One surprise to come out of this year’s Comic-Con was the opportunity to sit down with director Courtney Solomon (An American Haunting) to discuss his upcoming thriller, Getaway. The picture stars Ethan Hawke as burnt-out ex-racecar driver Brent Magna who commandeers a suped-up Shelby Cobra Mustang under the orders of a faceless villain who threatens to kill Magna’s kidnapped wife. In this interview, Solomon talked about the use of practical and dangerous stunts like the car movies of old, seeing the Mustang as the third character in the film, and upping the intensity to new levels. Solomon also commented on the insane amount of cuts (6,100) and sound design elements (over 22,000) for the film, in addition to his hopes to release a B-version.
Getaway, also starring Selena Gomez, opens August 30th. Hit the jump to see what Solomon had to say.
Courtney Solomon: Oh, no. Not at all. My company, After Dark Films, usually has a booth here so I think we’ve been here for the last four or five years, but my first one must have been 12 or 12 years ago. I was just saying to somebody else how much it’s changed. I was like, “Wow!”
So did you come originally as a fan or for work?
Solomon: Originally it was sort of like a quasi thing of both. The first time I came here, I was looking for properties to acquire so I had that in my mind, but I was a fan as well. I collected every – except for the really expensive ones – every issue of Amazing Spider-Man, every issue of the X-Men when I was seven years old on. I still have a third of my collection. I have some Silver Surfers, so … a fan in that regard, yes.
So, as a fan, what are your thoughts on how everything has changed with the popularity of Comic-Con and the superhero genre in films?
Solomon: You ask me personally, I liked it better 12 years ago. It felt special. You’d come down here for three days, you enjoyed it. I walked through the whole convention center, I’d meet all these cool people but they were all comic-related, from the big booths to the small booths … there were some game crossover, obviously, role-playing game crossover. Now it’s, for lack of a better word, commercialized. I think it lost some of its charm. I still think it’s a fantastic event, I don’t know, that’s just selfish I guess but I enjoyed the intimacy of it. If you’re in the entertainment business, now you come down here and you see everyone you see at home.
Originally you said you came to Comic-Con with the intention of picking up properties. How did you get involved with Getaway?
Solomon: Well Getaway was a script that was submitted to us for production and I read it and thought it would be a cool movie to make. So I sort of took it over and made it, that’s how I got involved. Sometimes it’s not usually that simple, but it usually starts with a script. What I liked was the whole concept of it, the concept of … you’re thrown into some weird circumstance that’s very difficult, there’s somebody watching you so you’ve got a Phone Booth aspect to it, if you will, and if you don’t do what they say, the stakes are unimaginable to the average person, whether it be a family member, a girlfriend of a wife. If somebody actually did that and said, “Okay, you’ve got to give me 17 perfect press interviews on Collider including Entertainment Tonight, CNN or whatever, or else I’m going to kill your girlfriend or your wife,” you know? You’d go find a way to do it. It’s a question of how far is somebody willing to go.
It’s interesting because I’ve seen some comparisons online saying, “Oh, well, it’s Taken.” It’s not Taken at all. In Taken, Liam goes on a vendetta and goes after them. In this particular place, Ethan has a moment where he decides to take matters into his own hands because he realizes he’s got to do something, but for a good portion of the movie, he’s the pawn. It’s different instincts. He’s doing stuff that he doesn’t want to do, it just so happens that he has the ability to do because he’s a burnt-out ex-racecar driver.
You mentioned Phone Booth, does most of the movie take place in and around the car?
Solomon: Most of the movie. I would say 80-85% is in the car, 20% is out of the car. That’s all completely plot-oriented and directed. It’s all servicing the plot.
That’s a hell of a car to pick, too.
Solomon: It is the third star of the movie. Everyone is saying, “How is it with Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez?” and I say, “You’re forgetting the third star.” And they’re like, “The car?” It’s totally a star. The car culture will love this. The movie took place in an Eastern European city, so they presented me Porsches and they presented me Mercedes, I mean I love these cars and they’re all super cool, too. But this is the quintessential American muscle car, so I thought it’s cooler to do that and cooler to have it be a fish out of water. The villain has designed this car specifically for this task. It could have been any car, but it’s got to be a car that’s going to be able to make it, so to speak. He does say, in the movie, “This is a very special car designed especially for you. It’s armored.” It has been completely decked out in a very special way.
Special Edition. I wonder if that will be available when the movie comes out.
Solomon: They could be, I mean they’re expensive. We did happen to trash a real one while we were making the movie, which was not supposed to happen.
Everybody was okay though?
Solomon: One person was slightly injured. The interesting thing about Getaway, which I think helps with the audience and it makes it interesting to me, is that all the stunts are real. There are no CG car crashes, not even one in the entire movie; everything is a practical stunt. There were always people in danger doing these things, stunt men … they’re really going 60 miles per hour, they’re really crashing into another car, they’re really flying through the air and smashing onto the pavement, and then they’re getting out of the car. In fact, what we did create is –and I think the audience will find this interesting – is a bunch of things coming out this month on the internet that’s just about the real crashes. So you see the scene from the movie and then you see the behind-the-scenes shot, and then you see the guy walk out of the car, so you say, “Oh, it is real! They’re not just marketing this? This is really the way it is!”
I just thought it makes it authentic and we don’t have the budget of a Fast and the Furious 6, so I thought, “Let’s go back to what Bullitt did, let’s go back to what the original movies did.” And when we started the movies, besides researching the cars that were out there, because I have to admittedly say, I know so much more about cars now than I did before I did this movie. I always liked nice cars – who doesn’t? – but I didn’t know that much about them. Now I know. But I just thought, because we can’t be Fast and the Furious, let’s go back to the original Fast and the Furious, for a contemporary example, because all the stunts were real.
Now, since you mentioned Bullitt…
Solomon: And the original Getaway, yeah…
Solomon: Absolutely, 100%. I wanted it to be as real as it possibly could. It is an intense experience. I shouldn’t say this, but I honestly think there are going to be a bunch of people who don’t even get it because it’s so … they’ll get the movie, that’s easy enough … but there are 6,100 cuts in this movie. There were 26 to 42 cameras on every shot. It’s part of the story, because they’re being watched all the time. But it cuts so much it’s almost ahead of its time. You think to yourself, in 15 years, just like things have progressed so much since 10 years ago or 15 years ago, and if you look at one of our action sequences now and say it’s real, just like Bullitt was real, our action sequences are so much more intense. Even the sound design, over 22,000 sounds for the Shelby we designed. It was insane. It just never seemed to end when we were doing it. I just built myself into a box. So I think in that way it moves so quickly, with the sound and all those cuts, it’s a super intense experience and that’s what I wanted. I want the movie to start, I want you thrown into this situation, there is no mercy until you get yourself out of it.
Solomon: Oh my God. It will be the sexiest Blu-ray extras you’ve ever seen, for sure. An average movie has about twenty-odd hours of source footage … we have 630, so do the math. I actually wanted to do one version of the movie as a B-version that we’d put up just from the perspective of the guys watching cameras. No traditional RED cams, no traditional photography at all, just cutting between things. The story is still the same, but you end up with an entirely different movie. And I would really love the opportunity to cut that together and give people the opportunity to watch A and B. And one day I’d love to see this in 3D because that would be the most intense experience you could imagine.
And everything’s coming out in 3D whether it’s a new release or a retro conversion.
Solomon: And this is really like craziness. I mean even from the trailer, you see some of those things flipping into the camera. Imagine if you were watching that in 3D. There have to be 20 moments like that in the movie, forgetting about the ones that aren’t quite as impactful.