Paying great homage to the past was the drive of 20th Century Fox’s Ford v. Ferrari and Blue Sky Animation’s Will Smith voiced feature Spies in Disguise.
In shooting James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari Oscar nominated DP Phedon Papamichael at Deadline’s NY Contenders today said that the filmmaker was inspired by classic old school race car movies like John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix and the Steve McQueen 1971 pic Le Mans.
Ford v. Ferrari tells the story of car designer Carroll Shelby and his iconoclast British race car driver Ken Miles as they battle corporate interference, their own personal demons, and the laws of physics to build the ideal race car for Ford as the automaker challenges Ferrari in the 24 hour Le Mans 1966 race in France.
“We had anamorphic lenses customized to cover a larger format,” said the DP. The whole gist of the pic was to re-create the driver’s POV. No VFX were used, rather built out set extensions. The real Le Mans racetrack no longer exists, and turns on the 300 yard course were recreated between its SoCal and Atlanta locations. And yes, the cameras followed the drivers at 90 to 110 mph.
Spies in Disguise follows Smith as the world’s leading spy who gets turned in to pigeon and must rely on his tech officer to save the world.
Made with a production team of 550 people, Spies in Disguise “wanted to be true to all the classics, The Bonds, The Bornes, The Ethan Hunts. We studied those meticulously…It’s a spy movie that gets derailed by things that happen in an animated film but it was just such a fun idea and we wanted to embrace the genre and run with it,” said the pic’s production designer Michael Knapp today.
As the production designer on a feature toon, Knapp is the first person on and the last person out during production. Knapp oversaw the character and environment designs, the color palettes and worked with the VFX team.
“It’s the dumbest idea in the world. It’s the most unlikely thing. Pigeons are the most mundane birds on the planet but they can fly 90 miles per hour. They can corner at 90 miles per hour. The can see 360 degrees. They can see part of the UV field of light. They are the perfect form for a spy. It takes geniuses like us to figure that out and then spend three and a half years making a movie about it,” Knapp added.
Ford v Ferrari by tomorrow will stand at $89.3M in its fourth weekend. Spies in Disguise, directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, opens on Dec. 25.
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