Buckle up, because we’re about to take you on a thrilling ride through the world of “Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story.” This film has been making waves since its release, and there’s more to it than meets the eye. Whether you’re a racing enthusiast or just a lover of compelling cinema, we’ve got five film facts that will make you appreciate this adrenaline-pumping masterpiece even more. From the incredible real-life journey that inspired it to the groundbreaking filmmaking techniques employed, here’s the pit stop of facts you need before this thrilling ride begins!
1) From Gamer to Racing Legend: The Unbelievable Journey of Jann Mardenborough
Jann Mardenborough’s journey starts with his obsessive love for the Gran Turismo video game, where he experiences the thrill of high-speed racing virtually. But his life takes an unexpected turn when he competes against the best players, vying for a spot on Nissan’s GT Academy race team. Plucked from thousands of contenders, he finds himself under the guidance of a cynical former driver and behind the wheel of some of the world’s fastest machines.
At just 31, Mardenborough boasts over a decade of international racing experience, having competed in notable series such as Super GT, Formula E, LMP1, LMP2, GT3, and various single-seaters. His prowess as a racer is not just limited to track performance; he has also demonstrated immense technical skill and expertise, particularly in tire development. Remarkably, Mardenborough’s entry into professional racing wasn’t conventional: he started his journey by winning the GT Academy in 2011, a competition by Nissan and “Gran Turismo”, besting 90,000 other participants. Transitioning from a “gamer-to-racer”, he soon established himself as a formidable name in racing circles globally, with accolades including Japanese Formula 3 Vice Champion in 2016 and clinching third in the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2013. Apart from his on-track endeavors, Mardenborough played crucial roles off-track, especially as a simulator driver for Nissan’s Formula E program, contributing significantly to the team’s second-place finish in the 2019-20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Director Neill Blomkamp describes Mardenborough’s story as a series of dreams coming true, and the film captures this remarkable journey with astonishing authenticity.
2) ‘Gran Turismo’ Realism: How Blomkamp and the Sony Venice 2 Camera Revolutionized Racing Cinema
Neill Blomkamp took realism to the next level. Every car scene is authentically shot, resisting the usual film temptation to utilize digital cars and background plates. Instead, when an actor is portrayed driving, they are genuinely on the track, driving at speeds close to reality. To provide the most authentic racing experience for viewers, real cars were used, and filming took place on genuine tracks such as the Slovakia Ring, Dubai Autodrome, Nurburgring, and more. Additionally, unique camera techniques such as first-person-view drones, more common in drone racing, were employed to offer audiences never-before-seen racing perspectives. This dedication to realism is further highlighted with the use of first-person-view drones during races, offering audiences perspectives rarely seen before in cinema.
Blomkamp employed the innovative Sony Venice 2 camera with the Rialto extension. This groundbreaking technology allowed the director to separate the sensor from the camera body, placing the camera in compact, once-unreachable spaces. This meant that for the first time, cinematic-level 6K or 8K sensors could fit inside the tight confines of a racecar cockpit, capturing intimate shots without the barrier of polarized glass, creating a truly immersive racing experience on screen. This unique filming technique, combined with the actual racing talent of Jann Mardenborough, who both inspired and served as the stunt driver for his character, resulted in a truly immersive racing experience on screen.
3) Archie Madekwe’s Gran Turismo Journey
Did you know? Archie Madekwe, who brilliantly plays Jann Mardenborough in “Gran Turismo,” not only had to learn how to drive for his role but also underwent rigorous training to master the “Gran Turismo” game! In real life, he had no driving experience, but his commitment led him to take driving lessons while working on another project. Yet, learning to drive was only the beginning of his challenges.
To authentically portray a gamer competing in “Gran Turismo,” Madekwe had to become proficient at the game itself. His dedication to the role extended to rigorous training, including learning the game’s tracks, racing lines, and braking technique. His character had to win against formidable AI opponents, which meant he needed to excel in the game. He trained extensively and received guidance from David Perel, a former sim driver turned Ferrari racer.
Despite his training, Madekwe’s experience made him realize that professional racing wasn’t for him. He describes the challenges of being inside a racing car, including the heat, claustrophobia, and anxiety, especially given his 6’5″ stature, all while making split-second decisions. His respect for racecar drivers grew immensely, acknowledging their athleticism and the intense demands of the sport.
