From DreamWorks Pictures comes “Need for Speed,” a visceral and evocative return to the great car-culture movies of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Tapping into the significance of the car and the open road in American car culture and the freedom and individualism with which they both provide, the film is a story of honor, friendship and loyalty and the testosterone-fueled journey of one man looking for revenge and ultimately, redemption.
For Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), who runs his family’s auto shop and races the underground street circuit with his buddies on weekends, life is good. But his whole world is turned upside down when he is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. In prison, he spends the next two years thinking about one thing: vengeance. While questioning the morals to which he has always adhered, he is nevertheless determined to bring down his enemies … no matter what the cost.
Based on the eponymous car racing video game franchise, “Need for Speed” captures the freedom and excitement of the game in a real-world setting while bringing a level of intensity and authenticity to the action on-screen.
The film stars Aaron Paul (two-time Emmy® winner for “Breaking Bad”), Dominic Cooper (“Captain America: The First Avenger”), Imogen Poots (“Fright Night”), Ramon Rodriguez (“Transformers”), Rami Malek (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”), Scott Mescudi, Dakota Johnson (“21 Jump Street”), Harrison Gilbertson and Michael Keaton (“Batman”).
“Need For Speed” is presented by DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment, produced by Patrick O’Brien, John Gatins (Oscar®-nominee for “Flight”) and Mark Sourian (“Delivery Man”) and directed by Scott Waugh (“Act of Valor”). The screenplay is by George Gatins (“She’s Out of My League”). The story is by George Gatins & John Gatins, based on the video game series created by Electronic Arts. Executive producers are Stuart Besser (“3:10 to Yuma”), Scott Waugh, Max Leitman (“Act of Valor”), Frank Gibeau, Patrick Soderlund and Tim Moore (“Gran Torino”) with Shane Hurlbut (“Act of Valor”) serving as director of photography, Jon Hutman (“Rock of Ages”) as production designer, Ellen Mirojnick (“Cloverfield”) as costume designer and Paul Rubell (Oscar® nominee for “Collateral” and “The Insider”) and Scott Waugh as editors.
From DreamWorks Pictures comes “Need for Speed,” a visceral and evocative return to the great car-culture movies of the ’60s and ’70s. Tapping into the significance of the car and the open road in American car culture and the freedom and individualism with which they both provide, the film is a story of honor, friendship and loyalty and the testosterone-fueled journey of one man looking for revenge and, ultimately, redemption.
For Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), who runs his family’s auto shop and races the underground street circuit with his buddies on weekends, life is good. But his whole world is turned upside down when he is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. In prison, he spends the next two years thinking about one thing: vengeance. While questioning the morals to which he has always adhered, he is nevertheless determined to bring down his enemies … no matter what the cost.
Based on the eponymous car-racing video-game franchise, “Need for Speed” captures the freedom and excitement of the game in a real-world setting while bringing a level of intensity and authenticity to the action on-screen.
The film stars Aaron Paul (two-time Emmy® winner for “Breaking Bad”), Dominic Cooper (“Captain America: The First Avenger”), Imogen Poots (“Fright Night”), Ramon Rodriguez (“Transformers”), Rami Malek (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”), Scott Mescudi, Dakota Johnson (“21 Jump Street”), Harrison Gilbertson and Michael Keaton (“Batman”).
“Need for Speed” is presented by DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment, produced by Patrick O’Brien, John Gatins (Oscar® nominee for “Flight”) and Mark Sourian (“Delivery Man”) and directed by Scott Waugh (“Act of Valor”). The screenplay is by George Gatins (“She’s Out of My League”). The story is by George Gatins & John Gatins, based on the video-game series created by Electronic Arts. Executive producers are Stuart Besser (“3:10 to Yuma”), Scott Waugh, Max Leitman (“Act of Valor”), Frank Gibeau, Patrick Soderlund and Tim Moore (“Gran Torino”) with Shane Hurlbut (“Act of Valor”) serving as director of photography, Jon Hutman (“Rock of Ages”) as production designer, Ellen Mirojnick (“Cloverfield”) as costume designer, and Paul Rubell (Oscar® nominee for “Collateral” and “The Insider”) and Scott Waugh as editors.
Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is an honest, hard-working auto mechanic living in Mt. Kisco, New York, a sleepy, blue-collar town where he works at Marshall Motors with his buddies. The recent death of his father has left him with a pile of delinquent bills and he is struggling to make ends meet. On the weekends, Tobey and the guys race cars on the underground street circuit where a victory can mean substantial cash. But it’s the rush of adrenaline that is the real attraction.
When his former nemesis, the wealthy, pompous Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), stops by the garage, Tobey is initially resistant to him and his business proposition. But Dino is offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build the fastest Mustang in the world and a financial windfall, which could save his shop, and he reluctantly agrees. Following the completion of the Mustang and its subsequent sale to a big-time car broker via his beautiful but opinionated British colleague Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots), Tobey agrees to an impromptu race with Dino and Tobey’s close friend and protégé Little Pete (Harrison Gilbertson). When the race turns deadly, Dino flees the scene, framing Tobey and sending him to prison.
Two years later he is out, and while Dino has been relishing his freedom and expanding his business out West, Tobey has been plotting his revenge. His best chance is defeating him in the high-stakes race known as The De Leon. The Super Bowl of underground racing, The De Leon takes place once a year and only a few select drivers are invited to participate with the winner taking all. To get there in time, however, Tobey will have to break his parole and travel from New York to San Francisco in 48 hours.
Much to his dismay, Julia joins him on the cross-country trek, turning out to be surprisingly resourceful and not quite as annoying as anticipated. Together with the help of his steadfast crew, Tobey defies odds at every turn on the action-packed gauntlet, his mission of revenge becoming one of redemption. For what Dino does not understand, but which Tobey’s ethics and integrity dictate, is that you never leave a man behind … you always go back.
In 1994, EA Entertainment (a division of Electronic Arts) released “The Need for Speed,” a racing video game which made the player an active participant in the intense action of street racing. The game was immediately heralded for its authenticity, winning over fans with its enticement of exotic race cars and the chance to triumph on the race track.
The game spawned a series of increasingly popular racing titles, becoming the most successful racing video-game series in the world and one of the most successful video-game franchises of all time. It has been published in 22 languages in 60 countries, selling over 150 million units and raking in sales of more than $4 billion.
When EA first began thinking about the possibility of bringing their iconic video game to the big screen, they decided to take a proactive approach and not wait for the right script. The company had been pitched different concepts over the years but nothing had resonated. Plus the majority of games made into films had not been successful.
“We went in knowing the kind of film we wanted to make and looking for experts in the industry to help us make it even better,” says producer Patrick O’Brien. “The brand is important to us, as are its fans, so we knew we had to do it right – and with the right partners – or not do it at all.”
Movies develop for all kinds of reasons, but “Need for Speed” came about for the best reason: passion. Screenwriter John Gatins and his brother and co-writer George own an auto shop in Van Nuys, California where they restore classics. Both have been enamored with the culture of cars since childhood, and when the company visited their garage to discuss a possible screenplay, everyone immediately hit it off. In the Gatins brothers they found kindred spirits who spoke the same language and were equally as well versed in cars and filmmaking.
John Gatins says, “What was great about the writing process is that the various iterations of the video game don’t provide a lot of narrative which created an open slate for George and myself to infuse the characters into this world.”
The Gatins ended up delivering a screenplay that was a character-driven story set against the backdrop of gear-grinding street racing. EA then partnered with DreamWorks once it was apparent they were interested in making the same kind of film and together they began to focus on finding a director to take the helm.
Everyone was in agreement the key to a successful film would be someone who could make the material stand out and tell it with a unique, visual style and one name that came up repeatedly was Scott Waugh. Waugh had just finished directing “Act of Valor,” one of the most realistic action films ever made about an elite squad of Navy SEALs, many who actually had leading roles in the film.
According to producer Mark Sourian, “Scott has a real passion for cars, starting out as a stuntman himself, so we knew he could bring a grit and truth to the film and convey the suspense of the car sequences.”
Waugh also wanted to pay tribute to the great car movies from the ’60s and ’70s with “Need for Speed,” by making a film in the same vein as “Bullitt” (1968), “The French Connection” (1971) and “Vanishing Point” (1971) where the car sequences were authentic and executed without any visual effects. Or “Grand Prix” (1966) and “Duel” (1971) which had strong stories with characters the audience really cared about. Waugh believed shooting movies without practical stunts was becoming a lost art form, being replaced with the effects of computer technology.
He explains, “Capturing the action sequences in the camera works on a couple levels. First, there’s an innate trigger in humans when we know something is not real, no matter how good it may look. And on a visceral level you can tell when an actor is in a real environment.”
“We wanted to honor Scott’s vision with a story that felt real and had events in the movie that could actually happen,” says John Gatins. “You won’t be sitting in the theater saying, ‘A car can’t do that.’”
