Producer Joel Silver is already looking at ways of bringing future projects to Germany's Babelsberg Studios even before the first scenes are shot for Larry and Andy Wachowski's action film Speed Racer
Speed Racer starts its four-month shoot Monday with a cast headed by Emile Hirsch, Susan Sarandon, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, and Matthew Fox, and also including the UK's Roger Allam, Germany's Benno Furmann and Korean popstar-actor Rain.
Speaking at an international press conference at the studios for the start of shooting, Silver recalled that he had a 'wonderful experience' with the production of V For Vendetta in Babelsberg in 2005 and noted that, thanks to the Euros 9m incentive from the recently established German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), it was 'economically advantageous for us to shoot here. We really like being in Babelsberg and in Berlin, and we are looking forward to coming back again. It is a great place to make movies and I can't say enough of how much we enjoy it and how we look for other reasons we can be here and make other movies.'
Silver explained that he and the Wachowskis had been trying to make a film based on the Speed Racer animated TV series for the past 11 years. 'Now it is the right time to make Speed Racer because the technology is advanced that we can do what we want to do,' he explained. 'Earlier, we would have been wanting to have the cars drive down a track and jump up in the air and do things we could never have done.'
He added that Speed Racer will be shot on HD rather than film in a shooting process referred to as initial capture. 'It is going to be a different way of making a movie and watching and seeing a movie,' Silver said.
Silver recalled that the Wachowski brothers had pursued this particular project as their first writing/directing collaboration since the Matrix trilogy - they had produced V For Vendetta in Babelsberg in 2005 - because 'they wanted to make a film for their nieces and nephews and friends. They have made a lot of R-rated movies and never really made films for everybody. So, it was an opportunity to make a big family movie. They have framed it in a way that is unique and fresh but keeps the essence of what Speed Racer was.'
Silver's suggestion that he would like to return to Babelsberg with other projects in the future will be sweet music to the ears of the studio management which, as part of its growth strategy, is currently planning to intensify its relationship with US majors via the acquisition of multiple picture deals for projects to shoot at the production complex outside of Berlin.
Studio Babelsberg's President and CEO Carl Woebcken explained that Speed Racer is 'a great opportunity for German talent, the German crew and also for us to work on a very high Hollywood level in terms of working with internationally renowned talent and at the forefront of modern filmmaking technologies. This film also creates jobs in the [film] industry in Berlin and Babelsberg, so it is a very important film for us.'
Speaking to ScreenDaily.com, Woebcken revealed that applications have also been submitted for production funding from the German regional funds Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and Munich-based FFF Bayern for Speed Racer which will be released by Warner Bros. on May 9 next year.