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Hollywood Spotlight [Reviews] - Gone In 60 Seconds [Production Notes]

 

Randall "Memphis" Raines (NICOLAS CAGE) long ago abandoned his life of crime, but after an ominous visit from an old friend, he finds he has no choice but to return to what he does best – stealing cars – in order to save his brother’s life. It all comes down to one night, 50 cars and a contract.

A true automobile aficionado, Memphis has a burning passion for cars. Fuel injected, high performance, V-8, V-12, turbo charged, loaded or stripped to the bare essentials, he knows and loves every nut and bolt, every gleaming piece of chrome. Memphis is a car thief of legendary proportion. No fancy lock or alarm can stop him; your car will be there and gone in 60 seconds.

For years, Memphis eluded the law while boosting every make and model imaginable, with the exception of one elusive car, his beloved Eleanor, a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500. When the heat became too intense, he left everything and everyone he loved to find a different life. But when his kid brother (GIOVANNI RIBISI) tries to follow in his footsteps only to become dangerously embroiled in a high stakes caper, Memphis is sucked back into his old life, tearing up the streets for one last death defying heist.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer brings a new dramatic edge to the 1974 cult classic "Gone In 60 Seconds," to create a character driven, fast-paced action thriller about two brothers’ struggle for redemption and love. The cast of Bruckheimer’s "Gone In 60 Seconds" boasts three Academy Award®-winners: Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie and Robert Duvall. The film also stars Giovanni Ribisi, Delroy Lindo, Will Patton, Christopher Eccleston and Chi McBride.

Touchstone Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films present "Gone in 60 Seconds." Directed by Dominic Sena, from a screenplay written by Scott Rosenberg, the producers are Jerry Bruckheimer and Mike Stenson. Jonathan Hensleigh, Chad Oman, Barry Waldman, Denice Halicki, Robert Stone & Webster Stone are executive producers. The film is distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Audiences will no doubt recognize the title "Gone in 60 Seconds" from its ’70s predecessor, but producer Jerry Bruckheimer is quick to point out the film is not simply a remake, but a complete rebuild of the popular original. "When we decided to go ahead with this project, it was important to everyone that the spirit of the original film stay intact," he says. "But we’ve enlarged the scope of the story, and more clearly defined the characters. We also added some characters and reworked the plot while maintaining elements which fans who remember and love in the original will enjoy seeing again."

Writer Scott Rosenberg first learned about the original film four years ago from The Walt Disney Studio’s then-chief of production, Michael Linton. "Michael described it in one sentence," says Rosenberg. "’They have to steal 50 cars in one night.’ I thought that was the coolest idea in the world. Jerry [Bruckheimer] and I started discussing it when we were doing ‘Con Air’ and agreed that because the hero is no longer a criminal, we had to develop a strong reason for him to be drawn back into the life he’s fought so hard to leave."

"This movie is not just for people who love cars," Bruckheimer notes. "It’s an exciting drama about a man who wants desperately to do the right and honorable thing in life but gets drawn back into a former existence, one of crime and fear. It’s a movie about making choices set against a backdrop of incredible cars."

Actor Nicolas Cage agrees. "The original was the inspiration for this film," he says. "I was surprised how many people had seen it. In the original film there was a 40-minute chase and the film focused on the chase, but this film focuses more on the relationships – there’s more motivation – I have to steal 50 cars within a couple of days to save my brother’s life."

Bruckheimer never wavered in his desire to see Nicolas Cage portray Memphis Raines. "We chased Nic from the beginning," he says. "Scott had Nic in mind when he wrote the piece. Nic was the first actor we went to and we just chased him until he finally said yes."

A noted car collector, Cage was drawn to the film not only because of the auto appeal, but also because of the dynamic new script. "There is a great group of characters," he explains. "The humanity appealed to me. Jerry understands that big things take time and he was behind us one hundred percent."

"Memphis is a character who was living on the edge for quite a while," Bruckheimer says of the main character. "He had a passion for cars even before he could drive. Jumping into a brand new Corvette made him feel good. Driving out to Palm Springs on a joyride was a blast, but he couldn’t afford to buy the car. Eventually these joyrides turned into a business and that business turned bad. He could have gotten killed. He could have spent his life in prison, but he decided to leave. Stealing was a circumstance and not really who he was."