When making a movie about America’s fascination with the car culture, it was essential to find an actor for the role of Tobey Marshall who could embody a time when everything was cool and definitive … someone like a young Steve McQueen. The star of such films as “The Great Escape” (1963) and “The Getaway” (1972), McQueen was the definition of cool. Handsome, masculine, dangerous and lovable all at the same time, he was also known to do all his own car stunts, and he remains a cultural icon to this day.
“Steve was a huge movie star but he was also a racer, and it was something that permeated his life,” says Waugh. “He had this hip factor that you couldn’t explain, and we wanted to find someone who was a younger version of that.”
Tobey Marshall (Paul) is a good guy leading a simple life. He is focused, dependable and fiercely loyal … the kind of person who considers his buddies at Marshall Motors his family. For Tobey, racing is more than just a way to escape the stress at work and help pay off the mortgage at the garage. It is an art.
Aaron Paul was an actor the filmmakers had always been considering, but initially it was for the role of the film’s antagonist, Dino Brewster. Best known for his riveting performance as Jesse Pinkman on the critically acclaimed television series “Breaking Bad,” he was an obvious choice to play a bad guy like Dino. Waugh was certain that Paul was his Tobey, but there was some concern the actor could be perceived as too edgy as a result of “Breaking Bad.” Then DreamWorks Chairman Steven Spielberg and CEO Stacey Snider saw Paul’s audition tape and immediately said he should play Tobey.
“Tobey’s got a good view on life. He’s a true gentleman,” says Paul. “But after ‘Breaking Bad’ I can see why people would not automatically think of me.” He immediately jumped on board, intrigued by all the talk of Steve McQueen, yet understanding it was a reference to the style of film as opposed to an actual impersonation.
“Scott wanted to make a film that was a throwback to classic car films like ‘Bullitt’ with Steve McQueen – something that was raw, gritty and honest without being too polished,” says Paul. “And as an actor, those concepts and aspirations for the movie were very, very exciting to me.”
The filmmakers went against type when casting Paul as Tobey, and for the role of Dino Brewster, Tobey’s arch-rival in racing and in life, they were determined to break the cliché of the stereotypical bad guy and make the character a little better-rounded.
Waugh says, “It’s always easy to point out the mustache-twirling bad guy in a film, but I wanted our villain to be more complex and actually go through tough decisions and face the occasional morality check.”
Dino Brewster, played by Dominic Cooper, and Tobey have known each other for years. A former NASCAR driver, Dino is arrogant, dresses impeccably and drives expensive cars. Dino dates Tobey’s ex-girlfriend and Little Pete’s sister Anita (Dakota Johnson), which, coupled with the fact that Tobey has always been a better racer, has left him jealous and resentful.
“He is a troubled soul who is extraordinarily competitive and probably as talented a driver as Tobey,” says Cooper. “Unlike Tobey, Dino comes from a background of privilege and was given every advantage in life. But he is obsessed with money and success which sends him into a state of madness.”
Cooper adds, “The beautiful thing is that Scott [Waugh] knows guys like Dino from his racing days, so I trusted him with how far I could go with the character.”
The crew that support Tobey at Marshall Motors are like brothers. They have each other’s backs and they all uphold the same values of honesty and good sportsmanship, both as men and as racers. Once they realize Tobey’s shop is in jeopardy of going under, everyone comes together to build the Mustang for Dino, joining the journey to The De Leon when Tobey needs them, and dodging authorities and fighting off new adversaries along the way.
The filmmakers were hoping to cast Tobey’s crew with a mixture of both familiar and new faces and hoped the actors they chose would become friends off-screen, leading to a more natural, believable camaraderie on screen.
“You can’t force people to be friends, so boy did we get lucky with these guys,” explains Waugh. “They did everything together and essentially became the Marshall Motors band just like we’d hoped.”
Ramon Rodriguez was brought on to play Joe Peck, Tobey’s chief mechanic at Marshall Motors. Joe, the heart of the group and a jack-of-all-trades, builds the engines and takes his job very seriously. Rami Malek plays Finn, another of the Marshall Motors mechanics. The only college graduate among his friends, he is the most laid back of the guys and very tech savvy to boot.
Scott Mescudi is Benny, the fun-loving, wise-cracking car detailer at the shop and an Army Reserve pilot on the weekends. Mescudi has appeared on television shows including “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “One Tree Hill” and, as a recording artist, has worked with artists ranging from Kanye West, Jay-Z and Common to Mary J. Blige and Shakira and sold over 5.2 million digital singles.
“I was fortunate not knowing who he was before his audition,” says Waugh. “I cast him because he was Scott Mescudi, a funny guy with a lot of charisma.” Which is just how Mescudi prefers it. Performing on stage as a musician has made him a better actor and provided him with a sense of confidence on camera, but he is quick to differentiate between the two.
Australian actor Harrison Gilbertson was cast in the ill-fated role of Little Pete. He is Anita’s younger brother who looks up to Tobey like an older brother.
Imogen Poots is Julia Maddon, the uptight Brit working for a big-time car broker with an impressive knowledge of cars. The role was a tricky one to cast. A good part of the film is Tobey and Julia in the Mustang. Since there were not a lot of tricks to fall back on, the actors needed to have the acting chops and chemistry to keep the audience engaged. Fortunately Poots had worked with Paul in the past. They trusted each other and were comfortable enough to be fearless with their actions and emotions.
In discussing Poots, Paul says, “She is so brilliant and says the most random things that alternate between hilarious and insightful. If you ever get a chance to jump in a car with Imogen Poots, take it.”
When it came to casting the role of the semi-disembodied voice The Monarch, the filmmakers were looking for someone very specific. They needed an actor who could become the soul of street racing, similar to what the voices of Wolfman Jack did in “American Graffiti” (1973) and Supersoul in “Vanishing Point” (1971). The Monarch, a former racer turned billionaire and orchestrator of the high-stakes underground race The De Leon, is vehemently opposed to any kind of sanctioned racing and is only seen via the internet from an undisclosed location. He dictates who gets in to The De Leon and when and where it takes place.
“We wanted someone who would bring the eccentricity associated with old-school racers like Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Cale Yarborough … guys who were incredibly charismatic but totally bizarre at the same time,” says Waugh. “Fortunately Michael Keaton was eager to be involved and brought stuff to the role I never could have imagined.”
Adds Sourian, “This role is similar to some of the wacky characters he played earlier in his career but hasn’t done in quite some time. We were very blessed to get him.”
Casting requisites on “Need for Speed” extended far beyond the principal actors. The filmmakers needed to select and locate cars that would deliver the right look, attitude and performance on screen.
For decades, cars have been a vital part of American culture. There is a strong association between drivers and their vehicles and they are often seen as an extension of ourselves, representing who a person is and what they stand for.
“As a teenager you define yourself not by when you can vote, but by when you can drive,” says Waugh.
In the end, a variety of classic ’70s muscle cars and pricey European super cars were chosen. The film starts off in Mt. Kisco, New York, which is a blue-collar town with hard-working Americans and the sort of culture that has always gravitated toward muscle cars, and many of the super cars have been featured in the video games.
“Whether you like muscle cars, super cars or anything in between, this movie will satisfy ‘Need for Speed’ fans,” says O’Brien.
The Mustang that Tobey and Julia drive en route to The De Leon was designated the film’s hero car. The “it” car of 1964 symbolizing freedom, romance and America, the Mustang launched the American muscle car movement and went on to become a worldwide icon.
Once Ford Motors heard about the film and the significance of the Mustang to the story, they were eager to get involved. The company worked with production to design a special “Need for Speed” Mustang based on the 2013 Shelby GT500. Carroll Shelby, a legendary American racer turned car designer who created the performance-based Mustang for Ford in 1965, had been working on the 50th anniversary edition when he passed away in 2012.
Ford was intrigued by the premise and collaborated with the filmmakers to style a car they hoped was similar to what Shelby would have created. Both parties wanted to respect the vision Shelby might have made without making it look too futuristic, but they did keep two of Shelby’s signature design elements, the blue stripes and chrome.
According to Waugh, “If you wanted a Mustang you always wanted the Shelby Mustang because it was an amazing car.”
The frame was altered by celebrated Ford designer Melvin Betancourt and built by Techno Sports in Detroit. Some of the alterations made to the “Need for Speed” Mustang include: a wider body, 20-inch alloy wheels (to help facilitate easier stunts for the stunt drivers), and a V8 engine topping out at 190 miles per hour. The interior console was adapted to accommodate an iPad for Tobey to use when communicating with his crew and when monitoring the Monarch, and the futuristic side-view mirrors were turned into cameras.
Seven different Mustangs were eventually built, each serving specific purposes ranging from beauty shots, stunts and driving shots to a model that could be lifted by and hang from a helicopter.
In addition to the Mustang, other iconic American muscle cars featured in the film were the ’69 Ford Gran Torino, ’68 Chevy Camaro and ’66 Pontiac GTO.
