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DEATH RACE

Crashes And Fights
Cast and crew of Death Race would not leave the production without their fair share of bumps and bruises. The cars, however, would barely exit the track on all four wheels after the punishment they received at the hands of the stunt team and second unit. Bolt discusses how three units were used to film Death Race: "We had a splinter unit, first unit and second unit. The second unit, running parallel to the first unit, was directed by SPIRO RAZATOS. He executed the action very specifically, carrying out Paul's storyboards. Paul directed all the drama and actors, and we had a splinter unit hovering in all the inserts—feet on accelerators, rev counters, steering wheels…all of those small pieces that really make up a movie.” Lensing the Races

With multiple autos racing at top speed, there were many challenges during filming. Some spectacular stunts could only be done once, so Anderson's team shot as much footage as possible. Up to eight cameras shot from multiple points of view—both in the air and on the ground. Cameras were rigged in crash boxes to protect them from impact, fire, heat and debris, and mounted on the cars so they'd be in the middle of the action. Often, the second unit was just outside the windows of cars zooming by.

For the writer/director, shooting Death Race offered a nod to another era of filmmaking. "In the 1970s and '80s, there was a limit to how close you could get the camera to some of these crashes,” Anderson says, "a limit to how much you could move the camera. We've built a load of unique rigs that have never been seen before in movies—built specifically for this film. We were able to get the camera so close to these real crashes, these real explosions—cars on fire, cars spinning 20 feet in the air—all done practically and all done safely.”

In order to implement his vision of a deadly place and time, Anderson worked with a seasoned film and stunt crew. Second-unit stunt coordinator ANDY GILL notes: "Luckily, everything we could do in the physical world, Paul wanted to do. For a lot of big wrecks, we had some effects wirework that helped with the stunt work, but we tried to keep it as real as we could. We stayed away from the special and visual effects for flipping cars through the air…unless it was physically impossible.”

To keep stunts organized, Gill created diagrams of all the races, which he color coded to indicate details such as which cars would explode and how many bullet holes they had in them each lap. Matchbox cars were used to block out the action in miniature. When the team needed to make actual cars blow up, it built some that didn't need human drivers. "We got with special effects to build these rigs: remote-control cars,” explains Gill. "When we needed to shoot at high speed and have a very violent wreck with the cars ripping themselves apart… we didn't put stunt people in.”

The other Gill on the set, Andy's brother Jack, was the lead stunt driver. He drove the 600-horsepower, "new muscle car” Mustang and worked with the other stunt drivers (and actors when at the wheel) to secure all moves were done safely. It was mandatory, as, for instance, the Ram had very limited visibility and the size of the window in the chop top is approximately 3 inches tall.

Jack Gill says they employed all kinds of special driving tricks and stunts to make the races look spectacular. "The reverse-drive rig is something we've been using for about five years. It's an ingenious little thing where you hook up a steering wheel and a set of pedals and a brake in the back of the car so that another driver can sit in back and look out the back window.” The reverse-drive rig allowed the stunt crew to create spectacular driving action as, essentially, two guys drove for one stunt.

To keep the story in sync, it was crucial to get shots of the actors in the cars driv

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