CH: Chris Hill
CS: Courtney Solomon
CH: You have produced closed to 30 films yet directed only three, how did that come about? Do you prefer producing more than Directing?
CS: I actually prefer Directing, It’s just after I made an American Haunting I signed a multiyear deal with Lionsgate to produce and put films out. I wasn’t allowed to direct for a certain number of years. That was up contractually around the time the Getaway script came in, so then I went back to Directing. It was a career decision because there was a great opportunity with Lionsgate for a certain number of years. I had a lot of great of great experiences producing. I like producing and directing.
CH: Working with other directors was there anything you picked up or was it collaborative?
CS: It was actually the other way around. Most of the movies that we worked on were younger directors we were giving opportunities to. But then you learn from them as well because everybody has their own style and visual way of looking at things and telling a story. If you noticed it was a lot of films over a short period of time so it would have been impossible to direct while producing all those movies.
CH: Yeah there were five years there for you that looked pretty crazy; you mentioned you liked the script when you saw it. The majority of the film are car chases, what was the script like when you saw it was it a traditional script? How many pages was the script?
CS: No, it was a traditional script, when they detail out action it takes a lot of pages so they got a full length script in there. What interested me was I liked the old practical car chase movies, the classics like Bullitt, like the original Getaway, Duel was amazing especially from a camera point of view. What I liked was the simplicity that this man gets thrown into the situation and we know nothing except obviously his wife has been taken and there is a guy on the other end saying if you don’t do what I say I am going to kill your wife. And then you sort of learn about him in one night. Essentially it’s a heist movie but it’s also the biggest car action/chase that I had ever seen. Technically I find those things fascinating. Being able to play with all those toys frankly was a personal thing. To do all those stunts practically and wreck all those cars and make an intense experience for the audience, it was a fun ride pardon the pun. I have no other way of saying it. That’s what I was aiming to do. What’s it like to take a script you read. It wasn’t the deepest story or a brand new concept. It was the simplicity of what we were trying to do. This could be interesting to the audience a throwback to those classics.
CH: The story isn’t that many layers and it’s a lot of car chasing. There were many different angles and cameras I hadn’t seen before. How many cameras did you use?
CS: Strapped on to the car interior and the exterior were 18 sometimes more if we strapped some onto the hood or the windows. There was an average of 27 to 42 cameras for every take. The movie itself is 630 hours of source footage. Which is roughly 20 regular movies, it has 6100 cuts in it which is roughly 4 times a normal movie.
CH: What was the body count on cars destroyed?
CS: 130 cars destroyed and it was literally a graveyard which we took a picture of the end of the shoot and 62 cameras destroyed. That was part of it. You hit the nail on the head when you say deep story, how deep is the story of a fast and furious movie?
CH: Not Much
CS: They do great and people go to see them for a certain reason and its entertainment. That’s why I thought if we can do all these things with all these cameras and not use CG it has a totally different feel to it. You just know as an audience that’s real. Not to take anything away from any of the artists that due those things. But on the screen you know that’s real.
CH: Yeah, It’s a more tangible experience knowing its real cars and real accidents.
CS: And Real danger involved. Those are stuntmen smashing into walls at 50 miles an hour. You take for granted the simple things like driving through traffic but that’s all choreographed except for the last shot which we did kind of illegally. There is no way to choreograph a 6 mile long shot that went on that long.
CH: How much of the time was Ethan behind the wheel?
CS: Actually we had three full Ethan stunt days which were days of Ethan doing stunt driving. We had stunt drivers in the other cars either chasing him or attacking him. Which we could sprinkle into many of the sequences. The biggest being the last sequence with the black BMW. He was doing dangerous stuff. Being sandwiched by cars, bumping and grinding and doing it at speed. Maybe 20 miles an hour than what the stunt guys would do it but he was at 50, he was at a freeway speed. He was amazing and understood the danger, he is super smart. But he wanted to keep it authentic. When you see the digital version you will be able to freeze it and go wow that is Ethan Hawke. We went for it, he agreed to do it, He signed a waiver saying if anything happened it wasn’t our fault.
CH: I was going to ask how you went about insurance
CS: They wouldn’t do it. We called them up and they laughed at us. They said we know what you’re doing on this movie and absolutely no way is that going to happen.
CH: Did Ethan have any previous driving experience?
CS: He went and road with some Nascar drivers to get prepared as a character and understand how they drive. He drove around a track with them. Admittedly being a New Yorker Ethan’s not much of a driver. He certainly honed his skills doing this movie. I think we learned so much about cars and driving doing this movie
CH: What made you choose the Shelby or was that in the script.
CS: Actually there was a different car written into the script but I won’t mention any names. They showed me a bunch of European super cars, Ferraris and I thought they were too slick. Especially for this movie which is really gritty and with the different camera formats almost reality footage cut together with Red footage and some higher quality footage. I wanted a car with character because it’s almost another star of the movie
CH: What drew you to Selena Gomez?
CS: She is 21 now and looking for more mature roles. So this was a nice transitionary role. The character herself has a front as this tough girl, but is going through issues trying to find herself. Selena was perfect for the part. When I said that to Ethan he said “Well that’s an odd choice” I said yeah, you in a car with Selena Gomez is not what anyone would expect to see. But on the other hand the two characters are not supposed to be together in the first place you have nothing in common and it’s only by the voices design that you wind up in the car together in the first place. He said that’s interesting and when you showed up on set she would really sponge off ethane. At the same time if you give her notes she sucks them up. It’s supposed to be a contrasting role.