The “Fast and Furious” films have become one of the biggest action franchises in Hollywood thanks to its ridiculous mixture of high-speed car chases and pulse-pounding stunts.
The latest film out of the high-octane saga, “Furious 7,” continues that trend. But, surprisingly, one of the most insane stunts in the film was almost never filmed.
2nd unit director, Spiro Razatos, a 30-year veteran stuntman who has been responsible with overseeing the crazy action sequences in the franchise since “Fast Five,” told Business Insider the scene in which Brian (Paul Walker) tracks down hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) from a bus travelling at high speeds in the mountains of Colorado, almost didn’t make it into the film.
“In Colorado, they didn’t want to shoot there because there wasn’t a tax break,” Razatos said.
Films both large and small try to shoot movies in states that provide tax breaks as they receive incentives for shooting there. In some cases this includes receiving cash grants, fee-free shooting locations, and lodging exemptions.
Razatos, who is also responsible for directing the “air drop” sequence in “Furious 7” where Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian, and the rest of the crew drop their cars out of a plane, said he not only had to talk the producers into shooting the mountain sequence in Colorado, but convince them to film it at all.
The producers were concerned the sequence would go too long if an elaborate chase for the bus through the mountains followed the air drop. The mountain sequence also included a dramatic fight where Brian has to jump off of it before the bus falls off a cliff. The producers suggested, according to Razatos, that after the cars fall from the sky, “We get [the cars] on the road, [save the girl], and get away.”
In doing this, they wanted Razatos to film the chase in Georgia, a state that provides a tax break for film productions, and then they’d add woods in the background later in post production.
They would completely scrap shooting the bus-falling-off-a-cliff stunt.
Razatos convinced the producers to spend the money so they could do the mountain sequence for real in Colorado.
“I told them, ‘Trust me, it’s going to pay off,'” Razatos told BI. “‘The audience is going to know [it’s CGI] and aren’t going to feel good about it.’ The studio came through at the end and let me go out to a place nobody would let you go shoot without a tax break nowadays and trusted me.”
The sequence, which included tipping a real bus off a cliff as a stunt person jumped off it, was all done without any computer graphics.
Paul Walker’s brother Cody shared an image of how it looked on set:
“Other than taking out the moving wires,” which is worn by the stuntmen, “none of that is enhanced with computer graphics,” Razatos boasted.
“That was my biggest moment,” said Razatos about being able to film the bus-going-off-the-cliff. “It turned out to be the pivotal point in the sequence.”
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