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'Need for Speed' movie features modified Mustang

Realistic action emulates film techniques of classics such as 'Grand Prix' and 'Bullit'

Published: March 14, 2014, 3:00 PM
Updated: December 16, 2014, 9:43 PM

Need for Speed movie Mustang

DreamWorks Studio's new action movie, 'Need for Speed', which opens in theatres this weekend, is said to emulate such classic 1960s driving films as 'Grand Prix' (1966) and 'Bullitt' (1968).

For good reason: it was shot in the same way, using real cars and cameras rather than computer simulation, which has now become the film industry norm.

Director, Scot Waugh and director of photography, Shane Hurlbut used many of the same techniques used in filming those classics to make 'Need for Speed' – updated with the latest camera technology and up to 40 cameras to give viewers an intimate first-person perspective of the action.

The movie, starring Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots, chronicles a near-impossible cross-country journey for the heroes in a modified 2014 Mustang GT. It is said to begin as a mission for revenge but becomes one of redemption.

Both Ford and Carroll Shelby Licensing were involved in the project, providing vintage images and historically accurate facts to add to the depth of the plot.

The hero car in the movie features the Shelby-inspired wide body package, with unique 22-inch alloy wheels, a larger lower grille with new air intakes, extended rocker panels, low-profile mirrors and a twin-snorkel hood. Its paint is a custom silver with blue racing stripes.

Seven modified 2014 Ford Mustangs were built for the filming and promotion, of which three survived to the end. An early prototype 2015 Mustang fastback was also used and a supercharged 2013 Mustang GT served as one of three camera cars for wheel-to-wheel action.

Director Waugh, a former stunt man, is a lifelong fan of classic action film sequences. His goal with 'Need for Speed' was to tell a character-driven story steeped in car culture that gives the audience a genuine perspective of what it’s like to drive at high speeds and in close proximity to other cars.

"Doing practical stunts with cars takes more up-front preparation to set up the shots and ensure safety, but the end result is worth it," Waugh said.

Computer generated imagery enables today’s filmmakers to produce virtually any sequence their imaginations can conjure. While that’s a great approach to creating science fiction, fantasy or superhero sequences that don’t exist in the physical world, it doesn’t deliver the authenticity Waugh was after.

Two of the Mustangs that survived the filming cars are on tour promoting the movie. Three other will be auctioned for charity on April 12.