One of the focal points in both the crucial race between Tobey, Dino and Little Pete and the climactic showdown at The De Leon are the European super cars. They include a Swedish Koenigsegg Agera R, a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, a GTA Spano, a Bugatti Veyron and McLaren P1, all of which were featured in the video games, and a Saleen S7.
Multiples of each super car were needed for use when shooting as well, each one serving specific purposes as well and each one getting rigged to accept camera platforms. But due to their exorbitant price tags (over $1 million apiece) and the fact that they could not be placed in situations where damage was possible, the cars would have to be built.
“There are only a few super cars in the world and they’re not really camera-friendly,” explains Waugh. “You’re not going to drill into the side of a two-and-a-half-million-dollar car … they’re art pieces, that’s what everyone forgets. You’re going to replicate it to wreck it so the real one is still there.”
Luckily the manufacturers were enthusiastic to get involved and shared confidential CAD specs with Reel Industries in Los Angeles who then created 15 chasses and fiberglass shells for each make and model which could then be swapped out.
The Koenigsegg, Bugatti and McLaren all had 105-inch wheel bases, the Lamborghini a 101-inch wheel base, and the Spano a 100-inch wheel base; and with the Koenigsegg, a high-performance mid-engine two-seater which can reach speeds up to 270 miles per hour, 10 cars were needed.
Three camera cars were also used during principal photography for unique moves the script called for, which were a Mercedes Benz with a 24-foot telescopic Russian arm, a Porsche Cayenne used to push or pull a picture car, and a Saleen-supercharged Mustang.
The sidekick to Tobey’s Mustang in the film, The Beast, is driven by Joe Peck (Rodriquez) and Finn (Malek) on the cross-country trip. The Beast, along with the helicopter flown by Benny (Mescudi), are Tobey’s eyes and ears as he races towards The De Leon starting line. Picture Car Coordinator Steve Mann and his crew constructed it from a Ford F-450 truck raising it seven inches and outfitting it with giant 37-inch tires, a utility bed, and new front and back bumpers.
Mann and his team of mechanics had to complete restorations on a number of vehicles prior to and during production and in short amounts of time when the cars were damaged. One day they were restoring Tobey’s Gran Torino from the ground up and on another day taking apart a crashed GTO and putting it on another frame.
“It’s unheard of what these guys can do,” says Mann, “but they are great mechanics who feed off adrenaline and thrive under this kind of pressure.”
Pod cars, which are duplicates of the race cars designed so the actors can sit behind the wheel and deliver dialogue while a stunt driver steers remotely, were also used during production. The portion of the pod with the stunt driver’s seat and controls is a cage mounted outside the body of the car that places the stunt driver above and behind the actor. The pod cars were driven by famed precision drivers Tanner Foust, the most successful driver in X Games history and a world record holder for the longest jump in a car, and Rhys Millen, a Formula D champion and two-time world record holder for speed. They were joined by professional high-performance drivers Rich Rutherford, Tony Brakohiapa, Brent Fletcher and Paul Dallenbach. The six drivers drove the super cars in The De Leon as well.
According to Foust, who races cars for Ford and Rock Star and is a host of “Top Gear USA,” “The pods are scary. You have a very fast car but with a pod mounted on the back, so it’s like strapping yourself to the ski rack of a sports car and driving it from that position.”
He continues, “The steering can be rather challenging too, especially when you’re going door-to-door with a bunch of other cars at 100 miles per hour and you have an actor inside the car with you as well. There’s a lot of pressure.”
It was scary for the actors as well, but on a different level, as they were racing in cars reaching high speeds but with someone else sitting behind them doing the driving.
Cooper explains, “At first it is absolute terror, particularly if you’re someone who enjoys driving as much as I do. The first time around I had my foot slammed against the brake pedal purely on instinct hoping it would help but knowing it did nothing. But you know the guys in the pod are a billion times better drivers than you, so eventually you begin to let go and trust.”
Beyond the desire to tell a character-driven story steeped in car culture was Waugh’s mandate that all car stunts be practically executed. Most films in the past did car stunts practically but today the majority are done via green screen with talent in cars on a soundstage. But not on this film. As in “Act of Valor” where Waugh used actual Navy SEALs as opposed to casting actors to play them, he wanted “Need for Speed” to be as convincing as possible.
“We went back out on the road, travelling at high speeds and hanging out the side of the car to film this,” explains Waugh. “I wanted the audiences to really feel what it’s like to drive 230 miles per hour.”
The result is a unique perspective not often seen in cinema, with the audience actually becoming Tobey (a throwback to the game as well), which meant the cars were put through practical stunts in order to make the stakes for the characters more believable. According to Waugh, “My philosophy has always been that you can’t break physics because if you do it hurts the story because then the characters don’t apply to physics either.”
Sourian adds, “Most directors don’t have the skill or expertise to show actors driving fast unless it’s on a soundstage with a green screen background. Scott, however, has been able to get as close to the real thing as possible using stuntmen in the cars and, in a smart and safe way, the actors in these cars as well, which translates to a high-octane rush on screen.”
Fortunately for the production, Waugh is a veteran stuntman with credits on over 150 films in various capacities and comes from a family of stunt performers. His father, Fred Waugh, was a renowned stuntman and one of the first to advocate putting the audience in the boots of those doing the stunts. He also invented the 35mm helmet camera and an innovative hand-held camera called the Pogo Cam. Scott grew up spending time around celebrated stuntmen like Hal Needham (“Smokey and the Bandit”), a two-time Oscar® winner known as the king of stunts in Hollywood’s modern era and his father’s best friend. Fred Waugh passed away earlier this year and Scott has dedicated the film in his memory.
“Need for Speed” attracted some of the greatest precision drivers and best stunt performers in the business, including Stunt Coordinator Lance Gilbert (“Titanic”) who hails from another of the country’s premier stunt dynasties. Lance is a third-generation stuntman going back to his grandfather Joe Yrigoyen (“Ben Hur”) and continuing with his father Mickey Gilbert (“The Fall Guy”) followed by himself and brother Troy Gilbert (“The Lone Ranger”). The community of stunt performers is tight-knit so the Waugh and Gilbert families have known each other for years. Fred and Mickey were best friends, as are Scott and Lance, which made the set feel like a family reunion at times. In addition to Lance, Mickey and Troy also worked on the film as stunt coordinators.
According to Waugh, “We are truly like brothers. We fight, bicker, hug each other and love each other. We speak the same language and spend a lot of time asking the question, ‘What if?’ which always leads down some interesting paths.”
Lance Gilbert adds, “My dad was from the cowboy side of things and Scott’s from the circus side and they exchanged knowledge with each other and all of us. As we got older we started challenging ourselves to push more and more boundaries, which I believe led us to this movie.”
Regardless of what was asked of them, the cast was willing to give almost anything a try. Paul explains, “Once I met Lance and learned that he was a third-generation stuntman and our stunt coordinator on the film, I knew we were in great hands. It’s not just a job to these guys … it’s a journey that they’re all on together and I trust all of them.”
Prep time on the production was one of the most challenging aspects, as filmmakers needed to test and fine-tune all cars, stunts and stunt drivers and train the cast who would be driving. Obviously stunt work is incredibly dangerous when not executed properly, but strict rules were followed throughout principal photography so every stunt was carried out with the utmost safety and precaution.
Lance Gilbert continues, “The movie is all about high-speed driving, so we put all our efforts into prepping the vehicles in the beginning to make sure they were ready for the professional drivers, as these guys are the top dogs in their field.”
Poots had never driven a car prior to filming, and before she or any other actor stepped foot on set, all were given lessons in the basics of stunt driving. At Willow Springs Race Track in California’s high desert they learned the intricacies of racing cars including how to slide and drift around corners, do a reverse 180 and have the ability to hit precise marks (so as to not hit a camera while shooting), and a highly difficult rear wheel lock-up, among other things.
Paul explains, “Scott wanted us to learn the practicality of the maneuvers but also how to look cool when doing it.”
Ultimately it paid off. At one point during production the script calls for Paul to barrel towards a camera in a Koenigsegg, slam on the emergency brake, do a full 180-degree slide, and come to a stop just inches from the camera. “I did it,” says Paul, “and I felt what it was like to be Lance Gilbert or Scott Waugh. I felt like I was part of that family.”
Adds Lance Gilbert, “It’s really about your personal feel with the car and just letting the car do the work while realizing you’re just the guy making it do what it needs to do. And Aaron definitely feels it, knows it and understands it.”
For one stunt during The De Leon, a super car, the Saleen S7, hits the back of an SUV police vehicle, flipping it over. The effect was created by installing a switch on the undercarriage of the SUV which, when triggered, fired a canon which propelled the flip. Another scene called for the Mustang to jump over a large span in downtown Detroit.
Waugh continues, “I didn’t want to launch the car 80 feet in the air and have it travel the length of a football field because it just wasn’t plausible. In reality the car would be damaged and unable to land and drive away, as called for in the script.”
