The Fast and Furious franchise manages to deliver more over the top chase sequences with each film, and Fate of the Furious is no different. You might be surprised to find out that as insane as these continue to be, more often than not they aren’t created with CGI.
Stunt coordinators Jack Gill, Andy Gill, and Spiro Razatos spoke with Thrillist about their work on Fate of the Furious, including one of the opening sequences in Havana. The sequence has Dom competing in an impromptu drag race, and eventually the car lights on fire thanks to some retrofitted NOS. “It was 99% all real,” Jack Gill said. “The only thing we had trouble with was about the first quarter of the race, the car catches on fire. We had authentic fire for most of it, but when we started picking the speeds up, we found out the fire was getting inside the car, and the stunt guy just couldn’t take it anymore, so we had to turn the fire down and augment the fire with a bigger fire for the ending… All the bumping and grinding, sliding around the corners in tight formats was all real.”
The only thing they had to do was put two scenes together digitally. “The car that we pulled in that hit the wall only jumped in the air about five feet because the impact was so hard that it just bent the car in half,” Gill said. “We didn’t have time to shoot the second one, so I said as long as you guys will use my angles, then we’ll shoot another car off against a green screen so it’s still a real car. Essentially it’s still the real car and it’s still the real angles, we just had to put the two together.”
The wrecking ball scene in Germany required a few more effects, but not as many as you’d think. “We actually built a real wrecking ball,” Andy said. “We drove our hero cars beside it as we released it, and we towed in our bad guys’ cars in formation to get hit by the ball and timed it all out. On the front of the ball we put almost like a V-ramp so that it would lift the cars and they would run up that V-ramp… Watching it happen and seeing that ball fly by is amazing. It’s a lot of power.”
It requires putting some people in danger, something the team made sure to communicate to the drivers. “Once we put real guys in there we said ‘Look, if your car coughs or it even hesitates for a second, you’re dead,'” Jack said. “You can’t have any part of your car in front of this thing. So what you see is real. The only thing they added to it was some debris from the car flying towards the camera.”
That same resourcefulness in Germany allowed them to pull off the Zombie car scene in New York, with one exception. “There’s only one shot, one intersection shot, that’s not real,” Razatos said. “Everything [else] is real, so that’s the sequence that I’m really, really happy [about]… I know why they put it in — it tells the story of all the cars merging — but I think they could have shortened that shot.”
And Iceland? That was mostly real as well, though one thing, in particular, was just too hard to manage. “Most all of the Iceland [scene] was real except for the submarine,” Andy said. “When the hero cars are being chased by the bad guys in the SUVs and they get blown up in the air by the sub, that’s all physical.”
“One of the things we tried to do was use the Phantom Camera, which is new to the franchise,” Razatos said. “You’re able to go up to one thousand frames per second. When the sub hits Dom’s car and it’s tumbling as it’s landing, there’s actually a shot where you see it from normal speed to one thousand frames per second, and you see this burning tire in the foreground. Everybody would think it’s a CGI shot, and it’s not.”
While the stunts are over the top to be sure, the use of practical effects is something fans of the franchise appreciate, and if the film keeps it up Fast and Furious 9 should be just as successful as Fate of the Furious.
Fate of the Furious is in theaters now.