The international version of Senna weighs in at one hour and 45 minutes long.
Much of that is material from the F1 archives.
But in order to get access to the vast vault of F1 video stored at Biggin Hill, the producers of Senna first had to persuade Bernie Ecclestone to do a deal with them.
“Give us all the money you’ve got”
Getting the Senna family on-side (see part two) had been the first step towards that, as the film’s writer and executive producer Manish Pandey explained:
“Once Vivianne [Senna] had agreed she made a phone call to Bernie, saying that we came with her blessing, and to please meet with us and help us because we really wanted to do this film.”
Their first meeting with Ecclestone lasted 17 minutes: “I was more nervous meeting Bernie for the first time than I was about going to Brazil because with he comes with so much form.
“You?óÔé¼Ôäóve seen him on TV, he?óÔé¼Ôäós supposed to be this fearsome negotiator, but he was brilliant.
“We met in a small room at Prince’s Gate with his lawyer, who?óÔé¼Ôäós now become a great friend. He beat us up for a bit and then Bernie came in.
“Bernie sussed us out, asked a couple of questions, offered a few bits of opinion. We shook hands and he said: ‘give us all the money you?óÔé¼Ôäóve got and we?óÔé¼Ôäóll see what we can do.’
“He knew we weren?óÔé¼Ôäót going to turn up with $50 million but he saw that we were very serious.”
“Like a kid in a candy shop”
The team had to lobby Ecclestone for first-hand access to the archive instead of just requesting footage and being sent it.
“We had to explain that?óÔé¼Ôäós not really how films work ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ we had to go in and see what?óÔé¼Ôäós there.
“Eventually they agreed and gave us four weeks?óÔé¼Ôäó access to the archive. No-one had ever had that. It was like being a kid in a candy shop.”
Pandey described the excitement of turning up never-before-seen footage of Senna’s career – including pivotal moments at Imola in 1994:
“Occasionally we?óÔé¼Ôäód make a discovery and I went ‘hold on, that is the date, that?óÔé¼Ôäós qualifying, that?óÔé¼Ôäós the Friday!’
“And you suddenly realise you?óÔé¼Ôäóve got the moment, and you?óÔé¼Ôäóre looking at him with bloodshot eyes because he?óÔé¼Ôäós deciding ‘am I going to race?'”
The wealth of material on offer presented them with one of the toughest challenges of making the film. Namely, deciding what to leave out and what to leave in.
An F1 career that spanned 11 years had to be condensed into 80 minutes of footage (with the rest coming from, among other sources, television channels and the Sennas’ home videos).
Pandey said: “FOM have never given anybody 80 minutes before, and asking for more than that would be taking the piss. They?óÔé¼Ôäóve been unbelievably generous.”
Inevitably, questions have been raised (including in F1 Fanatic’s review of Senna) about why certain races or incidents were left out. A later part of this series will explore that in detail.
In some ways, the old footage used in the film has a greater impact than modern broadcasts, despite being lower quality.
This is particularly true of the on-board camera shots, which Pandey says “really give a sense of how violent it is”:
“In those cars the cameras were basically at driver?óÔé¼Ôäós eye height. So you?óÔé¼Ôäóre at one side but you can see their hands in the cockpit.
“One of the flaws, I think, with modern Formula 1 cameras, is that they make it look like you?óÔé¼Ôäóre eight metres away, and it?óÔé¼Ôäós far too smooth.
“With Senna, at Monaco especially, you can see just how bumpy it is.”
This may even lead to changes in how modern F1 is filmed:
“Interestingly we showed Bernie?óÔé¼Ôäós lawyers and commercial people the film for the first time, then we noticed at Brazil they moved Fernando?óÔé¼Ôäós camera position lower and to one side.”
“The Making of Senna” continues tomorrow.
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Senna opens in the UK on June 3rd. See the official website for more information.
- The Making of Senna part 9: The response in Brazil
- The Making of Senna part 8: The Death of Ayrton Senna
- The Making of Senna part 7: Imola 1994
- The Making of Senna part 6: The perfect bad guy?
- The Making of Senna part 5: The lost scenes
- The Making of Senna part 4: ‘You’ve never heard F1 sound like this’
- The Making of Senna part 3: Inside the F1 archive
- The Making of Senna part 2: Meeting the Sennas
- The Making of Senna part 1: Life and death
- “Senna” – the Ayrton Senna movie reviewed
Image ?é?® Honda