Senna The Movie

Senna is a marvelous, gripping, emotional piece of documentary filmmaking. You must go see this movie.

I knew quite a lot about Senna because I was lucky enough to be selected to film a commercial for Goodyear tires years ago…we had full access to Senna and his team to show how the technology that Goodyear used on the F1 track was transferred to the family car. Tall task for sure but off I went with little or no knowledge of F1, directly to Imola, Italy for a week of immersion into the lives of a Formula One driver and his team.

Even after that experience I still didn’t know much about Ayrton Senna’s life and career before watching the film. I know that he was perhaps the greatest driver ever – not just of his era, but ever – and his life was cut short ironically one year exactly after my week with the team and even more ironic at the exact same track.

When Senna begins, most of its viewers already know how it ends: With the life of Ayrton Senna, one of the greatest race car drivers ever to walk the planet, suddenly and tragically killed in a racing accident.

So it was with a sense of foreboding and slight apprehension that I settled in to watch a documentary which has already created worldwide buzz and been a success at the European box office.

I forgot all about the ending because I was quickly drawn into the images and excitement and joy of Senna’s vibrant life, fascinated by his love and passion for racing and excellence. 
In many ways, the film was an education. And it certainly serves that purpose. But even for longtime Formula One fans who adored Senna or simply followed his career closely, there are many new things to see.

Senna is packed with rare footage dug up from Bernie Ecclestone’s F1 archives. The filmmakers had unprecedented and unlimited access to thousands of hours of film as well as video from the Senna family’s private collection.

The director Asif Kapadia never needed the viewers to take their eyes off Senna for even one second. Most documentaries lean on showing us modern-day interviews to fill the gaps between the archived footage; in Senna, though, we only hear the voices of the interview subjects as the film keeps rolling with shot after shot of the fascinating Brazillian.

Even though nothing was scripted it has all the elements that make a great blockbuster movie: Tension. Action. Conflict. Joy. Tragedy…the film is very, very real…a fact we’re reminded of when Senna’s demise eventually arrives .

Don’t miss Senna. The film does justice to the greatness of the man himself and the sport of Formula One.

New Equifax TVC

I just finished producing 3 spots for the Atlanta based client…we shot in LA…certainly hope they are successful….here is my favorite of the three…

Hollywood Visit

I am going to LA next week to produce a TV commercial and decided to blog about some of the experiences…I am not even there yet and I am already thinking to visit one of its great landmarks.

If there is one landmark that says “Hollywood” to the world – literally! – it is the famous Hollywood Sign, perched high atop Mount Lee, the tallest peak in L.A.

The Sign measures 450 feet long, its mammoth letters are 45 feet high, and it’s visible from all parts of Hollywood. Erected in 1923 as an advertising sign for a real estate development in Beachwood Canyon, the Sign originally read “Hollywoodland.” The last four letters were removed in 1945, after Hollywood had become the world’s movie capital, and the Sign had already become a well-known landmark. (In fact, it’s been officially declared “Los Angeles Cultural-Historical Monument #111.”)

In 1932, during the Great Depression, one despondent young actress, Peg Entwistle, even jumped to her death from the Sign’s giant letter “H.”

The original sign contained thousands of light bulbs, which were changed daily by a caretaker who lived in a small house behind one of the Sign’s giant “L’s.”

And in the 1998 Disney remake of “Mighty Joe Young,” the oversized ape climbs the Hollywood Sign and perches in one of its giant letter “O.”s

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to reach the Sign itself, which is located atop an undeveloped hillside, far from roads. And if you did manage to reach the area, you would discover that the Sign has been fenced in to keep out the curious, and that a new high-tech alarm system has recently been installed.  Boo.

The best way to see the Hollywood Sign is to drive up Beachwood Drive. The Sign is clearly visible most the way up Beachwood, That is where my other “must” visit landmark is located…the Village Cafe or as the locals call it, the Beachwood Cafe.


Behind the scenes of Visa’s television commercial “Dining Out”

A truly international cast and crew created a visual feast of martial arts set in an action-packed humorous plot. At the helm of the hundred person cast and crew is Australian director Bruce Hunt, who is also Second Unit Director of Hollywood blockbuster science fiction movie “The Matrix”. Mr. Hunt teamed up with Hong Kong martial arts coordinator Ridley Po Wah Tsui, Filipino creative director David Guerrero and American executive producer Jerry Gentemann to concoct this richly entertaining commercial for Visa.

Shot in Hong Kong after four months of preparation, Visa’s “Dining Out” stars Zhang Ziyi, the latest Asian actress to achieve international stature through her stunning performance in the award-winning film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.

A Beijing native, Ms. Zhang was encouraged by her economist father and kindergarten-teacher mother to enroll in dance school. After spending three years there, at the age of 15, Ms. Zhang decided she was headed to the wrong direction, and chose instead to go to the Chinese Central Drama Academy.

Her future in the movies now seems assured. Even before the award winner CTHD was released, she had been cast acclaimed Hong Kong director Tsui Hark’s “Sword Of Zu”, a remake of “Warriors of Zu Mountain”. Zhang Ziyi’s first starring role was in “The Road Home”, directed by renowned Chinese film-maker Zhang Yimou. The film went on to win the Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear at the 2000 Berlin Film Festival.

In Visa’s new commercial “Dining Out”, Zhang delivered a richly entertaining feast of martial arts stunts, many of which she performed herself without a double.

Visa’s new commercial “Dining Out” is directed by Australian Bruce Hunt. He is also directing a series of Visa’s other commercials to be rolled out over the next few months. Bruce Hunt began his career as a graphics designer before moving into directing television commercials in 1990.

Two of Hunt’s career highlights are his feature film work on “Dark City” and “The Matrix”. In “Dark City” he directed the second unit and a major part of the film’s miniature effects, while in “The Matrix” he was responsible for coordinating some of the most astounding action sequences yet seen in cinema.

Ridley Po Wah Tsui choreographed the fighting for my Visa spot…Ridley is the director of five Hong Kong movies as well as the stuent coordinator and martial arts choreographer of more than 20 Hollywood and Hong Kong movies.

Among the former are blockbusters such as “God of Gamblers and I” and its sequel both starring Chow Yun Fat, the Q’ing dynasty martial arts movie “Once Upon A Time In China” starring Jet Li, as well as Hollywood movies such as “The Lost Empire” and “Mortal Kombat II-The Annihilation.”
 jer and ziyi