Reliving the Golden Age: Autos and Camera Work
Howard prides himself at not repeating his work,
and logically, every film he undertakes requires a
unique set of challenges. Because of the enormous
amount of research the team needed to wrap their heads
around the racing world during this time period, filming Rush proved to be akin to shooting Apollo 13. The level
to which every single department immersed itself in
F1 and the period -- its visual richness and technical
details -- was simply astonishing. From the on-site
crews and tireless stunt doubles to the Oscar-winning
editing team of Mike Hill and Dan Hanley structuring
the film in the bay, the shoot proved to be an incredibly
collaborative effort on the part of everyone involved.
The filmmakers realized that without dramatic,
realistic racing scenes, Rush could be left at the starting
line. "We spent a huge amount of time figuring out
the racing," producer Eaton says. "Part of it is because
coverage on television these days is so advanced that
you've got to add something else from a filmic point of
view. We spent a lot of time doing tests, and we looked
at film of a lot of historic races. We created previsuals
to re-create these moments conceptually. There was
a huge desire on all our parts to get the detail and
The challenge was not only to get the detail right
but to present it in a way that no one had ever seen
before. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, who
was awarded a much-deserved Oscar for his work on
Slumdog Millionaire, was up to the challenge. "Anthony
is one of the most innovative cinematographers working
today," states producer Fellner.
"For one scene, I believe he used
more than 30 cameras, shooting all
the different elements, pieces of
the cars, the drivers."
Mantle isn't one to rest on
his laurels. He gives: "You must
increase ambitions with every film.
You have to push the envelope to
get the most out of every story,
every scene. I've never had so
many lenses out in my life. They
were all over the place: on the cars,
under the cars, up the tailpipes, on
the roof, under the roof. It was mad,
and I was pushing my crew to their limits." He pauses:
"But that pretty well describes the sport, doesn't it? I've
learned quite a bit about these historic F1 cars, and
they're beastly death machines, rolling coffins. When
you strip away the oddly colored panels, there's nothing
there but a ticking time bomb with gallons of fuel under
While the filmmakers couldn't afford to take
death-defying risks with their cars, they did have to
recognize that the passion for authenticity among
F1 fans would require extraordinary effort to satisfy.
Co-producer JIM HAJICOSTA spent a year during
development of Rush attending classic F1 motor sport
events and networking with associations, motor sport
engineering firms, owners and drivers of the F1s of
the 1970s. He attended events across Europe to source
the correct cars and, in some cases, have them restored
for the movie's scripted races. He also recruited many
of the drivers -- including former Grand Prix winner
JOCHEN MASS -- and managed the F1 department
during production, working with an expert on classic
car replicas, STUART McCRUDDEN.
Owing to very high cornering speeds that are
achieved through the generation of large amounts of
aerodynamic down force, F1 cars are among the fastest circuit-racing cars in the world. Indeed, they race at
speeds of up to 360 km/h (220 mph) with engines
limited in performance to a maximum of 18,000
revolutions per minute (RPM). The cars are capable of
lateral acceleration in excess of 5G in corners.
To place the audience in the drivers' seats, Howard
and Mantle attached cameras to the racers' helmets.
Hemsworth recalls what that was like: "It was quite
heavy on one side and then they had to weight the other
side, so you've got this great amount of weight on your
head. It gets right in there on the eyeball, your pupil
shifting in and out and little bits of light that it catches.
They had reflections of the grandstand and people in it,
in your eye. That's how close it was. Can you imagine
that on a 60-foot screen? It's an impressive shot. You're
right in the drivers' eyes, which will be awesome."
It was interesting for Hemsworth to be integrated
into the role of camera assistant. "Ron and Anthony did
tricky things with the smaller handheld cameras, which
they placed in various parts of the sets," he conveys.
"There's an element of having just crept into the room
and you're overhearing something. They used some
'70s lenses so it has a real period feel to it. Anthony is
beautiful with lighting. I kept calling him Rembrandt,
the master of lighting, in there painting away."
Hemsworth also received a deeper
understanding of the man Hunt was
when he climbed into a racing machine
to shoot key scenes. "You get to
understand how much power these
guys had at their fingertips or feet,"
he gives. "You're inches from the
ground; you're strapped in. It's a little
cocoon -- or coffin even, as it says in
the script. You're driving 170 miles
per hour, right at the edge. Anybody
in extreme sports where there's a
constant threat of death, there's got to
be some outlet for that as well. There's
an incredible amount of adrenaline but
also a vulnerability that comes with it.
"On the days we drove and weren't going anywhere
near the speeds that the real drivers do, that straightaway
made you think, 'Oh, my God,'" the performer
continues. "I could see where the addiction comes from,
the love for that adrenaline because it's unlike anything
else I've ever done or experienced. Senna talked about
it. It was the closest he ever felt to God when he was
driving at that speed, and that was when he truly felt in
the moment, and one with it."
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