The stunt, known as the “Grasshopper,” was executed in Detroit by building a ramp on one side of a heavily trafficked three-lane street with the landing zone in a small park on the other side. As the stunt needed to be done practically this required a stunt driver, Troy Gilbert, to actually make the leap. Troy’s jump was a tribute in a way to a similar stunt Mickey Gilbert and Fred Waugh performed 35 years earlier in the film “Our Winning Season” (1978). In that film the duo jumped a car through a drive-in movie screen, and on “Need for Speed” Troy actually bested the jump by flying 160 feet through the air and landing safely.
Training the actors to drive The Beast, which Joe Peck and Finn drive on the cross-country trek to The De Leon, also presented a challenge. The Beast is a truck that is higher, wider and longer than most, so the two actors spent a considerable amount of time behind the wheel getting used to the feel. At one point Finn had to climb out the window of the Beast at 65 miles per hour, but was safely harnessed the entire time.
The biggest chase scene in the film is The De Leon ending at Lighthouse Road in Mendocino, California, for which logistics were anything but simple. Road permits, uneven and unpaved roads, seals on the beach, and migrating birds were just a few of the obstacles production faced. The driving was done by Foust doubling for Paul in a Koenigsegg equipped with a pod and Millen doubling for Cooper in a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento with Rutherford, Brakohiapa, Fletcher and Dallenbach manning the other vehicles.
“As a stunt driver there’s no better way to work than doing it for real,” says Foust, “because when you finally see it on screen you’re really proud of it.”
In addition to the enormous amount of stunt work required on the ground there were also a great deal in the air. Benny flies a number of different aircraft throughout the film, including a two-seater Cessna and Apache and Sikorsky helicopters. Aerial Coordinator Craig Hosking (“Noah”) served as Benny’s stunt pilot, but Mescudi trained and eventually flew by himself at several points.
While the idea alone would frighten most people, Mescudi saw it as a challenge and wanted to make it look as real as possible. Hosking piloted the actual take-offs and landings, but the shots in the air of Benny steering and doing all the maneuvers are all Mescudi.
“When I first found out I had to fly a Cessna I was scared out of my mind,” Mescudi says, “But I trust Scott and he made me feel really comfortable. I had never been in a helicopter before and while it did take some getting used to, it was really a lot of fun.”
In one scene Benny steals a news helicopter, flying it at street level throughout downtown Detroit with Tobey and Julia in the Mustang behind him. To make sure the audience knew that Benny was really in the helicopter, Waugh strapped a camera to himself and flew standing on the skids of the helicopter to get the viewpoint from the windshield.
Waugh laughs, “I like to challenge myself to make sure everything is done practically because I think audiences will know if it’s not.”
Mescudi continues, “It was intense, but it actually did enhance my performance.”
The filmmakers had one overriding goal when shooting the film: putting the audience inside the car, riding shotgun. On set this came to be known as the Steve McQueen style of filmmaking, a reference to scenes in his films where a car would pull up right next to the camera so you could tell it was Steve McQueen in the driver’s seat. This was similar to the look and feel the filmmakers were going for in “Need for Speed.”
Waugh needed a cinematographer willing to take risks and try new things, and after working with Shane Hurlbut on “Act of Valor,” he knew he was the man for the job. Together they set out to find the best cameras for shooting the difficult racing and chase sequences and ended up testing nine. Other issues that needed to be taken into consideration were the portability of the cameras and the complex rigging required for the moving and camera cars so they could keep up with the picture cars.
“It’s really complicated to shoot in a car,” says Waugh. “You’re just so confined. So we made sure that all the camera angles would convince the audience that the actors were really driving.”
Traditionally the first unit shoots anything with dialogue and actors and a second unit shoots the stunts, but on “Need for Speed” both units were shot simultaneously. Waugh confesses, “I have a hard time delegating because I like doing everything myself.”
“With my style of filmmaking I wanted to do both,” he continues. “So the actors had to get used to seeing me do a massive wreck or stunt in the midst of filming their dialogue. Normally they wouldn’t be anywhere in the vicinity but I think being in the midst of the chaos feeds their performance.”
“It was really liberating,” says Hurlbut, “because we were able to position the cameras exactly where Scott and I wanted them.”
It was decided early on to shoot on digital which has revolutionized aspects of action cinematography by providing the most options for placement of the cameras. The end result is incredibly visceral footage from angles of the car never before seen.
Over 40 different cameras were selected for use during principal photography, including the Canon C500, the ARRI ALEXA, the Novo, the GoPro, the Canon 1D C helmet cam and a variety of steadicams, hand-held cameras and dashboard cameras. The C500 was used for most of the film, however, including night interiors on every car and all stage work, as it gave the filmmakers the look they wanted.
Lance Gilbert explains, “Depending on the kind of footage we were looking for, the best stabilization or the best vibration, we used a number of different platforms. Everything from handheld and bungee mounts inside the cars to cranes with hard mounts to super cars with slider rigs.”
They were also able to leapfrog from one small camera platform to the next.
The camera cars worked when shooting at a car but not when shooting actors in the car delivering their lines. Car mounts were placed on the cars with camera operators sitting on a platform outside the cars as they drove and all the cars had receivers welded onto the frames so cameras could be mounted anywhere.
Hurlbut adds, “The car mounts were so important in this film because they really put the audience right in the driver’s seat and right in the middle of these high-speed chases, races and accidents.”
Production on “Need for Speed” commenced in April 2013 in Mendocino County, California, and while the filmmakers were busy mapping out stunt logistics and testing cameras, they were also preparing for the large amount of location work the film required. Unfortunately this meant a war against time, storms and fog and cars breaking down.
The production ended up moving across the country beginning on the West Coast in Northern California. Up first to shoot were the final climactic scenes at The De Leon where the production filmed the six specially constructed super cars attaining speeds of nearly 120 miles per hour on highways north of Pt. Arena, California.
The final shot was at the Pt. Arena Lighthouse, and both locations made excellent use of the picturesque windy roads. “Those roads are the ultimate race course,” says Waugh.
Next the production moved to San Francisco and locations including the Embarcadero and Nob Hill. Coincidentally one of the greatest car movies of all time, “Bullitt,” was shot at Nob Hill as well.
Two months in Georgia followed, where downtown Macon stood in for Mt. Kisco, New York and the film’s opening race sequence. Additional Mt. Kisco scenes were shot in Stone Mountain, where production transformed an existing auto body shop into Marshall Motors. In Fairburn the racing scenes with Tobey, Dino and Little Pete in the three Koenigseggs were shot at the 13th St. Bridge across the Chattahoochee River.
The final two days of principal photography in Georgia took place in Blue Ridge with its Swan Drive-In Theatre filling in for the Mt. Kisco Drive-In, where 100 car collectors from surrounding states showed up with their classic American cars which were used in the film.
“For the Mt. Kisco Drive-In scene I wanted it to feel like it was that old Americana in the ’50s and ’60s when drive-ins were cool and everybody brought their cars so people could check them out,” says Waugh.
Detroit was the next stop, with the city playing itself for the chase scenes with Tobey and Julia in the Mustang, Joe Peck and Finn in The Beast, and Benny in the helicopter. Stunt driver and nine-time Formula Drift champion Samuel Hubinette doubled for Paul, racing around the CompuServe headquarters and through the streets of downtown.
Waugh admits going through Detroit is not the fastest way to get from coast to coast (Chicago is actually), but he felt the Mustang needed to be seen in Detroit at some point.
“This is the town where car culture and the Mustang were born and I wanted to honor that,” he says. “Plus photographically the city is unbelievable.”
On weekends when downtown was virtually dead, production took advantage of the empty streets to film helicopter pilot Hosking flying the craft mere feet above Brush Avenue to simulate Benny on the tail of the Mustang. In order to get the best, most exciting footage for this, Waugh harnessed himself outside the helicopter and stood on the skids to operate the camera.
As the film was nearing the end of principal photography, the production moved to its final locations in Utah. At Fossil Point overlooking the Colorado River, the cliffs made famous in “Thelma and Louise” were used for the scene where a U.S. Army Sikorsky helicopter co-opted by Benny picks up the Mustang and lifts it over the edge of the cliff. The second half of the scene where the Mustang sets down was filmed at the Bonneville Salt Flats on the last day of production, a fitting location to wrap principal photography.
“The Bonneville Salt Flats, like Detroit, are emblematic of the car culture as it represents pure speed,” says Waugh. “Five major speed events for cars, trucks and motorcycles take place there, and most land speed records have been broken there.”
Additional scenes were shot in Moab, Utah, the site where Tobey and Julia flee the Hummer dispatched by Dino and the Hummer’s subsequent crash. For that stunt a crane was used to force the vehicle up in the air to make it appear as if it had smashed into the sheer walls bordering the highway.
With “Need for Speed” Waugh’s ultimate goal is for the audience to feel they’ve entered a world they could never be a part of and actually become a part of it.
