Grand Prix

Dod Mantle also shot on Phantom High Speeds and Canon EOS C300s—"great as they’re so robust and powerful," he says. Because the C300s, which ran every day, have PL mounts, he was able to use the same set of his favorite and "very historic" prime lenses. "They’re Baltars, the beautiful, if temperamental, lenses Gordon Willis used to shoot The Godfather, and Cooke S2s—and all nearly 50 years old," he reports. "Again, it was a matter of studying the archival footage and working out how to match it with modern 2K and RAW image-capture cameras. It’s no good just doing it in grade afterwards. You have to do much more than that, and work with aberrations and refractions in camera while you’re shooting. You have to work hard with the image, and I’ve often done that in other films, but I really had to do it to a massive degree on this film."

Dod Mantle used a Codex to capture data, "as I always want the best image capture latitude possible, in the exact quality I want," he states. "This is maybe an older, less defined look, but always with the maximum latitude. Then I take it from there. I hate burnt-out skies and killing the blacks on set, shooting-wise."

Principal photography lasted some 11 weeks, with eight weeks of second unit. "I had a very strong second unit DP, Michael Wood, who was an immense help, and Ron’s longtime guy, Todd Hallowell, led the team," reports Dod Mantle. Locations included Germany and the UK and various racetracks in England, which doubled for other tracks. "It was very tough trying to shoot sunny, sexy Brazil on some asphalt just outside London, and we had to contend with freezing cold in winter and then heavy rain in summer," he notes. "So, we had to light the hell out of the place."

The archival footage had to be re-treated and approved by the DP and post team at Double Negative before it went to editorial, and Dod Mantle recalls one example where the director was able to make good use of what seemed like unsalvageable material. "We had these great archival helicopter shots of the Nürburgring, of course, of atrocious quality, but with over 250,000 fans below—the kind of production value that we, on a semi-British indie film, simply couldn’t afford to shoot, or create in post, either," he explains. "I tested it and tested it, and tried to regrade it and then put it through the ARRI Relativity noise-reduction system—everything I could think of to try and bring it back to life. But there was no point of focus, colossal motion blur issues, and we all reluctantly agreed that we just couldn’t use it, which was so disappointing to Ron." But it was Howard who found the solution. "He had this brilliant idea of building a foreground bubble of a helicopter in CGI, so that you suddenly had a forced foreground with the rest of the frame out of focus for good reason," he recalls.

Visual effects were handled by Double Negative, who did most of the 700 shots, with Pixomondo also contributing work. "Getting the right people involved and integrating all the VFX and post into production is so important now as these films get bigger and bigger," notes the DP. "I had a great experience with Dredd and the guys from Prime Focus, and it was the same case with this and DNeg VFX supervisor Jody Johnson. They came onboard early enough so they could see all the early tests with me and really understand all the problems we were facing. And it also helped him hear what kind of resolution and angle I wanted to shoot, so he knew how much effort to spend on detail in some shots in post. So, it was a very tight group that’s continuing to work together on Ron’s new film."

Rush was edited by Howard’s longtime collaborators Dan Hanley and Mike Hill, and the DI was done at CO3 in London with grader Adam Glasman. "I spent about three weeks on the DI," reports Dod Mantle. "And part of our spend was a CinePost 2K mobile cinema that came from Germany, and I had two graders working on grading the dailies 24/7 while I was shooting, so I could go into this caravan that followed me around all the time on set." The DP began training the graders early on in production by grading the dailies with them "to get them exactly how I wanted them," he says. "That way, there’d be no misunderstandings or sudden late changes in editorial. I wanted to nail the look down right away, and it’s a very radical look, I think. And Ron really embraced it and trusted me."

"I’m really happy with the way it turned out," sums up Howard, who’s already reteamed with Dod Mantle on his next film, In the Heart of the Sea, "and I think it’s a great ride that’s both very emotional and very exciting."

For more information, visit the film’s official website at