured all aspects -- from the gritty streets of
Hackney in East London and the Thames, with its
spectacular views of the Tower Bridge,
to the neon-lit streets of Piccadilly.
The production's second "action"
unit, once again helmed by Razatos,
however, would escape the Olympic
fervor in London and get straight to
filming an hour north of the capital city,
near Ipswich. An airstrip at a defunct
Royal Air Force base would play host to
the crew, who would spend more than
three weeks shooting ambitious exterior
nighttime coverage of the intricately
choreographed third-act sequence --
known among cast and crew as the
Perhaps the most ambitious shoot in the history
of the franchise, the sequence finds Hobbs, Dom and
the team racing down an airstrip in pursuit of Shaw
and his crew before they can escape in an enormous
Antonov 124 cargo plane. It's a multilayered free-for-
all as this final showdown occurs in- and outside the
aircraft. The main unit would handle the filming of the
interior portion of the Antonov sequence, as well as
several key exterior beats of the scene, on the cavernous
soundstages of Longcross Studios.
For second unit director Razatos, the scene was a
massive partnership of multiple cameras filming practical stunt action with myriad lighting systems, special
effects, picture cars and visual effects components.
The art department designed and constructed full-scale
sections of the plane fuselage, as well as wheels, the
cargo ramp and other key plane sections that were
augmented to make it fully operational and mobile
when mounted upon semi-trucks.
Precision driving occurred by stunt drivers -- both
in front of and behind the cameras -- as specially rigged
camera cars tracked the action by maneuvering inches
from the drivers. The Dodge Chargers, an Alfa Romeo
Giulietta, Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon, Jeep, Range
Rovers and the Flip Car would all get screen time screaming down the runway as they were followed
by high-speed camera cars such as the turbo-charged
PORSCHE CAYENNE, CADILLAC ESCALADE
and AUDI RS4. These were merely a sampling of the
arsenal of fast cars selected by Razatos, Meglic and
second unit stunt coordinator Andy Gill as they worked
in tandem with Lin and the main unit team to capture
the driving exploits. Their collaborative experience of
creating the cutting-edge action on Fast Five lent itself
to stepping up their game for Fast & Furious 6. This
shorthand would prove essential throughout film ing,
particularly for this exhausting first leg, which ad mittedly
was the biggest challenge for the second unit team.
The streets of Glasgow and Liverpool would play
host to filming of the "Team vs. Team" race scenes,
which would give the locals their first glimpse at the
new crop of eye candy roaring through their streets.
London's narrow maze of roadways, often clogged with
commuters, was not conducive to filming the bulk of
the fast-paced action, so the wider roadways of both
cities made ideal substitutes.
Razatos and the second unit team would first go
to Glasgow for two weeks to film the chase scenes
in which Hobbs, Dom and the team were hot on the
heels of Shaw and his crew for the first time. It's here
that the Flip Car was unveiled and wowed everyone
as it zigzagged through the streets before launching
several police cars into the air. Hobbs' monstrous
Navistar MXT also garnered
attention as it dwarfed every
other car on the street. A week
filming in the tunnels and
streets of Liverpool would
complete the sequence in
Luckily, the filmmakers
were able to film a driving
sequence through Whitehall
and Piccadilly Circus. In a rare
move, city officials allowed the
closure of Piccadilly for several hours so the production
could film Dom's Daytona and Letty's Jensen racing
through the streets and drifting through the main square.
Squealing tires drew whoops and claps from fans and
those lucky enough to stumble upon the film set and see
the long-lost lovers reunited behind the wheel.
With second unit on an extended road trip,
Shepperton Studios, located 13 miles south of central
London, would serve as home base for the production's
main unit and house green-screen stages, training
facilities and several film sets. These included Interpol
offices, Dom and Hobbs' London headquarters and the
NATO military base.
Longcross Studios, a quick drive from Shepperton
Studios, housed additional special effects-rigged film
sets to re-create the interior of the Antonov 124 cargo
plane. It was also home to the hundreds of picture cars
used in the film. A racetrack and service roads on the
property allowed the stunt and special effects depart-
ment to test each and every car -- not to mention the
Chieftain tank -- to ensure that any modifications to the
vehicles would withstand their upcoming punishment.
Special effects supervisor Joss Williams and his team,
which at its busiest numbered 137-plus, spearheaded
Lin's directive to implement as much hands-on action as
possible for the film. It is a methodology that Williams
wholeheartedly agrees with...as long as he has time to
prepare. "It's all about preparation in special effects," says the veteran SFX supervisor, "especially when it came
to the scope and diverse range of effects involved. I'm
fanatic about trying to keep everything as real as possible
when I approach any film I work on. Fast & Furious 6
has been a constant juggling act in the best possible way.
I can honestly say that any normal action film would be
pleased with just one of our sequences, and we've got
four. I'm proud of every single one of them."
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