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Fast & Furious 8

By Duty editor ● April 10, 2017

The Fast family is not only comprised of the cast in front of the camera, but a host of behind-the-scenes crew, including some who have been a part of the franchise since its inception in 2000.  They include picture car coordinator Dennis McCarthy and second unit director Spiro Razatos, as well as his stunt design team, led by brothers JACK GILL and ANDY GILL—who together have conceptualized and executed some of the most dynamic, mind-boggling, action born from Morgan’s imagination and put to paper.


For extraordinary car-driven action, the filmmakers continuously look to Razatos to deliver bigger, better sequences.  The longtime leader of the series’ vehicular action will always push boundaries on what can be accomplished practically and what may be shot in innovative new ways.   

For Fast & Furious 8 that means literally racing every make and model of cars across a frozen lake in the hinterlands of Iceland…or through the heavily populated and traffic congested streets of New York City.



With close to four weeks of filming on several frozen lakes in some of the Iceland’s remote regions, and then in the city of Reykjavik, the team thrived as they pulled off an intense schedule.  They would end up racing as many as 16 vehicles of every stripe, as well as detonating explosives to simulate a surfacing submarine.

The frozen Barents Sea provides the backdrop for the final confrontation between Cipher and Dom as he barrels over the frozen landscape to a nuclear submarine.  There, Hobbs and Dom’s crew are ready to drop Dom at the first opportunity. 


To ensure filming was both safe and productive, it would take a full team of local crew to assess and manage the snow and ice conditions.  There was a steep learning curve, but in the end it paid off with patience and precision execution of the stunts.



For McCarthy, the franchise’s go-to car guru since Tokyo Drift, this chapter posed two very big location-based challenges for very different reasons. 

The Iceland location that provides the setting for the daring third-act Russia sequence was extraordinarily remote.  With frigid temps that affected everything from vehicle maintenance, performance on ice and the general full throttle paces that Razatos and his team would put the vehicles through as they filmed, the epic cars vs. submarine scene was astonishing.


During preproduction in his Southern California workshop, McCarthy and his team would fully modify a fleet of arctic-ready vehicles and ship them to Iceland.  While Dom captained the DODGE “ICE” CHARGER, coming at him in full force is Hobbs…in a modified DODGE “ICE RAM” TRUCK.  He is joined by Letty in a RALLY FIGHTER, as well as Little Nobody in a SUBARU WRX.  Tej finally gets his own tank with the military RIPSAW, while, as only he can, Roman powers across the tundra in an orange LAMBORGHINI.



Leaving the subzero temperatures of Iceland behind, McCarthy and his team would make the trip to Cuba to begin his next challenge.  The film’s opening sequence has Dom racing a stripped down junker of a 1953 CHEVY FLEETLINE against a 1956 FORD FAIRLANE, the island’s fastest car.    


Whereas environment and demands of filming in adverse conditions plagued Gray in Iceland, for Cuba, the lack of readily available automotive parts or support system meant his team would need to bring in everything to be prepared for every imaginable contingency.

The cars would admittedly take a beating as they were raced throughout Havana.  The picture car department would end up transporting in 10 Chevys and seven Fords to prepare for the vehicular carnage that undoubtedly happens on a Fast race sequence. 



Remarks McCarthy: “The challenge with Cuba was that we literally couldn’t get anything.  We had to really plan ahead and figure out what could possibly go wrong and prepare for it all.  As tough as Iceland was, at least there auto-parts stores.  For Cuba, we brought in everything from car carriers, a tool truck, box trucks, parts trucks, and trailers, and packed it all up with multiples of everything.”


For access to the fabled local car flavor, McCarthy turned to Cuba’s car king, David Peña.  Known around the car-racing circuit simply as McQueen, he would curate the island’s best vintage cars as the setting for the Cuban version of the Fast staple: the tuner Party.

For a diehard car aficionado like McCarthy Cuba was truly a mind-blower.  “It’s breathtaking.  You walk out to the street, and it feels like you’ve gone through a time machine.  Seventy percent of the vehicles are from the ’50s and the ’40s.  What’s even more impressive is how these guys have kept them running.  I just loved seeing the enthusiasm and genuine excitement from the locals that we were there.”



The mere mention of the film or hearing an American voice prompted excited questions and conversations from Cubans.  The excitement was palpable as hundreds of curious residents, tourists and pure fans looked on as filming snaked its way through different neighborhoods.

Something as simple as loading picture cars onto the car carriers elicited applause, or a swarm of people wanting to get a closer look, touch a vehicle or take a photo.  The addition of Diesel or Rodriguez to the mix guaranteed that the cheering crowd would swell tenfold, electrifying the film set and surrounding streets.

However, for McCarthy, one of the scenes he was most excited about didn’t involve racing cars or death-defying cars stunts.  It was the scene in which Hobbs, Shaw and the team are led into a seemingly benign fish-processing plant, which serves as a front for a black-ops site.  Angels literally sing as the team walks in their Valhalla, a vast car warehouse reminiscent of one of the memorable final scenes in the Indiana Jones classic Raiders of the Lost Ark as the Ark of the Covenant is tucked away in an endless chasm of crates.



Trying to get the best eye candy on the planet in one place for filming this scene, McCarthy scoured his little black book of private-car owners, dealers, custom houses and manufacturers around the world

McCarthy quickly learned that the franchise had engendered a bonanza of goodwill over the years, so the Herculean task became more manageable as everyone wanted to showcase their vehicles in the film and were offering up their babies left and right.  Even McCarthy and Moritz loaned their prized “children” to the inventory.  When all was said done, McCarthy’s team amassed more than $17 million worth of vehicles in the Fast toy shop for several days of filming.


From America’s best—including Dodge, Ford and vintage Chevys—to imports like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Jaguar, Toyota, Subaru, and a one-of-a-kind $2 million Nissan concept car flown in from Japan—to Ducatis, Harley Davidsons and KTM’s Confederate motorcycle, McCarthy and his team had cast and crew marveling at the assemblage of vehicles.     



After going lower key in the car department on Furious 7, Gibson was psyched that McCarthy upped Roman’s car game for Fast & Furious 8.  “I got the Bentley GT Coupe,” says Gibson.  “Two door, white with the burgundy stripes.  Then I also have the orange Lamborghini, so I’m very happy.  I love my cars.”


As a lover of anything fast, the veteran picture car coordinator also peppered the collection with a Ripsaw tank, courtesy of the U.S Department of Defense, Mystic speedboat, a Stryker military buggy, and a MD helicopter, among others.



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