Photos courtesy of CBS Films.
Action movies and cool cars are a solid combination. When CBS Films unleashes their new movie “Faster” on November 24th audiences will have no idea the real work that goes into creating a feature film. To shed some light on the hot wheels in this movie AutoTrader Classics caught up with Transportation Coordinator Geno Hart to find out some of the details on these awesome cars.
How many versions of each car were built for production?
We had five total Chevelles. Two were for Dwayne Johnson and standard driving shots. Two were for stunt driving with larger carburetors on them for low end power, and one was mocked up for a high speed front end collision.
We had three Ferrari 360 Modena’s. One hero, one for stunts, and one for special effect shots and stunts.
The Lotus was only driven by the actress playing Lily and was a difficult color to match/find so we only had one. We had to paint a green top to match the yellow body.
For the GTOs we had one hero and two stunt cars. We set the hero up as a stunt car as well due to the volume of filming in a short period of time for the bank heist sequence. It came in handy as there was a period of time where all three cars were being used and filmed.
In the case of the Chevelle, why was a mixture of a ’70 front and ’71 rear end chosen?
We originally had 1971 cars sourced. The director then decided that he wanted a 4 headlight car since we had a significant amount of night filming. That model was only manufactured in 1970. When asked if he wanted to change the rear-end to match, he decided he liked the ’71 rear end better than ‘70, so we kept it. So we ended up creating a hybrid one-of-a-kind Chevelle only seen in this film.
In the trailer I can see that the Chevelle is badged as a SS 454 model. Do you know the original model and or engine/trans combination for any of the Chevelles used?
Original models were 350 cid motors with an 8 bolt rear end, with the option for larger 454cid engines. Ours motors were pre-ordered 350 cid small block racing engines with Vortec heads and roller cams. They gave us about 430 horsepower, which is probably even a little more than the original 454 cid stock horsepower option, hence justifying the 454 stickers. Plus they look really cool.
What performance modifications were made to the Chevelle to help facilitate shooting?
As stated above we put high performance racing motors with advanced cams for added horsepower, plus we used 10 bolt rear extra power handling. We added special brake kits to facilitate sliding on corners and stops. We installed larger carburetors on some cars so burn outs and acceleration was no problem, although two of the cars we built with smaller carburetors performed amazingly well thanks to the engines.
What company was your preferred supplier for restoration parts on the Chevelle?
Far and above we used one company for the Chevelle parts, “Year One”.
The Chevelle is listed as having “nitro boosters” but I assume nitrous oxide is the intended description. Is there a specific hp boost mentioned (25, 50, 150 hp shot)?
The nitrous kit we use supplied 150hp, 175hp, or 250hp shots although we did not list a specific horsepower boost…... just “Faster!”
If any replicas were built of the Ferrari or Lotus, what chassis was used?
No replicas, we used the real deal for the Ferraris and Lotus. The only exception is that some of the Chevelles were actually Malibus (which were very close of course).
Did you have any difficulties mounting stunt driver safety equipment in any of the vehicles?
No difficulties in the safety arena, it is planned so far in advance that safety and stunt rigging is part of building the cars and any potential difficulties are solved early on.
Did any of the vehicles present a unique challenge for filming?
The interior of the Ferraris were very small. To facilitate some of the forward facing interior shots we had to remove the rear window into the engine compartment and mount a smaller camera behind the actor.
Do you handle all of the vehicle modifications in-house or do you work with other shops?
We plan all of the vehicle modifications in-house and sub out various portions depending on what is needed. 90% of the work on these cars was done in-house by the amazing team of design persons, car-finders, chief mechanics, mechanics, and schedulers that we have built over the years. You can’t pull off big looking cars of this magnitude without a very experienced, skilled, and cohesive team.
What other movie cars have you built/handled?
Having been the Transportation & Logistics Coordinator as well as my own Picture Vehicle Coordinator on over 250 films, the work is not possible without a team effort every time. I’ve been very fortunate to have completed this type of work with my selected team on many wonderful films. Some of my work includes: the period cars on “Catch Me If You Can”; the fun cars in “Boogie Nights” (period films are always a unique challenge with added fun); the 1973 “boat-tail” in the movies “Crank” and Crank High-Voltage”; the futuristic cars in the original “Lawnmower Man” film series; the cars and NYPD police vehicles in “The Usual Suspects”; a variety of cars in the films “Magnolia” and “Punch Drunk Love”; and more recently we crafted and oversaw the making & matching of five yellow VW vans for “Little Miss Sunshine”.
