Carroll Shelby, Shelby Ken Miles Henry Ford, Ford discussed on The Big Picture
The writer director. James Mangold delighted to be joined by James Mangle James. Thanks for having me in your office. No Problem Sean. Welcome so I'm looking around and see all of these beautiful physical objects and I'm reminded a bit of the movie that you've made which is very much physical objects kind of film and I was thinking about your career and where you've come from and the films that you've made recently cently. Lotta filmmakers are moving towards Ip. You were a little bit ahead of the game on that. You're doing something now. That is very classical wondering when this movie came to you you and what your reaction was when you saw the script well when I I saw the script. It was in a different form being made by different filmmaker but I And it was something I started start tracking in a way Hoping that it wouldn't happen in the configuration was in and then I get a chance at it and that was back in twenty eleven I believe and and I just found the story really interesting. I really I'm not a big motor sports guy. That's not how I connected with it but I think that the characters actors in Carroll Shelby Ken Miles Henry Ford the second and so- Ferrari Lee IACOCCA On and on these are all really interesting characters at a moment when the world was still Flexible too the passion Feel fear one of the part of the romance of that period is that it's kind of the last gasp of Mavericks innovation a kind of ability to take risk that that has been boiled away in kind of modern corporate culture culture I mean obviously risks and good things still happen. But it's you have to push your way through this kind of labyrinth this gauntlet of market testing and kind of business science. The now exists around the idea of what sells and what people want and there was a time. Certainly when this country the United States became a great innovator where an so many of the great inventions inventions of our modern era. Come from this country and so much of that. Innovation was was kind of maverick entrepreneurial. Spirit Kirit In many ways I view the same time kind of the fifties the sixties as kind of the death of that that pure spirit and in the same way that the western is a is a kind of Mythical Universe about the death of the kind of open range and and pioneer spirit. If you will that there's that there's these different historical periods that capture these things anyway for me. It was that it the idea of making an adult themed grownup movie with Dynamic Action with heroes. They were flawed interesting Didn't speak in two couplets and then you're onto the next twelve minutes of action that there was a kind of that I'd be asking audience to live through both the drama and an action film And that's what turned me on what I saw. The script was huge and epic and went in places that we I ended up trying not to go trying to focus more on shelby and miles particularly but also the reason the script didn't get made twenty eleven you're talking about and it certainly was getting developed earlier than that. That's the first time I saw it The reason the movie didn't get made is is what you were discussing discussing. which is that it wasn't an IP project yet it was very expensive and so you have the challenge of And the fear the challenge of convincing a studio audio to make a movie with the story idea that is essentially a kind of unproven story arena and that all ties back around into the world of the movie in another way I connect next to it which is in so many ways the characters in the film are trying to convince Ford or other kind of corporate committees to to take a risk on something that they don't understand Dan completely to just have faith in people as opposed to having the whole pathway mapped out and I think that such an important part certainly for me in my experience experience coming up as an independent filmmaker entering the world of studio movies on a big thing for me has been recognizing how important it it is to establish a level of trust or faith in the corporate entities. You're working with or else. You can't innovate at all or do anything interesting do you you self identify immediately with that concept. There's a very important scene in the film between Henry Ford the second and Carroll Shelby where there's kind of convincing that goes on. That was that reflects. I really worked on writing that scene and I really I mean we did a lot of work writing on the movie but the that scene is huge for me. The red folder saying yes and It was my idea to do this thing with the red folder. Try and almost make visual. What what shelby was trying to explain and What I love about that scene is it is about just human energy meaning that it's a man walking in for those? You haven't seen the movie I apologize. But it's a I'll try and set it up. Without spoiling spoiling the movie. It's it's a scene in which Carroll Shelby Matt Damon's character is called in Henry Ford the seconds office essentially to be fired because they've lost a major race and And that was exactly what Ford Hired that is exactly what for didn't hire shelby to do which was embarrassed. The company Josh and shelby ends up turning the moment through a singular piece of kind of verbal Tai Chi into a kind live moment where he has Ford on the defensive and has secured his job for the next year as opposed to fighting