“This is an epic journey that these kids go on, and hopefully everyone will leave the theater tired and wet from sweating,” Waugh says.
AARON PAUL’s (Tobey Marshall) acclaimed performance as Jesse Pinkman in the AMC drama “Breaking Bad” earned him 2010 and 2012 Emmy Awards® for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
Paul recently completed filming “Exodus” for director Ridley Scott and 20th Century Fox. He stars opposite Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton and Ben Kingsley in the biblical epic based on the life and times of Moses. “Exodus” is slated for release in December 2014. Additionally in 2014, Paul will be seen in “A Long Way Down,” which is based on the British novel. The film tells the story of four people who meet on New Year’s Eve and form a surrogate family to help one another through their difficult lives.
Paul’s additional credits include the Sony Pictures Classics drama “Smashed,” the hit film “Mission Impossible III,” “Decoding Annie Parker,” which is based on a true story, the horror film “The Last House on the Left,” and the critically acclaimed HBO drama, “Big Love.”
When he’s not busy acting, Paul is actively involved as an advocate for the KIND Campaign. Founded by Aaron’s wife, Lauren, the KIND Campaign is a non-profit organization that seeks to raise awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl crime and bullying.
Paul currently resides in Los Angeles.
DOMINIC COOPER (Dino Brewster) has worked extensively on television as well as feature films and theater. His motion picture credits include starring roles in “The Devil’s Double” and “The Duchess.” His other film credits include “Summer in February,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” Lone Scherfig's “An Education,” “Tamara Drewe” and “Mamma Mia!”
On television he played Willoughby in “Sense and Sensibility” and he has also been seen in “Freefall.”
On stage, Cooper played opposite Helen Mirren in “Phedre” at the National Theatre, as well as Dakin in “The History Boys”; a role he also played in the radio and film adaptations. He has just completed filming on “Dracula Year Zero” and will soon be seen as Ian Fleming in the four-part miniseries, “Fleming,” due to air on Sky Atlantic and BBC America in early 2014.
IMOGEN POOTS (Julia Maddon) recently wrapped production on Peter Bogdanovich’s “Squirrels to the Nuts,” produced by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach. Starring opposite Owen Wilson’s anxious director character, Poots plays the prostitute turned theater star with whom he falls in love. The cast also includes Jennifer Aniston, Kathryn Hahn, Cybill Shepherd and Richard Lewis.
Upcoming, Poots will be seen in Tom Gormican's romantic comedy “That Awkward Moment” starring opposite Zac Efron. She will also be seen in Terrence Malick's “Knight of Cups” with Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett; Irvine Welsh's “Filth,” a follow-up to “Trainspotting” with James McAvoy; John Ridley's “All Is by My Side” co-starring Hayley Atwell; Pascal Chaumeil's “A Long Way Down” with Aaron Paul, Pierce Brosnan and Toni Collette.
Since making her breakthrough performance as Tammy in Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's critically acclaimed film “28 Weeks Later,” Poots has continued to impress critics and audiences alike. Her other film credits include Craig Gillespie's “Fright Night,” opposite Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin; Cary Fukunaga's “Jane Eyre” alongside Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender; “Chatroom” with Aaron Johnson; Neil Marshall's “Centurion” with Michael Fassbender; “Waking Madison” opposite Elisabeth Shue, Sarah Roemer and Frances Conroy; “Solitary Man” with Michael Douglas and Susan Sarandon; “Cracks” with Juno Temple; Richard Linklater's “Me and Orson Welles” with Zac Efron and Christian McKay. Additionally, she appeared in Simon Aboud's “Comes a Bright Day,” alongside Craig Roberts, Kevin McKidd and Timothy Spall; Yaron Zilberman's “A Late Quartet” alongside Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Mark Ivanir; Daniel Algrant's “Greetings from Tim Buckley” opposite Penn Badgley; as well as Michael Winterbottom's “The Look of Love,” co-starring opposite Steve Coogan and Tamsin Egerton.
In addition to feature films, Poots’ television credits include BBC's “Miss Austen Regrets” as Fanny Knight, ITV's “Bouquet of Barbed Wire” as Prue Sorenson, and BBC's “Christopher and His Kind” as Jean Ross.
RAMON RODRIGUEZ (Joe Peck) is currently in production filming the lead role in Fox’s highly anticipated new one-hour drama “Gang Related” which will premiere in 2014. Ramon stars as Ryan Lopez, a gang member who infiltrates the LAPD and rises through the ranks, balancing his obligations to his crime family with his new one among the LAPD’s Gang Task Force.
Born and raised in the Lower East Side of New York City, Rodriguez started his career appearing in Nike commercials. Guest-starring television appearances on shows like “Law & Order: SVU” and “Rescue Me” soon followed. He appeared in New Line’s “Pride and Glory” with Edward Norton and Colin Farrell and in “Surfer, Dude” with Matthew McConaughey. He then co-starred in the independent film “Bella,” which won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival, and on the critically acclaimed HBO series “The Wire,” which allowed Rodriguez to act alongside the memorable character of Omar as his love interest Renaldo in Seasons 4 and 5.
Rodriguez then co-starred in several major blockbuster films including “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” in which he played tech guru conspiracy theorist Leo Spitz alongside Shia LaBeouf; in Tony Scott’s “The Taking of Pelham 123” with Denzel Washington in which he played an MTA dispatcher; and in “Battle Los Angeles” with Aaron Eckhart as the ambitious but inexperienced Lieutenant Martinez.
Rodriguez is also busy writing a screenplay with Rosie Perez. He plans to direct and produce the film, “Only for My Son,” with Perez.
MICHAEL KEATON (The Monarch) first gained national attention in the hit comedy “Night Shift,” followed by starring roles in such films as “Mr. Mom,” “Johnny Dangerously” and “Dream Team.”
In 1998, he earned the best actor award from the National Society of Film Critics for “Clean and Sober” and Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice.” Keaton re-teamed with Burton to play the title role in the blockbusters “Batman” and “Batman Returns.”
Keaton starred as Robert Weiner in HBO’s critically acclaimed “Live from Baghdad,” based on a true story of the CNN crew who reported from Baghdad during the Gulf War. Keaton received a Golden Globe® nomination for his performance.
Keaton also starred in “Game Six,” a story centered on the historic Game Six of the 1986 World Series, Mets vs. The Boston Red Sox. In addition, he has completed the feature film “The Last Time” as well as a starring role in the TNT miniseries “The Company,” a dramatic story of how the CIA operated during the Cold War.
In 2007, Michael Keaton made his directorial debut and also starred in the drama “The Merry Gentleman.” The Sundance Film Festival accepted the film for 2008. In 2009, Keaton co-starred in the Fox comedy “Post Grad.”
Keaton was the voice of Ken in “Toy Story 3.” He also co-starred in the comedy feature “The Other Guys” with Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson for Columbia Pictures. He completed a starring role in the feature film “Penthouse North” and will also be seen featured in “RoboCop.” Keaton is currently filming “Birdman” with Naomi Watts, Edward Norton and Emma Stone.
RAMI MALEK (Finn) costarred in “Short Term 12,” which won the Grand Jury Award at the South by Southwest Festival. Prior to this, he costarred in the worldwide mega-hit “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.” He was previously best known as Merriell “Snafu” Shelton from HBO’s Emmy Award®-winning miniseries “The Pacific,” produced by the team of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. He also played the role of Pharaoh Ahkmenrah in the box-office smash hits “Night at the Museum” and “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.”
Following his star-making turn on “The Pacific,” Rami was cast in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, and Amy Adams. He was then cast in “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” a Sundance Award-winning independent film starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck. He was next seen in Spike Lee’s adaptation of the acclaimed Korean thriller “Oldboy.”
A graduate from the University of Evansville, Malek spent many years working in regional and off-Broadway theatres before moving back to his hometown of Los Angeles in 2004. His first audition was his first job on the WB’s “The Gilmore Girls.” Soon afterwards, he landed a recurring role on Steven Bochco’s acclaimed FX series “Over There” as Hassan, an Iraqi prisoner. Rami’s edgy performance led him to a role on NBC’s “Medium,” where he played an aggressive and dangerous incarcerated youth with multiple personalities. After these two dramatic roles, Rami showed his comedic skills as a series regular on the sitcom, “The War at Home.” Later, he enjoyed a recurring arc on the final season of the hit series “24” as Marcos, a suspected suicide bomber, and then embodied a disturbing murderer-violinist on J.J. Abrams’ “Alcatraz.” He will re-team with Abrams this spring on NBC’s “Believe,” created by Alfonso Cuarón.
SCOTT MESCUDI (Benny) grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. A multi-talented rapper, singer-songwriter, guitarist, record producer and actor, he moved to New York City in October 2004. There, he became heavily involved in the MC scene until he was inspired to write "Day N Nite." After posting the song on MySpace, it started racking up hits and eventually caught the attention of A-Trak, Kanye West's former tour DJ.
