Need for Speed: Director Scott Waugh Talks VG Adaptation

By Ural Garrett · March 12, 2014

Films finding inspiration from video games have become synonymous with Hollywood’s current lack of creativity as 80s remakes for better or worse. For every success like Paul Anderson’s 1995 adaptation of Mortal Kombat, viewers have dealt with horrible video game-to-film conversions including 1993’s Super Mario Brothers, the surprisingly resilient Resident Evil series or pretty much anything from Uwe Boll. Dreamworks Pictures hopes to set a new standard through its take on Electronic Arts’ almost twenty-year-old racing franchise Need For Speed.  Starring Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Michael Keaton and Scott Mescudi (A.K.A. Kid Cudi), Act of Valor director Scott Waugh helms the car based revenge film set to a cross country race.

Besides 2008’s Need For Speed: Undercover and more specifically, 2011’s Need For Speed: The Run, EA’s franchise normally hasn’t focused solely on overarching narratives; something that’s been a common benefactor in other film adaptations of video games. Ironically, 2003’s Need For Speed: Underground found inspiration from early films in The Fast and Furious franchise.

In speaking with a group of eager journalist at Los Angeles’ Intercontinental Century City Hotel during the film’s press day, Waugh said that the series lack of story gave film makers a blank slate in crafting a captivating story. “The greatest thing about turning that game into a film is that there really wasn’t a narrative because sometimes narratives in games work fantastic for the game but don’t translate to the movie so we were very free about that,” Waught said.

However, it doesn’t mean anything from the series first released for Panasonic’s failed 3DO console in 1994 isn’t present. With 140 million global sales since then, Need For Speed has been seen as the most successful racing series of all time thanks to visuals which improve with each iteration, buttery smooth controls, epic racer vs. cop interaction and vehicle selection ranging from practical to extreme luxurious. Obviously, this is something Waught saw also.

“They had a fantastic format which is you don’t race on tracks, you race on roads and you work your way up through cars,” explained Waught. “Those kind of things we knew about and if you follow the film, we follow that format of the game. You start off with classics, then start to race modern cars and then graduate to super cars. That’s naturally how racing is anyway.”

Waught wanted to also insure Need For Speed’s incredible action driving and stunts were present while paying homage to some of greatest car films of all time. “We grew up watching and being apart of with out fathers some of the greatest car movies that we felt started the genre which is Bullet, Vanishing Point, Smokey and the Bandit, French Connection, he added.

Of course that meant using real stunt men and driving without cheesy computer generated effects. According to Waught, every stunt presented in the film is “practical and for real” for a throwback to how things were done. “Things like Steve McQueen or Gene Hackmen did,” Waught said. “This is something I feel has become a lost art form in cinema.”

Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, look for Need For Speed to hit the silver screen March 14.