Bruckheimer, Rosenberg and producer Mike Stenson attempted several different scenarios before settling on the idea of using a kid brother as the catalyst for Memphis’ change. Even in their initial story meeting, they agreed that the threat to Memphis’ brother had to effectuate the rest of the story. On the way home from that meeting Rosenberg began conjuring his cast of unique characters.

"The script was still evolving as we were attempting to cast all the parts," says director Dominic Sena. "We talked many of the actors through it so that they would know where we were going with the story. It was as if we were saying, ‘Just sign here and trust us,’" he laughs.

Giovanni Ribisi portrays Memphis’ younger brother Kip. "Giovanni was our first choice to play Kip," says Sena. "He’s taken on so many challenging roles in his relatively brief career; he’s just amazing for someone so young. He had this street punk thing about him; he’s a real presence."

The chemistry between the two brothers is intrinsic to the story, so the chemistry between the actors playing those roles was equally important. "Nic and Giovanni initially seem to be very different," says Sena. "But they struck a chord and share a shrewd sense of humor. They found a way to twist the dialogue and were in synch. To me they even look like brothers and share a physical resemblance."

Memphis first discovers Kip is in trouble when a ghost from his past appears; it’s his old partner, Atley Jackson. Played by Will Patton, Atley is an all too vivid reminder of Memphis’ wilder days. "He’s like a shark coming in for the kill," describes Rosenberg. "Or the devil come up from hell. That’s how Memphis sees it. Atley’s this grim reminder of the past that’s come to tell him he has to go back to hell. Will plays the role perfectly; he’s definitely got a dark edge."

Patton was cast two days before his initial scenes were shot. "I called him and offered him the role," says Sena. "He freaked out because it was Saturday and we were shooting on Monday. He said, ‘Wait a minute, when do I get to become the character? When do I do my homework?’ and I said, ‘On set, in front of the camera!’" he laughs. "We were so impressed; his performance is just incredible. He’s the consummate professional. I would hire him for anything in a nanosecond."

Memphis must assemble his team of experts who had six years earlier hung up their slimjims soon after he left town. Memphis first approaches his mentor, Otto Halliwell, who is happily and quietly running a small auto repair and finishing shop. "Otto is the Yoda of the group," says Mike Stenson. "He is the old salt of the chop shop. He understands the Zen of boosting cars and wonders where the next generation went wrong. He’s a source of knowledge and organization for the group."

"It’s a father/son kind of thing," says Robert Duvall of Otto’s relationship with Memphis. "I reared him, trained him, schooled him in the finer points of cars and then he gave it all up. Now he comes back and puts me on the spot by asking for an intense favor."

Memphis’ best friend Donny Astricky is played by Chi McBride. "Donny does not hesitate when Memphis asks him for help," explains McBride. "When Memphis finds him, he’s a driver’s ed instructor and the victim of a hapless student. Donny’s definitely gone straight, but he’s miserable in his job. And even after he’s met Kip’s gang, who don’t seem to take anything seriously, he’s still on board. We’re from the old school, we’re cautious and don’t have room for slip-ups, because the next thing you know, you’re doing a 15-year stretch at Club Fed. But Donny grows to respect Kip’s crew when he sees how well versed they are in modern technology and gadgetry. He’s reluctant, but he has to admit, they make the job easier."

The Sphinx is Memphis’ muscle. Played by British world class footballer Vinnie Jones, the Sphinx exudes an aura of mystery. Writer Rosenberg’s original script included a colorful description of Sphinx as a kid in juvenile detention; a wisecracking youth who always had an answer for everything, he finds himself in a violent altercation with other inmates. Sphinx endures the worst and the experience changes him for life. Yet another legend has it that during a big boost, he was in a chase that went horribly wrong. Either way, his character hasn’t spoken a word in years. "He doesn’t have time for idle chatter or conversation of any kind," says Jones. "He’s in his own world. He’s a bit of a psychic. Whenever Memphis is in trouble, he seems to appear. But you get the impression that something’s not right with this bloke."