A-Trak signed Mescudi to a single deal on his Fool's Gold label. A critically acclaimed mixtape titled "A KiD Named CuDi," presented by Pat and Emile and co-branded with NYC streetwear label 10 Deep, was released on July 17, 2008. A-Trak played "Day N Nite" at Kanye West's "Stronger" premiere party. West loved the song, and saw enough potential in Mescudi that he flew him to Hawaii to do reference hooks for Jay-Z's “The Blueprint 3.” Mescudi then began working on West’s “808s & Heartbreak” album, for which he wrote four songs (“Heartless,” “Paranoid,” “Welcome to Heartbreak” and “Robocop”). With "Day N Nite" a Billboard hit, Mescudi signed with West’s G.O.O.D music label. Soon after, he parlayed that into a major deal with Universal Motown.
On September 15, 2009, he released his debut album “Man on the Moon: The End of Day,” a genre-bending concept album that took people through Scott Mescudi's dreams, nightmares and unique views of the world. The album — which featured production from Emile, Plain Pat, RATATAT, MGMT and Kanye West — sold 104,419 copies during its first week, which placed it at #4 on the Billboard charts.
To date, Mescudi has sold over 4.6 million digital singles and 1.3 million mobile tones. As of August 2013, Mescudi's videos on VEVO have had over 200 million views. In addition to being sought after for his music, top-tier companies including Converse and Heineken have hired him to appear in their ad campaigns for "3 Artists, 1 Song" and "Plug Into Summer."
After his debut album was released, he set off on a sold-out tour with Asher Roth ("The Great Hangover Tour") and appeared as the main attraction at festivals including Audiotistic and Bonnaroo, while simultaneously prepping his sophomore album, “Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager.” The highly acclaimed album, which was released November 9, 2010 through G.O.O.D Music and Universal Motown, featured Kanye West, Mary J. Blige and GLC, with production from Emile, Plain Pat, Jim Jonsin, Diplo, Dot Da Genius and others. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and produced the hit single “Erase Me,” which features Kanye West. It was quickly certified gold.
In 2012, Mescudi began his foray into the world of rock music under the moniker WZRD, a band composed of him and producer Dot Da Genius. Released to much acclaim in February of that year, their self-titled album debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. In April 2013, he released his highly anticipated third studio album “Indicud.” Released to critical praise, with guest appearances from Kendrick Lamar, RZA and ASAP Rocky, the album became his highest charting yet, debuting at #2 on Billboard’s Top 200.
Also in 2010, Scott Mescudi began his Hollywood career when he was cast as Domingo Dean, a young, New York, street-smart entrepreneur on the acclaimed HBO comedy-drama, “How to Make It in America.” Mescudi also starred in Denis Hennelly’s film “Goodbye World” with Adrian Grenier, Mark Webber and Gaby Hoffman. The movie premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival this past summer and will be distributed by Samuel Goldwyn and Phase 4 Films. He also has a starring role in the upcoming film “Two Night Stand,” directed by Max Nichols (son of the legendary Mike Nichols). This comedy also stars Miles Teller, Analeigh Tipton, Jessica Szohr and Leven Rambin, and is produced by Ruben Fleischer and Beau Flynn.
DAKOTA JOHNSON (Anita) is one of Hollywood's rising stars, most recently landing the coveted lead role of Anastasia Steele in the feature adaptation of E.L. James’ novel “50 Shades of Grey.”
Additionally, she recently wrapped production on Michael Almereyda’s Shakespearian drama “Cymbeline,” starring alongside Ethan Hawke, Anton Yelchin and Milla Jovovich.
After her critically acclaimed performance in David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin's feature “The Social Network,” Johnson went on to play roles in the motion picture comedies “The Five-Year Engagement,” starring opposite Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, and Sony’s “21 Jump Street” starring opposite Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. She had two films premiere in dramatic competition at Sundance: the first being “Goats,” opposite Vera Farmiga, David Duchovny and Minnie Driver, and “For Ellen,” opposite Paul Dano.
On television, Johnson starred in the lead role of FOX’s primetime single-camera ensemble comedy series “Ben and Kate” with Nat Faxon.
Johnson made her acting debut in Columbia Pictures’ “Crazy in Alabama,” where she starred alongside Melanie Griffith. The film was directed by Antonio Banderas and written by Mark Childress. Johnson also had the honor of being crowned Miss Golden Globe at the 2006 Golden Globe® Awards.
HARRISON GILBERTSON (Little Pete) won the Best Young Actor Award at the 2010 AFI Awards (Australia’s equivalent of the Oscars®) for his performance in Paramount Australia’s war drama, “Beneath Hill 60.” In 2012, he appeared as the co-lead, opposite Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris, in “Virginia,” directed by Dustin Lance Black and executive produced by Gus Van Sant. He will soon start production on “Fallen,” as one of the lead characters, Cam. The film is based on Lauren Kate’s best-selling series, which will also star Jeremy Irvine and Addison Timlin.
Gilbertson most recently starred on the Australian TV Series “Conspiracy 365,” adapted from the best-selling novels by Australian author Gabrielle Lord. The series follows a year in the life of teenager Cal Ormond (Gilbertson), who is forced to go on the run and become a fugitive as he searches for the truth behind a deadly family secret.
His other credits include “Accidents Happen” opposite Geena Davis, which premiered at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, and “Blessed,” opposite Deborra-Lee Furness, Frances O’Connor and Miranda Otto.
Gilbertson will next star in several projects, including “Haunt,” also starring Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver and directed by Mac Carter; and two Australian features: the lead role in “My Mistress” and “Boys in the Trees.”
SCOTT WAUGH (Director/Executive Producer/Edited by) is the son of the original Spiderman, Fred Waugh. Scott was drawn to filmmaking at a young age. Since earning a B.F.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara, he has worked as a producer, director, editor, cameraman and stuntman. In 2006, he co-founded Bandito Brothers, a full-service studio that creates, produces, manages and distributes authentic, high-octane and immersive audio-visual content, with his business partner Mouse McCoy. In January 2012, Variety named him one of its “10 Directors to Watch.”
Waugh’s feature film directorial debut, “Act of Valor,” which Relativity Media released in February 2012, opened #1 at the U.S. box office and went on to gross more than $80 million worldwide. The film was an unprecedented blend of real-life heroism and original filmmaking, starring a group of active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs, alongside actors Roselyn Sanchez, Alex Veadov, Jason Cottle and Nestor Serrano.
As a commercial director, Waugh’s niche is showcasing human stories within incredible action. He has worked with three of the five U.S. military branches: the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Waugh developed advertising media with Electronic Arts for their games “Battlefield 3” and “Medal of Honor,” and has also worked with other well-established brands such as Ford, Mountain Dew, BFGoodrich, NASCAR and the NHL.
As a producer, Waugh focuses on inspirational and entertaining films that are fast-paced and full of excitement, exhibited by his box-office successes “Step Into Liquid,” “Dust to Glory” and “Waiting for Lightning.” “Step Into Liquid” received the Audience Award at the Maui Film Festival, the Seville Film Festival and the Whistler Film Festival, and “Dust to Glory” received Best Action Film of the Year by Men's Journal.
Waugh became a stuntman in 1982 and retired in 2005. He has been involved in more than 150 film and television productions in various capacities and gained his first-hand filmmaking knowledge from directors Michael Mann, Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone while on their sets.
In addition to his film credits, Waugh was the president of Stunts Unlimited for three years, the most prestigious stunt organization in the world. During his tenure, Stunts Unlimited was involved in such box-office hits as “Spider-Man,” “Talladega Nights,” “24” and “Bad Boys II.” Under Waugh’s leadership, Stunts Unlimited received three consecutive Emmy® Awards for Best Stunt Coordinator.
Augmenting his success as a filmmaker and business executive, Waugh collaborated with his father to invent the 35mm helmet camera and an innovative handheld camera called the Pogo Cam. Designed to place the audience in the action, the Pogo Cam produces a dynamic and vibrant viewing experience. Waugh has operated the Pogo Cam on over 30 productions, including the hockey sequences in Disney's “Miracle.”
PATRICK O'BRIEN (Producer) is vice president, EA Entertainment, for Electronic Arts, the leading interactive videogame company.
In this role, O’Brien is responsible for EA's emerging film, web series, publishing and licensing endeavors around the world.
In addition to “Need for Speed,” EA also has film projects in development for a number of its other franchises, including “Dead Space,” “Mass Effect” and “Dante’s Inferno.”
Prior to joining EA in 1997, O’Brien started his career as an entertainment lawyer at O'Melveny and Myers in Century City. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1990.
O’Brien is married to Dr. Kathryn Beyrer and they have two sons.
JOHN GATINS (Producer/Story by) is an Oscar®-nominated screenwriter. A native New Yorker, where his father was a New York City police officer, the family relocated to the Hudson Valley, near Poughkeepsie. John grew up there and later attended Vassar College, graduating as a Drama major.