for his job ends up in a more secure job place than he ever has by essentially turning the tables on Henry Ford the second in kind of illustrating for him how their failure is in many ways. Do and a a a symptom of the failure of Ford to adapt or be flexible to reality or to believe in someone as to believe in person as opposed to What I think business had rallied around at that point? which is the supremacy of the idea? The well-tested idea so you mentioned that you needed to scale back this story and also it seems like you had to convince the powers Vida to make this film so what happens after the opportunity arises actually make the movie. What's the first thing that you do right? I get together with Jazz John Butterworth and we get to work on trying to shape the movie more One of the things I'm after is a reducing some of the scale the movie and be the movie had a lot of races in it and and I think there's kind of a cliche of sports movies where you kind of have these like thirty second second montages of of a game or race and then you go to the next one and yeah a little music and you cut to the scoreboard and the game's over and you're watching this team or or athlete. Advancer answer move through a series of historic races and one of the things I really wanted to do and part of this comes from my ambivalence about motor. Sports is is that I wanted to really try to put the audience in a race a sustained race where you felt the ups downs strategy tactics fears. Here's in the race and that to me meant doing less races but longer ones and culminating As this film home does with a almost fifty minute race which I would say the crew very often. I think we're doing saving private the Ryen in reverse. You know that. There's it's like that movie movie opens with this masterful Tour de force action piece of the storming of Normandy. And I think that for me. The idea was we're going to build to this race and Lemond and I wanted to be not just kind of a series of flashy vignettes of the race but that you feel what Lemond is which is essentially A twenty four hour race. which is something? I think audiences have a hard time conceiving achieving what that means that means the car is running and racing from four PM on one day till four PM the next day it's driving distance from Los Angeles to New York In twenty four hours at high speed with cars exploding revving trying to knock you off the road. On highly twisting country roads and as as Matt's character Carroll Shelby says in the movie that means night that means twelve hours of the race is in blackness and that driving continuously and you're talking about at at speeds well in excess of one hundred fifty miles an hour Approaching two or more four and and that to me seems like a battle in and of itself which you can only understand if you somehow live in it and and I kind of analyze allies my own ambivalence because I do like sports. Why do I not care so much about motor sports and felling? Most of it is because I feel like you're just watching these specs go in circles and on on TV in relationship to it. And and I thought about it and I thought about how you know most often. So you have these panning shots of cars going around and then an aerial shot and then a cut to some some quick ban and then another aerial shot and and there's some little video Chiron telling you who's in the lead and who's in second in the color analysts are kind of explaining why yellow car is in the pits or blue car is pulling ahead but you don't know and they don't know because no one knows what's going on inside the car and so I felt like the whole secret to making ranking race in anlong gated fashion. Really exciting would be to do the same thing we they did. In you know nineteen forties World War Two cockpit movies or certainly even in star wars movies or anything else which is to put you behind the wheel behind The windshield and feel what it's like back to race this car and And understand every tactic every fear every mechanical malfunction or problem from the point of view of the driver or the other heroes that are in the pits but at ground level not were an audience sits and that became kind of the the other focus in writing was you know even writing writing with images and sounds and not something that you can necessarily solve with dialogue per se but we were writing What we thought could be an act An is an accurate depiction of the events that transpired in that nineteen sixty six race. I'm so interested in that concept of being ambivalent about motor sports. So what's most appealing aside from the themes the physical challenge of trying to achieve a movie like this well. I'm a practitioner. I like to think of myself as a practitioner of cinema so the to have a world with its own unique rules like every movie to me a science fiction. Sometimes you know when I make movies that are more Like certainly the X.. Men Picture or I consider doing movies and other quote universes or people are always will use this term when they meetings like or they'll talk to my agent or someone in the go. They're looking for someone who knows how to build a world right. And and for whatever reason I now on that list of quote world builders right but every fucking dime you make a movie the you build a world. If you're making a movie about Johnny Cash and Memphis in the nineteen fifties you have to build the world. The audience knows nothing..