Whether out of anxiety or simple fear, Memphis last approaches the love of his life, Sara Wayland, also known as Sway. She wants nothing to do with him. "He’s an old lover walking back in after six years," says Academy Award®-winner Angelina Jolie who portrays the Ferrari-loving mechanic. "He’s been gone and she thinks she’s finally gotten over him and cleaned up her life, and then he walks back in. And even when she discovers why he’s there, she’s still hesitant to become involved with him again. But she cares about Kip; he’s like a little brother to her too, so against her better judgement, she gets back into it.

"I like Sway because she’s not a woman who hates men," Jolie says. "She loves them, she’s one of them. She’s equal to them at their game, but she’s also totally female, very sexy, and she’s not going to deny that."

"Angelina turns in a stellar performance every time," says Bruckheimer of the multi-award-winning actress. "The number of accolades she has received at such a young age is amazing. She’s a relative newcomer yet she has a real point of view. Her character, Sway, is tough and pretty brash at times, but she is also somewhat vulnerable when she wants to be. She works a number of jobs and is an ambitious woman on the rise. I love characters like that."

Now Memphis must confront his brother. He quickly learns Kip has established his own crew of experts, including their childhood neighbor, Tommy Tummel now known as Tumbler. "Kip’s friends are younger with an entirely different set of skills from Memphis’ group," says Bruckheimer. "They have a great wheel man, an electronics expert, a guy who can hack into insurance files and change VIN numbers – they know all the new tricks, but they lack experience and style. Memphis also teaches them about being cautious and knowing when to walk away from a bad deal when the stakes are too high."

"We’re in it for the money," says Scott Caan of Tumbler and the rest of Kip’s gang. As Kip’s getaway man and the best driver in the group, Tumbler is always ready to put the pedal to the metal. He’s a hot head who cannot distinguish danger from excitement. Like Kip, his decisions put the entire group in jeopardy. "Tumbler butts heads with Memphis," Caan says. "And even though we’ve screwed it up before, he doesn’t think Kip needs these old guys. For Tumbler, it’s not an art; it’s not about finesse. You get a key code and the computer starts the car, there’s not as much skill involved."

William L. Scott plays the youngest of the car thieves. "Toby is a computer whiz, which is pretty ironic because I don’t know anything about computers," laughs Scott. "Memphis doesn’t want him along for the boost because he’s so young, but without his technology, they couldn’t get the Cadillacs, Mercedes or BMWs. They have to bypass all their computerized security systems, and that’s my character’s expertise."

James Duval (no relation to Robert) is Freb. He is in awe of Memphis and his gang and enamored by the history of these guys. According to Chi McBride whose character is paired with Freb, "He is the most in need of St. Jude. He’s a lost cause. Memphis, Donny and Otto are legends the proportion of Mickey Mantle or Michael Jordan."

"Freb is the guy with a heart of gold," says Duval. "He’s completely loyal in his way and will never let you down. He makes mistakes now and again, and doesn’t always do the smartest things, but his heart is in the right place."

First time actor TJ Cross is Mirror Man. A comedian from the East Coast, Cross looked for the comedic elements in the story when he first read the script. "I was wondering, where are the jokes? And then I realized there are no jokes. So Dominic and Jerry just let me go with it. At first I thought it would be a lot of sweaty guys stealing cars, but the whole cast is naturally funny, and the situation that we find ourselves in makes for funny moments. Younger people who have energy and are more spontaneous thrown together with older people who have wisdom and experience; it’s every day life. When you put someone stone faced, 6’2" like the Sphinx who never talks with someone like my character who’s 5’6" and never shuts up, it makes for a great relationship."

"We wanted to bring some humor to the movie," says director Sena. "A tape came in and the guy just cracked us up. It was TJ. We didn’t know he didn’t have any acting experience, so we brought him out and in five minutes he picked up on it. He’s very funny."

