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Shooting on Location
Rio, the Caribbean and the U.S. "Rio is good this time of year” is a line of dialogue from Fast & Furious that speaks volumes. Recalls Diesel: "Letty is the one that brings up Rio in Fast & Furious; it sounds like a nondescript, throwaway line but it's very telling.” Fans only had to wait less than a year for an exhaustive cast of their Fast favorites and crew to regroup and begin filming the next chapter. Los Angeles, Miami, Tokyo, the Dominican Republic and Mexico have served as backdrops for previous chapters. In Fast Five, Dom, Brian and Mia make their way further south to Brazil, hiding out in the notorious favelas of Rio de Janeiro. They now face their greatest challenges yet in a city where there are no rules. Latin culture has been a mainstay of several chapters in the series and continues as the action plays out from the pristine white-sand beaches of Copacabana to the gritty, narrow streets of Rio. Principal photography on Fast Five began in early summer 2010, with three film units shooting simultaneously.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The entire returning cast—Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Tego Calderón and Don Omar—trekked to Rio to ensure that their characters were well integrated with the landmarks and personality of this one-of-a-kind city.

Explains director Lin: "I felt like it was important to go to Rio and shoot some critical scenes because the texture, the way that it looks—even the way that the sun interacts with the buildings—are things that you have to have. Ultimately, it's also about respect. If you're going to have a film take place somewhere, you have to get down there to be able to understand and interact with the community and with the culture. Otherwise, it just wouldn't feel right.”

The filmmakers strategically utilized Rio's film unit to capture aerial shots and on-location images of some of the city's more iconic locales. These included such Rio favorites as Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana Fort, Ipanema Beach, the Dona Marta lookout point and Christ the Redeemer statue. As well, establishing shots of each of the assembling team members were taken as they individually arrived in Rio to join together for the heist.

Gibson as Roman was filmed arriving at Galeão International Airport to be reunited with his old friend Brian. When word spread that the actor was shooting a scene at the airport, the cast and crew quickly became mobbed. Similarly, Bridges drew much attention as he shot a scene in which Tej buys a car to drive around the South American city. The final scene at Copacabana Fort found all of our returning favorites walking down the beach together.

Diesel agrees that the sense of place absolutely had to be established by physically shooting key scenes in Brazil. He comments: "We were able to shoot where other productions might not be able to shoot because our franchise has such good street cred. Fans are going to have a lot of fun traveling to Rio with us. Rio is an amazing place, and the fact that we can take the audience there, they're going to get a lot of enjoyment out of that.”

For producer Moritz, it was fortunate that Lin's crews were able to capture as much footage as they did. He shares: "Luckily, we actually ended up shooting a bunch more in Rio than we thought we initially would. For example, we went to Rio and shot in the real favelas. To do some of the big, high rooftop chases through the favelas, we decided to head to Puerto Rico where we could have more control. Rio was a really exciting place to be, and its texture added much to the rawness of this movie.”

Puerto Rico and California

The Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was perfect for navigating the requirements of many of the film's huge set pieces. Too, the team could re-create the narrow thoroughfares and favelas of the densely populated Rio here. The main and second units began filming on location in and around the capital of San Juan. The island's lush tropical greenery and wide city streets provided the production with a versatility that allowed for the majority of the film's bigger stunt sequences and exterior scenes to be pulled off without a hitch.

Says producer Fottrell about the locations chosen: "For a character-driven movie, shooting in Rio is great. But for a big action sequence with a second unit as big as ours, the technical aspect, the equipment—everything involved to pull these movies off—it was too ambitious to do in Rio. Puerto Rico has great architectural bones and similar aspects to Rio, and we figured with proper visual effects and set extensions, we could definitely pull it off and make the audience feel as if they're in Rio for the entire movie.”

Meanwhile, 4,000 miles away in the searing-hot desert town of Rice, California, a third action unit known simply as the "train unit” was midway through its three-week schedule, filming the eye-popping train-robbery sequence that opens the film and sets the frenetic pace for the rest of the story.

The game remains the same but the stakes are raised as Dom, Brian and Mia join Vince for a seemingly easy job. Their mission: to hijack priceless luxury cars off a train. Hearkening to the team's proven skill set of boosting cars from moving targets, Morgan amped up the juice on a sequence that blows the previous one off the rails. "We one-up the classic stagecoach or train robbery,” Diesel laughs. "Our version is done without horses but with a whole lot of horsepower.” It is a job that spirals out of control fast and seals the fate of the trio and their old friend Vince.

It was up to accomplished production designer Peter Wenham, who previously worked on the favela-centric The Bourne Ultimatum and Battle: Los Angeles for Moritz, to transform both Puerto Rico and Atlanta into the Brazilian locales that he and the filmmakers had scouted during the early weeks of preproduction. Wenham would continue his own technical scouts in and around Brazil to further perfect his design plan for the action-thriller.

Moritz praises Wenham's skill at creating a seamless landscape that married the three filming locations. "Peter was able to take Atlanta, Puerto Rico and Rio and combine them all so it felt like we shot the whole movie in Rio. He did a fantastic job of it all. He is a genius who knew exactly how to piece this puzzle together.”

The action of Fast Five is not limited to fast cars driving at breakneck speeds. It includes bone-shattering fight sequences, a nail-biting train heist and a foot-chase sequence that proved to be one of the bigger logistical challenges for Lin's production team, particularly for cinematographer Stephen Windon, who previously collaborated with the director on Tokyo Drift and garnered an Emmy nomination for his work on the epic HBO miniseries The Pacific.

The foot-chase sequence in which Dom, Brian and Mia are relentlessly pursued by Hobbs and Reyes' henchman throughout the steep hillside favelas offered a grueling week for the production. The scene required the trio's fast-paced exploits to be shot amidst rain, stifling heat and humidity.

The small hillside town of Naranjito, located in the mountainous central region of the island 60 miles outside of San Juan, provided the ideal visual backdrop to replicate the topography of Rio. It also allowed the production team the ability to choreograph and execute an intricate scene in which both actors and the stunt doubles sprint across narrow walkways. Not only were their pathways slick from the damp tropical heat, the performers also had to jump on and through ramshackle rooftops wh

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