4) Real Cars, Real Speed – An Inside Look at Authentic Filmmaking
To capture the essence of being a racecar driver, the film utilized genuine cars driven by former racecar drivers, creating an exhilarating experience. Executive producer Matt Hirsch took on the logistical challenge of making Neill Blomkamp’s vision come to life. One ingenious solution was the creation of pod cars for scenes inside the racing vehicles. These modified cars allowed experienced stunt drivers to control the vehicle from the roof while the actors performed from the driver’s seat, complete with dummy steering wheels, gearshifts, and pedals. This setup enabled the actors to deliver genuine reactions to the exhilarating speeds. A fleet of cars was assembled, with each type serving a specific purpose: a hero car for close-up shots, a backup in case of accidents, and a pod car for the stunt driving. The film featured an impressive lineup of racecars, including the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Corvette C8.R GT3, and many others, totaling 65 cars in the fleet, 22 being hero cars.
Locations spanned from Budapest to Tokyo, the production team needed to gather not only the cars but also a team of skilled mechanics, technicians, and computer experts to ensure the vehicles stayed in optimal condition throughout the shoot. In total, the crew consisted of up to 500 individuals who traveled across various locations, creating an authentic racing experience, some of whom have been in the business for over 40 years.
Adding to the authenticity, the film featured an exceptional team of stunt drivers, including Jann Mardenborough, who portrayed himself in the movie. These skilled professionals, ranging from racecar drivers to seasoned stunt drivers, contributed to the film’s realistic portrayal of high-speed racing across six different tracks worldwide. The production meticulously prioritized an authentic representation of the racing world. Notably, the Hungaroring, a Formula 1 track, was transformed by production designer Martin Whist into the world-renowned Le Mans. To convey the full throttle of high-speed racing, director Neill Blomkamp and his director of photography Jacques Jouffret innovatively employed first-person view (FPV) drones. The drones provided a fresh perspective, capturing the cars’ velocity as never seen before. Additionally, these drones allowed a switch from aggressive, fast-paced sequences to serene, “in-the-zone” moments for drivers. The authenticity extended even to the wardrobes, where FIA-approved, fireproof racing suits were used, proving crucial in the actors’ immersion into their roles.
5) From Digital Dreams to Racetrack Realities: A Closer Look at ‘Gran Turismo’s’ Characters
David Harbour’s portrayal of Jack is a poignant journey of passion, setback, and redemption. Once a respected chief engineer, Jack’s life takes a tragic turn, leading him to become a humble mechanic. Despite this demotion, his love for racing remains unwavering as he spends over a decade in the pits, silently observing the sport he adores. As the GT Academy unfolds, we witness a fascinating shift in Jack’s character. Harbour explores the depths of a man initially skeptical of young gamers from the digital realm. His cynicism hides a deep desire to help these newcomers experience the tangible intensity of real-world racing. Harbour’s multi-dimensional portrayal adds depth to the film, highlighting the challenges of bridging generational gaps in motorsports.
Orlando Bloom embodies Danny, a character brimming with optimism and an unshakable passion for racing. In stark contrast to Jack’s skepticism, Danny is an uplifting figure who sees every dream as a conquerable challenge. His infectious enthusiasm and unwavering belief in the power of passion drive him forward. Danny’s dynamic with Jack creates a classic ‘odd couple’ scenario, where their differences complement each other. Despite initial doubts, they become each other’s strengths. Danny’s unshakeable faith in Jann Mardenborough is a pivotal moment, raising questions about his true intentions. Orlando Bloom clarifies that Danny’s belief in Jann and the GT Academy’s vision is genuine, going beyond commercial interests. Danny’s commitment to the Academy sets the stage for a story where hope, ambition, and genuine human connection take center stage.
Family dynamics are central to the film, with Geri Halliwell Horner as Jann’s mother, Lesley, and Djimon Hounsou as his father, Steve. The movie delves into the emotional turmoil of a young Jann seeking approval from his parents as he pursues his racing passion. Steve, in particular, grapples with accepting his son’s unconventional dreams, a conflict echoing Hounsou’s personal journey of defying expectations in pursuit of an acting career. This story serves as a poignant reminder that well-meaning parental intentions can sometimes pose challenges for their children’s aspirations, resonating deeply with audiences.
“Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story” is not just a racing film; it’s a thrilling journey that combines real-life drama, high-speed action, and the human spirit’s unyielding determination. As the film enters its second week on the screens, audiences are in for an immersive experience that transcends the typical racing movie. So, if you haven’t already, make sure to catch it on the big screen. Experience the breathtaking true story of passion, racing, and the drive to defy all odds in “Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story.” Buckle up, and let’s race to new horizons!