Kip and Memphis’ common enemy is the nefarious Raymond Calitri. "Calitri is a true villain," says Bruckheimer. "We decided to create this character who came to the States from England. We imagined him as a petty thief and extortionist who expanded his repertoire to became a vicious criminal. He has effectively eliminated all the competition in town and controls whatever he touches. Unfortunately, Kip has entered into a deal with him, and Calitri doesn’t really care what it takes to get the job done or that Memphis must risk everyone he loves to boost these cars, he just wants the goods and he’s willing to kill Kip in the bargain."

"In a perverse way, Calitri is not too concerned about watching them fail," says British actor Christopher Eccleston. "Calitri is a businessman who is quite detached. He’s not particularly interested in what he’s selling, it’s simply the way he makes his money."

But to make matters worse, while trying to complete the job for Calitri, Memphis must deal with his old rival, Johnny B, who is convinced Memphis is back in town to reestablish his territory. Master P makes a cameo appearance as the gangster who has taken over Memphis’ turf.

In addition, while planning their caper and watching their backs from Calitri and his henchmen, they must also keep a close eye out for the law. Detective Roland Castlebeck has been following Memphis’ illustrious career for years, often getting close enough to obtain damaging evidence, but never so near as to be able to arrest him. Castlebeck is one of the reasons Memphis left town all those years ago.

"Castlebeck’s beef with Memphis is personal, based on what I felt had been their history together," Delroy Lindo says of his character. "It’s personal. They’re similar in many ways. After speaking with some police officers who do this work day in and day out, I found there’s sometimes a mutual appreciation for cars among the officers and the thieves. Between Castlebeck and Memphis, there’s a genuine respect because they’re both the best at what they do. If it weren’t for the fact that they’re on opposite sides of the law, they’d probably be good friends."

As Detective Roland Castlebeck, Lindo stars as the best of the Los Angeles’ auto theft task force. Bruckheimer has been after the actor to star in one of his pictures for years, but schedule conflicts kept Lindo from accepting various roles. And even though the actor was starring in another film during production of "Gone in 60 Seconds," the filmmakers decided to juggle the shooting schedule to accommodate him.

"Delroy is so distinctive," declares Bruckheimer. "His performances are amazing. He’s just one of the best. Everything he does is seemingly effortless, but if you watch him prepare off camera, he is aware of every fine detail. He did as much research as possible and was always taking advantage of the experts we had available on set. He was insistent on wearing the gun, the cuffs, all the accouterment, even if it was uncomfortable or wasn’t needed in the shot, he’s just that exacting. That makes for a distinct presence on screen."

Even though Castlebeck admires Memphis’ expertise, he is first and foremost a cop. He illustrates his case by teaching a novice to the auto theft task force, Detective Drycoff, the ropes. Timothy Olyphant plays Castlebeck’s partner.

An actor with a terrific sense of comic timing, Olyphant was a contrast to the more serious Lindo. "My first reaction when I read the script was that there was very little in the way of dialogue for me," says the young actor. "So I started circling some of Delroy’s lines that I thought would be good. I tried reasoning with the writer, but it didn’t do any good," he jokes.

Bruckheimer is known for his large ensemble casts and goes out of his way to include actors with even the smallest parts to become part of the production family. He encourages everyone to contribute and takes time to listen to every suggestion. "It’s part of the process," he says. "That’s why I got into this business. It’s of no use if you don’t foster an air of collaboration. We’ve always welcomed input from any quarter, good ideas aren’t part of some ethereal hierarchy." But Bruckheimer is also quick to point out that Dominic Sena determined the tone for the set. "Dominic has an enormous amount of energy," he says. "And he’s always smiling. If the director keeps it light and he’s a good guy, then everything will work out fine, even on difficult days. It starts with the director and Dominic was someone everyone wanted to work for because they truly like him."

Bruckheimer has been after Sena to direct a film since 1992. "There’s an energy to Dominic’s work that’s amazing," the producer notes. "It’s not just the beautiful lighting, it’s the humor and fast pace he brings to whatever he does. The worst thing for me is to sit in a theatre and feel bored by what I see on screen. Dominic’s images are intriguing; everything he does adds to the narrative of the story. Dominic is a true artist."