After Vassar, Gatins drove to Los Angeles where he began acting roles in horror movies including “Witchboard 2” and “Leprechaun 3.” He went to New York Stage and Film’s summer theater program in 1994 and after a summer of classes and performing he returned to Los Angeles and wrote a screenplay called “Smells Like Teen Suicide.” He sold that script to Disney and it served as a calling card and helped him secure the job of doing uncredited rewrite work on “Varsity Blues” for Paramount Pictures.
Gatins then began writing a spec script about an alcoholic commercial airline pilot. He was able to get through the first 30 pages before shelving it and returning to paying work. Paramount hired him to write the Keanu Reeves inner-city baseball movie, “Hardball,” which he received screenplay credit on.
Paramount remained a home base as he wrote the Samuel Jackson basketball movie, “Coach Carter.” It was at this time that he was contacted by then Warner Bros. president Lorenzo DiBonaventura to see if he had designs on directing a movie. Gatins promptly pitched him an idea about a broken-down racehorse trainer and his fractured relationship with his son. Gatins ultimately wrote and directed “Dreamer” for DreamWorks Pictures with Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning playing the leads.
DreamWorks was interested in getting Gatins to direct another film for them and he showed the execs the first 30 pages of the alcoholic airline pilot script, now known as “Flight.” They made a script deal with him to finish a first draft of his long-percolating idea. DreamWorks brought Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald on to produce.
Gatins was next asked by Steven Spielberg to rewrite a film based in part on a sci-fi story by Richard Matheson called “Steel.” That script became “Real Steel” which grossed $300 million worldwide. Gatins was also able to secure a fun acting role for himself in the film when he played Kingpin, the Mohawk-wearing sociopath that accepts a fight with the hero robot.
After “Real Steel” wrapped he was back to refining the script for “Flight,” which went into production starring Denzel Washington and directed by Robert Zemeckis. The film earned Gatins nominations for an Academy Award®, a Critic’s Choice Award, and a Writer’s Guild Award. Denzel Washington also received nominations for an Academy Award, a Critic’s Choice Award, a Golden Globe® and a SAG® Award.
Gatins lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.
MARK SOURIAN (Producer) began his career as the assistant to Scott Rudin. He joined DreamWorks in 1997 as a development assistant and rose to the rank of co-president.
He has shepherded projects such as the box-office smash “The Ring” and its sequel “The Ring 2,” the Academy Award®-nominated film “House of Sand and Fog,” “Red Eye,” “The Kite Runner” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”
In addition, Sourian was also the executive producer who oversaw the hit comedy, “I Love You, Man,” and most recently, “Delivery Man.”
STUART BESSER (Executive Producer) was previously an executive producer on “Bullet to the Head,” “Big Miracle,” “The Losers” and “3:10 to Yuma.”
The New York native first collaborated extensively with director/writer Alan Rudolph, working as associate producer on such films as “Trouble in Mind,” “Made in Heaven,” “The Moderns” and “Love at Large.” He went on to produce “People Under the Stairs” and “Dr. Giggles,” and was line producer on Michael Moore’s comedy “Canadian Bacon.”
Among Besser’s many credits as co-producer are such films as: “Vampire in Brooklyn,” “Scream,” “Finding Graceland,” “Music of the Heart,” “40 Days and 40 Nights” and “Delivering Milo.” He also was executive producer on “The Sweetest Thing,” “Scream 3,” “Identity,” “Cursed” and “The Break-Up,” served as associate producer on director Lindsay Anderson’s “The Whales of August,” and supervising producer on “The Verne Miller Story.”
For television, Besser produced pilots for the series “Men in Trees” and “Wasteland” as well as produced the television films “Hollyweird TV” and “Laurel Canyon.” He also was associate producer on the pilot for the long-running series “Beverly Hills 90210” and served as consulting producer for the HBO documentary about the Rolling Stones, “Crossfire Hurricane,” which was nominated for a 2013 Emmy® Award.
MAX LEITMAN (Executive Producer) is Chief Operating Officer of Bandito Brothers, a full-service media company that creates and produces cutting-edge content at its state-of-the-art facility in Los Angeles. Studios, networks, brands, and agencies rely time and again on Mr. Leitman and Bandito to execute forward-thinking and radical solutions for the increasingly interconnected worlds of film, television and digital content. Some of Mr. Leitman's credits include “Act of Valor” (executive producer), “Waiting for Lightning” (producer), and “Chop Shop” (executive producer).
Prior to his current role, Mr. Leitman practiced law at some of the most prestigious firms in Los Angeles and New York. He began his career in Los Angeles at Irell & Manella LLP. There, he joined the Corporate and IP Transactional work groups, representing such clients as Paramount Studios, AOL, Charter Communications, and Mattel. Mr. Leitman focused on the complex licensing, financing, and acquisitive transactions for media and entertainment and found himself drawn to the world of large corporate transactions. From Irell, he moved on to accept a position with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP in New York, a firm that has been consistently ranked as the best corporate law firm in America by “The American Lawyer” magazine. While at Skadden, Mr. Leitman focused exclusively on mergers and acquisitions for both public and private companies working on deals valued at over $1 billion in the aggregate.
Mr. Leitman received his B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.
FRANK GIBEAU (Executive Producer) is the executive vice president of EA Mobile, where he leads EA’s strategy, development and publishing for the fast-growing mobile games platforms. Mr. Gibeau manages EA’s portfolio of popular mobile franchises for iOS, Android and other platforms, including “The Simpsons: Tapped Out,” “Plants vs. Zombies,” “Real Racing,” “Bejeweled” and “The Sims.” He also oversees development of new mobile IP, as well as the Chillingo publishing operation for independent mobile developers.
Mr. Gibeau’s previous role was president of EA Labels, where he oversaw IP development, worldwide product management, and marketing for major console and PC properties, including “Battlefield,” “FIFA,” “Madden NFL,” “Need for Speed,” “SimCity,” “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” “The Sims” and more. Prior to that role, Mr. Gibeau served a four-year tenure as president of the EA Games Label. During that period, Mr. Gibeau led a turn-around that greatly increased product quality and on-time delivery while dramatically driving down costs. In over 20 years with EA, Mr. Gibeau has held various additional roles across the company’s product marketing and publishing teams.
Mr. Gibeau sits on the board of directors of Cooliris, an Internet technology company that develops award-winning browser and advertising technology. He is also a two-time winner of The Sports Business Journal’s “Forty under Forty” Sports Executives (2006 & 2007) and one of Advertising Age’s 2004 Entertainment Marketers of the Year.
Mr. Gibeau received a B.S. degree from the University of Southern California and an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University. He lives in Atherton, California, with his wife Solveig and their three children.
PATRICK SÖDERLUND (Executive Producer) is the executive vice president of EA Studios where he is responsible for console and PC development for some of the most popular games in the industry, including “Battlefield,” “Need for Speed,” the “EA SPORTS portfolio,” “Dead Space” and “Dragon Age.” Mr. Söderlund leads EA development teams from studio locations around the globe including Redwood Shores (California), Stockholm (Sweden), Burnaby (British Columbia), Orlando (Florida), Austin (Texas), Gothenburg (Sweden), Edmonton (Alberta), Guildford (UK), Montreal (Quebec) and more. He also oversees relationships with EA Partners development studios, including Respawn Entertainment.
Prior to his current role, Mr. Söderlund served as the executive vice president of the EA Games Label, where he oversaw operations for all EA Games studios, including DICE, Criterion, BioWare and Visceral. Prior to that role, he oversaw EA Games Europe. He is a founder of DICE, where he grew the studio from a small team to one of the most successful game developers in the world. The studio was sold to EA in October of 2006.
Mr. Söderlund lives with his wife, two daughters and dog just outside Stockholm. He previously has played for Sweden’s national volleyball team, and he enjoys racing cars.
TIM MOORE (Executive Producer) is currently serving as executive producer on the big-screen version of the Tony® Award-winning musical “Jersey Boys,” being directed by Clint Eastwood, with whom Moore has had a long association. He recently executive produced “Trouble with the Curve,” starring Eastwood, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake, which marked Rob Lorenz’s directorial debut.
Moore’s collaborations with other directors include Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” which he produced with Jolie, Graham King and Tim Headington. The film, which Jolie also wrote, received a Golden Globe® nomination for Best Foreign Language film, the Stanley Kramer Award from the Producers Guild, and the Best Foreign Film Award at the NAACP Image Awards.
Moore has overseen the physical production of all of Clint Eastwood’s films since 2002. In 2009, he executive produced the critically acclaimed drama “Invictus,” starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman, which received widespread acclaim and honors from critics organizations, as well as Oscar® and Golden Globe nominations, including a Golden Globe nod for Best Picture – Drama.
