Disney and DreamWorks’ high-octane video game adaptation Need For Speed hits theaters this weekend and its major selling point – outside of the video game brand recognition and sexy supercars – is what it offers in terms of action. Where the Fast & Furious franchise, and most action-heavy blockbusters increasingly rely on special effects and CGI work to realize exciting set pieces, Need For Speed offers something different.
On our visit to the set of Need For Speed we saw examples of what the film’s stunt drivers, stunt coordinator Lance Gilbert and director Scott Waugh (Act of Valor) in action. Gilbert and Waugh come from stunt-heavy backgrounds and families, making them worthy candidates of bringing the experience of playing Need For Speed games to the big screen, in real and believe way.
Don Kaye had the chance to catch up with the pair at the Need For Speed junket on behalf of Screen Rant and talked about the history and evolution of stunt work and what film inspires some of what fans will see in the film.
Both of you come from families of stunt people – there’s a whole generational thing going on here. How does this movie kind of pay tribute to that, look back at that and bring it into the present?
Scott Waugh: Well I think from the inception – we grew up as stuntmen and our fathers were, you know, some of the pioneers in the industry. His (Lance’s) grandfather was the stunt man that drove the chariots in “Ben-Hur.” So it kind of comes from a long line of stuntmen, and I really wanted to pay respects to, to me, some of the greatest car movies of all time, which is “Bullitt,” which is “Vanishing Point” and “Smokey and the Bandit,” when everything was real, everything was practical, there was no CGI, and the characters were fun and the stories were entertaining.
What has changed in the technology of doing stunts? Is it less dangerous now? When your dads and granddad were doing it, was it more dangerous than it is today?
Lance Gilbert: Well, they were pioneering back in the day. They were figuring things out. So we have the advantage of, you know, learning from their mistakes and their successes, and then taking their successes and then adding other technology things that have grown and developed over the time too to help accentuate the action, you know, and to make it better and bigger and faster – and safer.
From the start you said you wanted to do this film with practical effects. Did you have to do a lot of arm-twisting to get that with the studio, or were they cool from the start with you doing all this for real?
Waugh: I think Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider, they asked me to direct this movie probably because they know that’s what I do. That’s my signature. I like everything for real and I applaud them ‘cause that’s the movie they wanted to make and so they’ve been beyond supportive from the beginning. It’s been great. I mean, they really knew that I wanted no CG and I wanted to bring back the style of filmmaking and I mean, c’mon, Steven’s fantastic and he’s so supportive.
Do you each have a single favorite car chase from film history?
Waugh: “Bullitt.” You can go back and look at “Bullitt” and it still stands on its own two feet and still the best car chase of all time.
Gilbert: I agree. “Bullitt” was pretty classic. It’s hard to beat a classic.
Waugh: It’s just raw. You look at it and you realize it’s just raw. There’s no like fantastical b.s. in it. It’ s just like, you follow and you see Steve McQueen driving and the actors driving and they’re just doing things in such a great way.
Gilbert: And it’s not all “cutty”and quick. It’s – you see the imagery for a length of time. You can feel it, you know, and you know the speeds that they’re going ‘cause you’re on it for a while, watching it, you know – same thing that he (Scott) did.
More: ‘Need For Speed’ Review
DreamWorks Pictures’ Need For Speed is directed by Scott Waugh and stars Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Ramon Rodriguez, Rami Malek, Scott Mescudi, Dakota Johnson, Harrison Gilbertson and Michael Keaton.
Need for Speed hits theaters on March 14, 2014.