When Sena signed on, Bruckheimer was not aware that the director had actually worked for the original film’s director in 1979/1980. "When I first came to L.A., I was hired by Toby Halicki as a camera operator," explains Sena. "He gave me a copy of the original ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ and said, ‘Kid, here’s my first movie. I made it for a million bucks and this one’s going to be even better. So I worked with him for about three or four weeks on ‘The Junkman’ until the stunts became too crazy," he describes. "Toby had a lot of energy and enthusiasm."

According to Sena, the filmmakers’ task was to reinvigorate the stunt work as well as the story line. "People knew the movie and the chase scene so we had to raise the bar and pull out all the stops. Lots of hairy close calls without too much catastrophic destruction, and because Nic [Cage] did the driving, it’s very real. If there are any stunt men, it’s marginal. Besides, I think he drives as well as the stunt men do; he’s an amazing driver – he can do anything they can do."

"Nic set the tone and everyone had a ball," says Bruckheimer. "The studio was seeing the dailies and then they realized Nic was driving the car, driving very fast," he laughs. "And all of a sudden we had visitors on the set to make sure it was safe, so we pulled him back twenty percent." But for Cage, who loves to drive, that was easier said than done.

"I don’t really enjoy stunt driving per se," Cage lets on. "I do a lot of it in this film – 360s and 180s, burning rubber and all that. It’s what was necessary for the character. I prefer driving fast. Speed on an open road or track is more what appeals to me."

For Sena the difficulty lay in creating something audiences hadn’t seen before. He was a vigilant protector of his characters when it came to devising the stunt work (with stunt coordinator Chuck Picerni, Jr.,) which often times became a character in itself, serving to move the plot forward. "You don’t want to bore the audience with old gags. And for me it was important to keep the humanity, keeping the players involved – the flavor of the relationship Nic has with the car. It’s not just all sheet metal."

Rosenberg’s script direction said simply: "Look, chase scenes are like love scenes, what makes one man hot leaves another cold. This ain’t us shirking responsibility, but the only thing duller than writing chase scenes is reading them … Suffice it to say, this will be one exciting chase."

"It can be tough for a writer to create these things without having seen different locations," concedes Picerni. "It’s tough to envision what the director or the stunt coordinator has in mind. On this film, the process of creating the end chase sequence evolved over the months we were shooting. Dominic and I and Johnny Martin [Picerni’s assistant coordinator] reworked the plans many times."

The driving force behind the chase is Memphis’ ongoing relationship with one particular car, a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500 he calls Eleanor. He and his buddies demonstrate their affection for the cars they take by giving each a girl’s name. Designating proper names also operates as a practical code so that the authorities are unaware of which automobile is about to be stolen.

"It’s a car he’s never been able to obtain in all the years he’s been stealing cars," explains Picerni. "He’s never been able to capture this prize. Holding on to Eleanor is the culmination of years of frustration, and he decides this is it, this is the one and the heat is on because this is the last time I will have a chance to get this car.

"There are so many great car chases," he continues. "We wanted to make this one different, but we really took care not to go over the top. We added interesting elements and some unique locations to make the stunts and the chase exciting in their own entity rather than going for the crash and bang."

"That’s the trickiest thing about this chase scene," says Sena. "You have to be more inventive because you don’t have bad guys chasing after good guys firing rounds at them, leaving death and destruction in their wake. It had to be big and spectacular and exciting so that the audience will get caught up in it, but nobody can get hurt. I was adamant about that. This is a car thief with a good heart who’s doing what he’s doing because he is trying to save his brother’s life and there’s no other way to do it. So good guys are chasing good guys. In this respect, we went into it with one hand tied behind our back. We couldn’t have big crashes or blow anything up or hurt people. Hopefully we found a way to make it exciting without getting anyone’s hair mussed!"

The most intricate part of the chase involved shutting down the Vincent Thomas Bridge, which links Long Beach and San Pedro. Luckily for the filmmakers, the city was retrofitting the bridge periodically throughout the year, closing it down on intermittent weekends during the months of filming. Supervising location manager Laura Sode-Matteson worked tirelessly to secure the proper permits, enlisting the aid of The California Film Commission, the California Department of Transportation, the Cities of Long Beach and San Pedro, the Port of Los Angeles as well as the Entertainment Industry Development Corporation. Each agency was integral in assisting the production company with pulling off this most complex sequence. No complete closure of the bridge has ever been done before. On two different weekends in October and November, the production team descended, creating an accident scene as a major obstacle in Memphis’ escape route. Stunt coordinator Picerni and visual effects supervisor Boyd Sherman worked with Sena to create the fantastic visual of Memphis jumping Eleanor up and over the tangle of cars, fire equipment, ambulances and unsuspecting pedestrians.

