Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Emile Hirsch Talks Speed Racer - It's going to be all green screen

Empire Movie News spoke to Emile Hirsch recently and they were under the impression that Speed Racer, the Wachowski brothers' adaptation of the cult cartoon about a boy who wants to be the best racing driver in the world, was going to be using green screen elements for its reportedly groundbreaking racing sequences, but using old fashioned sets and props for much of the rest of movie. We'd heard rumours that much of it would be filled in later (John Mathieson, who was Director of Photography on Gladiator, apparently turned down the chance to shoot this because of the glut of green), but no concrete confirmation that it was taking the full 300 approach.

"Nope, it's all green screen," Hirsch told us. "There were no sets, just us and the green background. I haven't seen anything of it finished yet, there was a lot of trust [in the Wachowskis] involved. It's going to be crazy. Was the monkey real? Yes."

So, what does this mean for the look of Speed Racer? Are the Wachowski brothers going to try to stylize this to look just like the cartoon – though presumably without the characters mouths continuing to move after they've finished speaking?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

First Pic John Goodman In Speed Racer

In the movie, Speed is loyal to the family racing business, led by his father, Pops Racer (Goodman), the designer of Speed's thundering Mach 5. When Speed turns down a lucrative and tempting offer from Royalton Industries, he not only infuriates the company's maniacal owner (Roger Allam) but uncovers a terrible secret—some of the biggest races are being fixed by a handful of ruthless moguls who manipulate the top drivers to boost profits. If Speed won't drive for Royalton, Royalton will see to it that the Mach 5 never crosses another finish line.

The only way for Speed to save his family's business and the sport he loves is to beat Royalton at his own game. With the support of his family and his loyal girlfriend, Trixie (Christina Ricci), Speed teams with his one-time rival—the mysterious Racer X (Matthew Fox) — to win the race that had taken his brother's life: the death-defying, cross-country rally known as The Crucible.

The film hits theaters on May 9th, 2008.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tarnished by past, Babelsberg looks to brighter future

The Wachowski Brothers are busy finishing up the final touches to Speed Racer after shooting the movie in front of green screens at Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam. This legendary studio flourished during the early part of the 20th Century thanks to a vibrant film production and stars like Marlene Dietrich.

It didn't take long to rocket Dietrich to international stardom, and she soon left for Hollywood. But the Potsdam studio she left behind soon lost its glitter. When Adolf Hitler came on the scene, Babelsberg devolved into his personal propaganda machine. Under communist East Germany, the studio had flashes of brilliance, but when the Berlin Wall fell and the studio came under private ownership, the losses mounted.

But in less than a year, Studio Babelsberg has made a comeback worthy of its star-studded past. With new management - and generous government subsidies that cover up to 20 percent of a filmmaker's costs - the studio is confidently looking ahead as it celebrates its 95th anniversary.

By the end of December, the studio will have hosted 11 films, including two big-budget Hollywood films shot simultaneously: Tom Cruise's Valkyrie, the World War II biopic of Count Claus von Stauffenberg's 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler, and the Wachowski brothers' star-packed flick Speed Racer. (...continue article)

Joel Silver Explains Speed Racer Technology

Joel Silver is sort of the unofficial spokesman for the Wachowski Brothers. They never do press, even when their own movies are coming out, let alone during production. But producer Silver ushered the visionaries into Hollywood and explains their process whenever he can. With Speed Racer wrapping principal photography and onto the visual effects stage, Silver previewed the next new vision from the Matrix boys.

"The Wachowski Brothers really can't do anything easy," said Silver. "They want to make it as hard as they possibly can. So [Speed Racer is] has a look that you have never seen before. It's really a vast panorama of the story. There's going to be a trailer out at Christmas, and it's pretty spectacular. So you'll see it pretty soon."

Shot entirely on green screen, Speed Racer borrows less from the landmark 300 than it does from the Wachowskis' own previous effort. "There were a lot of green screen elements in the Matrix movies. There were a lot of things that were done in those films that were done in a very serious CGI format. This is even more advanced than that."

Specifically, getting the details of a general race track involves more elements than any bullet time scene or burly brawl they've done before. "Look at a movie like Ben-Hur. They took nine months to shoot that chariot race and they had to deal with the horses and the chariots and the crowds. Here's a movie that's made not even 50 years later, these big huge car races, huge crowds. And there are no cars, anyplace. It's all on the computer."

Via Rotten Tomatoes

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