BY Alex Gibson
The streets of Sofia, Bulgaria are alive with the Christmas spirit. Garland curls up the lampposts, lights twinkle, and a holiday market has sprung up in the park. Brent Magna comes home expecting to see his wife trimming their tree, but instead finds broken glass ornaments and their apartment trashed. The phone rings. A mysterious voice tells Brent that his wife has been taken and the only way they’ll be reunited is for Brent to follow the voice’s instructions precisely. The voice’s orders lead Brent to commandeer Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 Super Snake, along with its owner, and tear through the city until the seemingly omniscient villain is satisfied. This is the plot of the high-octane new thriller Getaway, which recently screened in Manayunk.
The film was directed by co-founder and CEO of After Dark Films, Courtney Solomon. Solomon has made such acclaimed films as An American Haunting, starring Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek, and Wristcutters: A Love Story, starring Patrick Fugit and Shannyn Sossamon. On the horizon, Solomon will be working on new action films under the banner of After Dark Action, and a movie based on Dungeons & Dragons. Earlier this month, he sat down with me to animatedly discuss the ins and outs of Getaway, which opens August 30 and stars Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, and Jon Voight.
“I got lucky with the cast,” Solomon said. “Ethan was awesome. Selena was awesome. And Voight was awesome.” Little is seen of Voight’s character for the majority of the movie. The audience is given only glimpses of his nefarious nameless character. Solomon commented on working Voight’s voice into the film once everything else was shot, “He went above and beyond…basically we molded it [the character]. The one advantage to bringing the character in at the end…was that Jon and I got to play with it.”
The rest of the film was shot in Bulgaria as the crew took over the city of Sofia. Rather than using CGI or green screens for the death-defying stunts, Solomon decided to go back to the nitty-gritty and do all the stunts for real. He used 27 to 42 cameras at a time as the film’s stunt crew performed intricate and dangerous stunts — flipping cop cars, crashing motorcycles, and driving through buildings: “…there were a lot of camera harmed in the filming of this movie and there were 130 cars wrecked…it was literally a junk yard of cars by the end of the movie…”
The actors shot most of their scenes in a specially rigged car driven furiously through the streets of Sofia: “all of the circumstances that they were shooting under were not normal…for three weeks all we did was go 60 miles an hour around three closed out streets to change our locations while they had to run their scenes in real environments. If I happened to throw a motorcycle shooting beside them, that’s what was beside them…deep potholes, you know, when they were going around corners at 60 miles per hour…You see them bouncing, you feel the car shaking when they’re in it, cuz it is…many of the stunts obviously have to be done by stuntmen…I had to shoot the action first, rough assemble it together, and then show it to them [Hawke and Gomez] before we were actually doing the scenes and then once they sort of had the logistics – they’re going this way and doing this, oh my god, that car’s coming from there – you can imagine just how dizzying all that might be just from the instructional point of view. Then we can focus on the performance of the characters…”
For a few days, Hawke got in the driver’s seat himself and performed his own stunts. “When you watch it in the movie theater, it goes by so quickly. You see Ethan in the car reacting, but it’s not a green screen. All the shots are actually …him really driving 50 miles an hour with those guys right beside him…Smashing the motorcycle on the wall of the tunnel is Ethan, that’s really Ethan…He was extremely brave to do it…He did it to help make the movie authentic, so we could get enough shots of him actually driving it, so you wouldn’t think it was a stunt guy, so you’d go ‘Wow! that’s really the guy,’ which just goes with the whole experience of the movie.”
Last, but not least, I asked Solomon how he chose the car – the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Super Snake:
“I just felt it was the right character, because it was just like casting Ethan, Selena or Jon because it just as big a part as they are…It was important to me because I really wanted an American car there. It was always set in a European city, so I felt like Ethan and Selena were transplants in that city…but I felt like I wanted a car that stuck out in the city and I wanted those two Americans to be in an American car. They showed me Ferraris and all these other kinds of cars and I was like ‘they’re too slick, they’re not right’…I wanted a car with some sort of heart to it. And that car is the quintessential American supercar. So I just I just thought it belonged in the movie.”
For an adrenaline-filled Labor Day weekend, check out Getaway, opening tomorrow nationwide.
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