Cage, Ribisi and co-star Angelina Jolie prepared for their roles by training at a variety of driving schools as well as with professional mechanics. Ribisi went so far as to build his own car. With the help of a professor from Pasadena City College, he rebuilt a 1967 Camaro using a 502-crate engine from Chevrolet. Robert Duvall whose character Otto Halliwell knows literally everything about cars, inside and out, learned the detailed techniques of pinstriping and custom paint design with a professional in the field watching over him on the set during filming.

Even Christopher Eccleston was encouraged to participate in the adventure. "I don’t think Chris knew what he was in for," jokes Sena. "We hadn’t written the ending when he signed on, so he didn’t know he was going to have to hang three or four stories up in the air from a metal cable and then fall. He actually did it over and over, at least a dozen times."

Rigged to a device called a decelerator, Eccleston earned the kudos of cast and crew alike when on one of his first nights of shooting, he allowed himself to be hoisted high into the air and dropped at a high rate of speed to the ground. The camera, mounted above Eccleston on a crane, was placed to shoot his fall as if from the top of a high rise building. Eccleston wore a harness under his costume, which was clipped to a cable (attached to a paddle system that controls the speed of descent) and then hoisted into the air so that he could freely move his arms and legs as he falls. The stunt crew placed safety catchers (large portable pads) on the ground to break his fall should anything untoward happen with the cable. Picerni and Martin oversaw the actor’s inaugural high wire stunt work.

"I had to cling to the crane and then let go and drop," says Eccleston. "And I’m not good with heights. They wanted my face big in the camera. I was supposed to fall backwards, firing all the while. The first time they released me, it wasn’t fun, but after that it just became part of the job."

"When we started the shot he was definitely nervous," reports Martin. "But after we dropped him the first time, he couldn’t wait to get up again, and when we thought he’d had too much and we’d better quit, Chris told us he wanted to do it again until it was perfect. He ended up pushing us. He was phenomenal."

Production designer Jeff Mann acted as the official car guru throughout the production. An avid car collector, whose father was a highly skilled auto mechanic, Mann has rebuilt and restored many of his own cars from the time he was in high school. "I am a big gear head," admits Mann. "There were carburetors on my dining room table ever since I was a little kid. I grew up being weaned on foreign cars and discovered American cars, hotrods and muscle cars as a teenager.

"I definitely related to the script – to the love and fascination of the car, to putting it above all else, if only symbolically," Mann says. "That emotional core of the script rang true for me and on certain occasions, Dominic would ask me to share that with him to keep him clear about the car lover’s point of view."

Mann, along with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, designed the look of the hero car, Eleanor, a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500. Mann brought several choice automobiles to the table: the newest from Carroll Shelby, a two-seat roadster Series 1 to a GT 40 made by Ford as a Le Mans car when Bruckheimer decided to take the Shelby Mustang GT 500 to the next level. "Jerry’s decision was double edged," says Mann. "You want the car to be as aggressive and sexy as it possibly can be on screen, but you don’t want to stray so far from what the car really is that you offend the Shelby purists out there." To make sure they didn’t stray too far, Mann called on the services of Steve Stanford who created a rendering of the car with the modifications and specs the filmmakers requested. After several revisions, Bruckheimer okayed the design and selected metallic black and pewter tones for the Mustang’s exterior.

According to Mann, Carroll Shelby, who has been involved in the car racing circuit since the 1950s, originally designed the first Shelby Cobra using an AC Bristol. Mann describes it as a two-seat, open car with an aluminum body. Built in England, they were powered by an anemic four-cylinder engine. Shelby had the wherewithal to transplant a small block Ford 260-cubic inch V-8 engine into these cars. With the aluminum chassis and short wheelbase, they were perfect for racing. This car became the Shelby Cobra, also known as the AC Cobra. Shelby began manufacturing the Cobra from 1961 through 1967; they were used both in racing and as street cars.

