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RUSH

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 authenticity right."

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 your backside."

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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