Courtney Solomon directs Selena Gomez and Ethan Hawke.

Interview: Courtney Solomon (2013) Getaway

Getaway literally is a high-octane thrill ride, starring Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez. The two protagonists are trapped inside a powerful muscle car and forced to do the bidding of a mysterious man who gives them instructions via voice commands while he watches their every move through special cameras mounted on the vehicle. For all of its expensive looking shots, Getaway could have saved itself some of its PR budget simply by having director Courtney Solomon do all its radio and TV ads; this man is a bundle of energy who loves to talk about his film. Solomon spoke briefly with Working Author about his experiences working on the film.

“I wanted to be able and make these car crashes real and visceral, and you know the difference if it’s computer generated versus real because you can feel it as an audience,” Courtney Solomon says, regarding why he made this film. “And then the next thing that I had to create to enhance this was…cameras on the inside and the outside of the car…mounted to it. Because [the villain] is watching everything [the protagonists] are doing, plus I had [the villain] in control of every street cam and any cam [the protagonists] went by, which, in our world, is lots. So I had 27 – 42 cameras in every shot that we did, which just mad an unbelievable amount of footage, but also an unbelievable amount of energy in a way you haven’t seen. This movie has 6100 cuts; the average movie has 1500. So it’s 4 movies in 1 movie. Just to give you an idea.”

Getaway does have a lot of different angles to consider, and it’s almost impossible to take it all in. “And for some people it’s going to go by too quickly and they’re gonna go, ‘Oh my God, this is too crazy!’ It’s a movie you have to watch 2 or 3 times to fully appreciate, because actually, in all that fast cutting, you see every story point that you’d ever want to see or everything you thought you should see, but it goes by so quickly that you need to see it again – literally.” And because there’s so much content and so much happening on the screen, another challenge was sound design. With so many crashes and explosions and different vehicle sounds, it would take an amazing crew to capture it all. “The guys who mixed Superman mixed Superman before they mixed this. It was the Warner (Bros.) mixing crew there. They said this was a bigger, harder job than Superman because it’s just got so much detail. And everything is traipsing over everything. You gotta separate it all so that you can hear everything and it helps enhance the whole experience.”

Audiences may be charmed and surprised to know that all of the cameras on the Shelby GT500 Super Snake were all functioning cameras that were actually recording footage. “We had a big brain in the back of the car that controlled all the cameras, and we had to turn each one on individually so that it would be recording and then we’d be ready to go, “Solomon explains. “So when I was watching, there’d be all the cameras in the street we’d have to check separately at the end of the take, but the monitors would be split into 18 different views of the inside and the outside of the car. So when I’m watching as they’re doing the takes, I’m trying to get my eyes on all the different views and pick which one is gonna work for me, and obviously when you’re doing a movie like this, less takes is more because every take is danger.”

And then, of course, there was the editing process. Solomon’s tone lists with incredulity as he speaks, “I’ll give you some stats…that are interesting to people.  It’s 630 hours of source footage. That’s 20 movies approximately – normal movies of source footage. That’s 33 days, 24 hours a day without any breaks to watch all the dailies for Getaway. Just to watch them; not to cut a frame. Just to watch. So we spent 9 months physically editing the picture, not including the 4-month editors assembly and all the time we spent editing while we were shooting. And then we spent 3 months mixing this movie, so it was totally like a year and a month and a half, including color correction and everything like that of just post production on this movie. Wild.” He pauses for effect. “Because every scene you’d have to go in and look at all the footage and spend 2 to 3 days just viewing the footage and selecting your selects…before you even cut a frame together…. The bins were mindboggling. 29 terabytes of storage to hold the movie. We had to have a special server. The whole thing was ridiculousness on top of ridiculousness.”

See Getaway now playing in theaters.


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