What is the plot of ‘Gran Turismo’?
Based on the true story of Jann Mardenborough, a Gran Turismo player whose gaming skills won him a series of Nissan-sponsored video game competitions to become an actual professional race car driver.
Who is in the cast of ‘Gran Turismo’?
Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with director Neill Blomkamp about his work on ‘Gran Turismo,’ adapting the video game while telling Jann Mardenborough real life story, why Archie Madekwe was the right actor to play Mardenborough, the VFX he used to simulate the game, and shooting the race car driving scenes.
Moviefone: To begin with, can you talk about the idea of adapting the ‘Gran Turismo’ video game by telling Jan Mardenborough’s real life story. Was that the key for you in making this movie?
Neill Blomkamp: Yeah, totally. I mean, the thing about the movie that I thought was unique and a different way to approach video game films was this totally unusual approach of it being a biography. His life is very interesting and this combination of real world racing and the drama of the real world where we’re not in the narrative of a video game, but the video game is so integral to his journey and to the movie. I thought that was a really cool and unusual way of approaching a video game movie.
MF: Why was Archie Madekwe the right actor to play Jann Mardenborough and bring his real life story to the big screen?
NB: I mean, there’s a host of different factors that make Archie perfect. One of the things that we spoke about a lot was just that Jann is a very grounded and sort of warm person. He’s like a really good guy. There’s something in Archie that naturally seems grounded and similar to him. They’re very similar in terms of charisma, but they’re physically totally different. Archie’s 6’6, or some crazy height and he’s not optimal for being a race car jockey, that has to be squeezed into small, lightweight race cars. So physically, he’s cool in the movie, because he kind of lurches over everyone, but he’s very different to Jann in that respect. But I met so many actors for this role and even the first time that I had a Zoom with him, I could just tell that he was the right person. Then I went to London and I met him in person and I just totally loved him. I loved working with him as well. I loved his performance and I also loved the process of actually working with him.
MF: Can you talk about the VFX you used to simulate the game within the movie?
NB: Yeah, I mean that idea came from this concept that in the PlayStation or any video game computational device, that it’s running some kind of game engine. It’s calculating in 3D space everything correctly. So when you’re driving it, it’s projecting an approximation onto a screen of roughly what the track looks like. But in reality, it’s genuinely computing like an eight-kilometer long track where the size of the car is correct, all of the mathematics are in fact correct. I wanted to just project that in 3D space and let the audience see what the PlayStation is actually computing. Visually, I thought it was interesting, but the real thing about it that’s cool is, it’s kind of how a real professional sim driver experiences and sees Gran Turismo. So it felt very personal to Jann, even though it’s a cool visual motif, it’s actually how he sees the world. So any place that I could put it that didn’t feel gratuitous or too much of a gimmick, I wanted to include it.
MF: Finally, can you talk about the challenges of shooting the race car driving sequences and making those seem as authentic as possible?
NB: I mean the goal with the race sequences was to make it as much of an experiential thing as I could. I wanted to put the cameras in positions that really let you feel like you were on the track, feeling it in a visceral way, almost like you were there as much as I could. A huge portion of that was sound design and also how the sound design would change depending on where the camera’s placed. Then also showing the internal mechanics of the car and the idea with that was, if this is how all the mechanics work, then there’s sort of a G-force or physical stress that’s applied to the driver. It all came back to this idea of trying to feel it through the screen. Then the other thing was for everything to just be real as opposed to using tricks or visual effects. I don’t really want to say visual effects, because we used visual effects, but we used visual effects to amplify what was real. So the basis for everything was always real. Anytime you see one of the actors in the cockpit, they’re really on the track doing that. None of that is fake. It’s a hundred percent real.
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‘Gran Turismo’ is produced by PlayStation Productions, 2.0 Entertainment, and Columbia Pictures. The movie is scheduled to release in theaters on August 11th, 2023.