In addition, Moore was an executive producer on Eastwood’s “J. Edgar,” “Hereafter,” “Gran Torino” and “Changeling,” and served as co-producer on the dual World War II epics “Flags of Our Fathers” and the award-winning “Letters from Iwo Jima,” which was Oscar®-nominated for Best Picture. His work with the director also includes the dramas “Mystic River,” which earned six Oscar® nominations, including one for Best Picture, and “Million Dollar Baby,” which won four Academy Awards®, including Best Picture. He was also a co-producer on Alison Eastwood’s directorial debut, “Rails & Ties.”
Moore’s other producing credits include Steve Buscemi’s “Animal Factory,” starring Willem Dafoe, and Arne Glimcher’s “The White River Kid.” For television, Moore was the production manager on the telefilm “Semper Fi” and produced the telefilm “Stolen from the Heart.”
Before starting his film career, Moore attended UCLA, where he met fraternity brother John Shepherd. The two went on to produce four independent features together: “Eye of the Storm,” “The Ride,” “The Climb” and Rowdy Herrington’s ESPY-nominated biopic “Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius.” Moore had earlier collaborated with Herrington on the films “A Murder of Crows,” “Road House” and “Jack’s Back.”
Moore and his wife, Bobbe, are actively engaged in a number of animal rescue organizations.
GEORGE GATINS (Screenplay by/Story by) was born in the Bronx and grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York. He has a B.S. in engineering from Alfred University.
After college Gatins spent a number of years in New York working in the fashion industry and playing drums in several bands before moving to Los Angeles to start a new career in entertainment. He worked as a film executive and producer for a number of years including executive producer on “She's Out of My League.”
“Need for Speed” is his first writing credit. He is grateful to his brother, John, for championing him as a writer. George and his wife Sydney were married in 2006. They have a daughter named Rose.
SHANE HURLBUT, ASC (Director of Photography), is an acclaimed cinematographer with extensive feature and commercial credits, including Scott Waugh’s “Act of Valor,” as well as “Terminator Salvation, “ “We Are Marshall” and “Into the Blue.” His small-screen credits include episodes of HBO’s “Big Love” and “Deadwood” as well as the telefilm “The Rat Pack,” for which he received an ASC Award nomination. Hurlbut has shot ads for Visa, Coca-Cola, Verizon and American Express. He has also collaborated with music legends the Rolling Stones, Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins.
Hurlbut graduated from Emerson College with a bachelor of arts in film. He was a successful commercial DP prior to shooting his first feature project, HBO’s “The Rat Pack,” for director Rob Cohen. The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) nominated the film for Best Cinematography in the TV category.
Since then, Hurlbut has collaborated with noted filmmakers such as McG, John Stockwell and Charles Stone III. In addition to Stone’s features “Drumline” and “Mr. 3000,” Hurlbut shot the director’s “True Vote” PSA, the winner of a Cannes Lion 2009 Special Jury Commendation. Hurlbut launched his own directing career with webisodes for “Terminator Salvation” and work for the U.S. Navy.
A progenitor of digital filmmaking, Hurlbut was one of the first cinematographers chosen by Canon as an Explorer of Light (EOL) for his trail-blazing use of the Canon 5D, 7D and 1D cameras. Hurlbut recently completed “The Last 3 Minutes,” a Canon-sponsored short that screened at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show.
Immediately following his work on “Need for Speed” JON HUTMAN (Production Designer) served as the production designer on “Unbroken,” which marked his second collaboration with director Angelina Jolie. Hutman served as production designer for her directorial debut, “In The Land of Blood and Honey,” in 2011. The pair professionally met the year before when he designed “The Tourist” in which she starred with Johnny Depp.
Hutman has collaborated four times with writer/director Nancy Meyers on the films “What Women Want,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” “The Holiday” and “It’s Complicated.” He was the production designer on “Rock of Ages,” the heavy metal musical directed by Adam Shankman. On television, he was honored with both an Emmy® Award and an Art Directors Guild Award for his design on the pilot episode of “The West Wing.” Hutman also produced and directed the series “Gideon’s Crossing.”
For director Lawrence Kasdan, he served as production designer and co-producer of “Dreamcatcher” and “Mumford”; production designer on “French Kiss” and art director on “I Love You to Death.”
Hutman served as production designer for Robert Redford on “The Horse Whisperer,” “Quiz Show” and “A River Runs Through It,” and on Sydney Pollack’s “The Interpreter.” Hutman’s other feature credits include “The Interpreter,” “Coyote Ugly,” Adrian Lyne’s “Lolita,” “Nell,” “Flesh and Bone,” “Taking Care of Business,” “Trespass,” “Meet the Applegates” and “Little Man Tate.” His earned his first credit as a feature production designer on the cult favorite “Heathers.”
Hutman earned a degree in architecture from Yale University where he also studied scenic design, painting and lighting at the university’s School of Drama. He returned to his native Los Angeles and entered the film industry as an assistant in the art department on “The Hotel New Hampshire” and then as a set dresser on “To Live and Die in L.A.” Hutman earned art director credits on “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” “Surrender” and “Worth Winning,” before moving up to design films on his own.
PAUL RUBELL, A.C.E. (Edited by), has been nominated for two Academy Awards® for films directed by Michael Mann. In 2000, he shared his nomination with William Goldenberg and David Rosenbloom for “The Insider” and in 2005, with Jim Miller for “Collateral.” Collaborations between Rubell and Mann also include “Public Enemies” and “Miami Vice.”
Recently, Rubell edited the feature films “Seventh Son,” “Battleship,” ”Thor” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” In 2013 he also served as additional editor on “The Avengers.”
His other film credits include “Hancock,” “Transformers,” “The Island,” “Peter Pan,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” “S1m0ne, “ “xXx,” “The Cell,” “Blade,” “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” “Ruby Cairo,” “The Stone Boy” and “The Final Terror.”
Rubell has extensive television movie credits and received Emmy Award® nominations for “Andersonville” and “My Name Is Bill W.,” sharing the honor with John Wright for the latter.
ELLEN MIROJNICK’s (Costume Designer) design talents have been seen in such diverse motion pictures as J.J. Abrams’ “Cloverfield,” “Solitary Man” starring Michael Douglas and Susan Sarandon, and the box-office hit “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” Her work was also featured in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” “G-Force,” Tony Scott’s thriller “Déjà Vu” and in “Killers.”
In 2013 she created the costumes for the HBO movie “Behind the Candelabra” starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh.
Mirojnick’s first feature film as costume designer was “French Quarter,” followed by the 1980 breakout hit “Fame,” on which she was assistant designer to Kristi Zea. Mirojnick later designed the “Fame” television pilot. She was costume designer on “The Flamingo Kid” and, shortly thereafter, “Nobody’s Fool.”
In 1986, Mirojnick’s collaboration with Michael Douglas began with “Fatal Attraction” and “Wall Street,” followed by “Black Rain,” “Basic Instinct” and “A Perfect Murder.” She was included in the Biennale della Moda di Firenze for her work in “A Perfect Murder.” Her relationship with Douglas as a producer has included “Face/Off” and “One Night at McCool’s,” among others.
Along with “Fatal Attraction,” Mirojnick also teamed with director Adrian Lyne on “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Unfaithful,” the latter of which earned her a nomination for a Contemporary Design Award from the Costume Designers Guild. A few of the cult favorites on which Mirojnick collaborated with director Paul Verhoeven were “Basic Instinct,” “Showgirls,” “Starship Troopers” (which earned her a Saturn Award for Best Sci-Fi Costume Design) and “Hollow Man.”
Her designs for the telefeature “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” garnered Mirojnick an Emmy® nomination for Outstanding Costume Design for a Variety or Music Program. She was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design, along with designer John Mollo, for “Chaplin.” Other film credits include the 2006 romantic comedy “Failure to Launch” starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey, “What Women Want,” “America’s Sweethearts,” “Cliffhanger,” “Speed” and “Twister,” to name a few.
Mirojnick herself was the subject of a documentary on costume design, “Hollywood Fashion Machine Special: The Costume Designer” (2000), and was part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s exhibit “50 Designers 50 Films” (2004).
On the heels of last years #1 box-office hit, “Act of Valor” composer NATHAN FURST (Composer) is quickly gaining recognition as one of Hollywood’s elite young composers.
Continuing his almost decade-long collaboration with director Scott Waugh, Furst started writing “Need for Speed” themes after reading the script in pre-production. The result is a rousing and powerful score with epic themes. The blending of dream-like guitars and synth elements with memorable and compelling themes, surrounded by the strength and elegance of a symphony orchestra, has created an exciting American Rock Opera as the sonic backdrop for this emotional story.
The score was written and produced within the production facility of Bandito Brothers, where Furst was able to score the film in a very collaborative environment with the director and editor. The score enlists the magic and talents of 90 musicians across three recording studios.
Furst is a self-taught musician, and began composing music at a young age. After attending Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), he left college to accept offers to score film and television projects. To date, he has composed the themes and scores to over 50 films and television shows.