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'Need for Speed' Director Opts for Real Stunts Led by Ford Mustang -- Paying Tribute to Classic Car Action Movies

  • A lifelong fan of classic action film sequences, director Scott Waugh opted to film genuine car-to-car action rather than use computer-generated images in new “Need for Speed”
  • Seven modified 2014 Ford Mustangs were built for filming and promotion of “Need for Speed,” in addition to an early prototype 2015 Mustang fastback
  • Supercharged 2013 Mustang GT used as a camera car for capturing on-the-road sequences

A lifelong fan of classic action film sequences, director Scott Waugh opted to film genuine car-to-car action rather than use computer-generated images in the new film “Need for Speed.” Seven modified 2014 Ford Mustangs were built for filming and promotion in addition to an early prototype 2015 Mustang fastback.

For Waugh, a former stuntman, the visceral experience generated by the performance, sound and visual presence of Ford Mustang makes it a natural choice for the hero car role in the highly anticipated movie opening nationwide March 14.

Waugh’s goal is 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.

“My philosophy has always been you can’t break physics,” said Waugh. “If you do, it hurts the story, because then the physics don’t apply to the characters either.” said Waugh. “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.”

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 is after with “Need for Speed.”

Starting with “Grand Prix” in 1966, “Bullitt” in 1968 then continuing through the 1970s, a new style for filming cars included mounting cameras on and inside the vehicle, giving viewers a first-person perspective of the action. Waugh and director of photography, Shane Hurlbut used many of the same techniques making “Need for Speed,” in combination with the latest camera technology.

More than 40 different digital cameras – from compact action cams to high-end cinema cameras – were used to capture images. The impressive image quality and small size of the action cameras enabled the directors to get shots that would have been unheard of in the 1960s.

“It’s really complicated to shoot in a car,” said Waugh. “You’re so confined. So we made sure all the camera angles would convince the audience the actors were really driving.”

Three different camera cars – including a supercharged Mustang GT – were used to get the close-in action shots that provide the sensation of speed to viewers. The combination of different cameras gave Waugh and Hurlbut the flexibility to shoot more angles of the action to capture the visceral experience of driving.

In addition to professional stunt drivers, the actors needed to be able to safely handle the high-powered driving machines in “Need for Speed.” The cast, including lead actors Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots, went through intensive training at Willow Springs International Motorsports Park in California, where they learned such intricacies of car control as drifting around corners and hitting precise marks while driving.

One driver who didn’t require intense instruction was champion drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr. Gittin was recruited for the sequences that involved driving the all-new 2015 Mustang that appears in the film. Few drivers are as qualified as Gittin to fling a Mustang around and place it exactly where the director wants it.

The film centers on protagonist Tobey Marshall’s quest to cross America in a modified 2014 Mustang GT. Of the seven wide-body Mustangs, three survived the filming process. Two of those cars are on tour promoting the film, while the other will be auctioned for charity April 12.

2015 Ford Mustang
The all-new Mustang is the most advanced version yet of the iconic pony car. The sleek new design of Mustang fastback and convertible is backed up by world-class performance from a range of available engines, including a new turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost® and an upgraded 5.0-liter V8 with more than 420 horsepower.

In addition to state-of-the-art connectivity systems, Mustang features available advanced driver-assist systems, track apps, launch control and more.

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About “Need for Speed”

DreamWorks Pictures’ “Need for Speed” marks an exciting return to the great car culture films of the 1960s and ’70s, when the authenticity of the world brought a new level of intensity to the action on-screen. Tapping into what makes the American myth of the open road so appealing, the story chronicles a near-impossible cross-country journey for our heroes – one that begins as a mission for revenge, but proves to be one of redemption. Based on the most successful racing video game franchise ever with over 140 million copies sold, “Need for Speed” captures the freedom and excitement of the game in a real-world setting, while bringing to life the passion for the road that has made our love of cars so timeless.


The film centers around Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), a blue-collar mechanic who races muscle cars on the side in an unsanctioned street-racing circuit. Struggling to keep his family-owned garage afloat, he reluctantly partners with the wealthy and arrogant ex-NASCAR driver Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). But just as a major sale to car broker Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots) looks like it will save Tobey's shop, a disastrous race allows Dino to frame Tobey for a crime he didn’t commit, and sending Tobey to prison while Dino expands his business out west.


Two years later, Tobey is released and set on revenge – but he knows his only chance to take down his rival Dino is to defeat him in the high-stakes race known as De Leon – the Super Bowl of underground racing. However to get there in time, Tobey will have to run a high-octane, action-packed gauntlet that includes dodging pursuing cops coast-to-coast as well as contending with a dangerous bounty Dino has put out on his car. With the help of his loyal crew and the surprisingly resourceful Julia, Tobey defies odds at every turn and proves that even in the flashy world of exotic supercars, the underdog can still finish first.


“Need for Speed” is presented by DreamWorks Pictures, produced by Patrick O’Brien, John Gatins and Mark Sourian, and directed by Scott Waugh. The screenplay is by George Gatins. The story is by George Gatins and John Gatins, and, based on the video game series created by Electronic Arts. The film releases in U.S. theaters on March 14, 2014.

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