What is your professional biography?
After college I ran the Systems Analysis department for a Health Care Research Company and taught computer science classes to undergrad students. It wasn’t long after that I got the bug, moved to Los Angeles (from Des Moines, Iowa), and I started in the movie business as an actor (mostly in commercials). After some moderate success in commercials I moved behind the camera. During the inevitable out-of-work actor period I rose quickly to a management position in the transportation division of film production.
While running the entire transportation department on low budget films we couldn’t afford a full time picture vehicle staff so we had to do much of the work ourselves (like the old convertible Cadillac’s in the Nicholas Cage film “Red Rock West”). We work very steadily now. We most recently finished the hit film “Up in the Air” with a very large number of “Ryan Bingham’s” (George Clooney’s) 13 matching (but different) rental cars (interior & exterior) across many states and cities. Again, there is more effort and work behind the scenes than meets the eye. We stay relatively busy because we are a cohesive team of hard working individuals, all of which bring unique talents to the table, and all with one common bond… passion for the magic of motion pictures. After 25 years of film production no two days are alike, and it is still always exciting every day to go to work. I wrote a small analogy after I began this type of work many years ago, and it still holds to be exceptionally true today: “Film-making is like an athletic event, excitement builds and adrenaline flows each time… you step onto the field.”
Since those humble beginnings we have been very fortunate to work on a large number of notable films, most recently “Faster”.
CBS Films elaborated further on some of the automotive filming details:
To accompany Driver (Dwayne Johnson) on his journey, the filmmakers wanted a car that would equal Driver’s raw energy. “Driver likely asked his contact on the outside for a machine, something that says ‘I don’t play!’” says director George Tillman.
Tillman had Transportation bring in a number of different makes and models. Once Johnson sat in the Super Sport Chevelle, it was obvious they had found their car (the car that appears in the film is actually a hybrid 1970/1971 Chevelle with an upgraded engine and nitro booster).
Johnson loved driving a muscle car. “I’ve had the opportunity to drive some fun cars in the past, but nothing this cool,” admits Johnson. “I’ve ridden horses, camels - it’s not the same. You get behind the wheel of a muscle car like a Chevelle with a cool gun in hand and it’s a ‘big boys with toys’ dream.”
Killer’s car, on the other hand, had to be sleek. No presentation of makes and models was needed. The filmmakers knew right off the bat that a silver Ferrari 360 was the perfect choice. “Killer’s car has to reflect finesse and speed – that’s definitely a Ferrari,” comments Tillman.
Other cars used in the film include a yellow Lotus for Lily (“Lily’s car had to be able to ‘hang’ with Killer’s,” says Tillman) and a gold ’67 GTO (driven by Driver in a flashback scene).
To prepare the actors for the driving sequences, the filmmakers arranged for the cast to spend a day at Rick Seaman’s Stunt Driving School. Dwayne Johnson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Maggie Grace (who learned to drive a stick on the Lotus) worked on basic stunt driving maneuvers and precision driving, allowing them to do more of their own driving in the film.
“Driving school was important so we wouldn’t have to cut away from the actors as much,” explains Tillman. “This makes the action sequences look all the more real.” Director of Photography Michael Grady (who worked with Tillman previously on Notorious) was able to shoot the cars from various close-up angles generally not possible with stunt actors.
Johnson enjoyed the opportunity to get behind the wheel and work with some of the best drivers in the business. “I had a lot of fun with those guys doing 45s, 90s, 180s, then reverse 180s going 80, 90 miles an hour backwards - wrecking the hell out of the cars. It was a great experience for me.”
Behind The Wheels Of CBS Films' New Movie "Faster"
Video - Official "Faster" Trailer
Racing into theaters November 24th!
Video - Exclusive "Faster" Clip!
Watch Dwayne Johnson pilot a GTO in this bank heist getaway clip.