After entering into a partnership with Ford, Shelby began retrofitting Mustangs, making modifications to the suspension as well as other changes. Shelby sold the cars through the company’s many dealerships. These cars were the Shelby Mustangs, the first of which was the 1965 GT 350. In 1966 the demand for these cars was so high that Ford took over manufacturing because Shelby’s factory was not equipped to handle this kind of volume. True purists consider 1965 and 1966 cars made in his shop the only true Shelbys. The Ford Company utilized Shelby’s designs and with his blessing continued to put out these high performance cars, including the 1967 GT 500. Currently these cars range in price from $20,000 to $80,000 for a low mileage, mint condition original.

For the film, Mann and transportation coordinator Bryce Williams enticed the master of car restoration, Ray Claridge at Cinema Vehicle Services, to build the 11 Shelby replicas needed. Although the 11 have the same sleek exterior, each automobile was designed with a specific purpose in mind and includes different internal components – some go fast in a straight line, some have special braking systems along with rack and pinion steering and heavy duty suspensions in order to perform more spectacular spin outs, lock ups and slides. One was designed as a rear wheel right-hand drive car so that a stuntman could sit next to Cage and control the car during sequences that were too intricate and dangerous for the actor to perform himself. Two others had no engines; one was used as a tow car and the other a process car, which was cut into different pieces so that sections could be easily removed for camera placement. But the majority of the cars were multi-purpose, fitted with after-market suspension systems, heavy-duty rear ends, four-wheel disc brakes and high-performance crate motors. A twelfth car, the first to be built, was a prototype for the overall design concept.

With the help of Williams and picture car coordinator Mike Antunez, the filmmakers researched many vehicles in assembling the list of cars Kip must deliver to Calitri. Initially Bruckheimer, Sena, and Mann pinned photos on the wall and spent a couple of hours brainstorming, picking their favorites. The next step was to whittle down that list to include cars that were not only plausible in terms of the story line, but also available. The list continued to change as the cameras rolled. Williams and Antunez worked incessantly, searching for cars. They looked on the Internet, via word of mouth, at specialty car shows and through private collectors for some of the rarer models.

"We went through hundreds of possibilities," Bruckheimer says. "We wanted to keep the list interesting, yet we had to include some staples in there, like Suburbans and Toyotas. Of course Calitri’s clients would also be looking for sexy makes like Lamborghini and Ferrari. One of my favorites was a 1950 Mercury. I think we came up with an even mix."

Keeping up with the mix of cars on Calitri’s list of 50 was also important to the technical advisors. The filmmakers counted on three undercover police officers--two from the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force (OCATT) and one from the Taskforce for Regional Auto Theft Prevention (TRAP), multijurisdictional law enforcement agencies in Orange and Los Angeles Counties--as well as a reformed car thief who is one of the many success stories of California’s prison rehabilitation program. This young man, only in his early 20s, was a prolific thief specializing in Porsche and Mercedes. Although he cannot claim title to every crime, overall car theft in Orange County decreased nearly 17% when he and his accomplices were arrested and convicted. Coincidentally, he was incarcerated at Folsom Prison when Bruckheimer and Cage visited the facility in preparation for their film "Con Air." He contends that newer cars "are that much more difficult to steal" and insists that in only a year or two, anti-theft devices have improved considerably rending many of his skills antiquated but not entirely useless. Accompanied by a law enforcement agent, this deft maestro was always on set during boost sequences.

"Our technical advisors were invaluable," says director Sena. "You can’t pick up a book and read how to steal a Testarosa or what’s the fastest way into a Porsche. You have to talk to people who did it for a living. They gave us a crash course and were there to advise if we were making it look too easy."

"Having your car stolen is a horrible experience," says Bruckheimer. "Like being robbed it’s a serious violation, but it happens somewhere in America every two seconds. No matter how many precautions you take, you simply must be aware that your car is never completely safe. Just like the title says, it could be here one minute, and then gone in 60 seconds."


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