– . – Director – Asif Kapadia
Director – Asif Kapadia
Life in the Fast Lane
The stunning documentary Senna paints a passionate and emotional portrait of racing legend Ayrton Senna, and is told entirely through archive footage. Here, director Asif Kapadia reveals how he put the film together, and why it was a gamble worth taking.
I’m a big sports fan, and I was watching and playing sport long before I had any interest in cinema or filmmaking. I’m fascinated by the characters, drama, psychology, rivalry, politics and corruption that go on behind the scenes. Making Senna gave me a chance to bring my two passions of sport and cinema together in a project.
I watched Ayrton Senna winning his world titles, remembered his rivalry with Alain Prost and was watching the Imola race [the site of Senna’s fatal crash] live—but I’m not an authority on Senna or Formula One. In fact, it was my producer, James Gay-Rees, who had the initial idea to make a documentary about Ayrton; he approached Working Title Films and chairman Eric Fellner gave the project the go-ahead. At WT James was introduced to Manish Pandey, the writer and executive producer—and one of the most passionate Senna fans you could ever meet. James and Manish flew to Sao Paulo and pitched their idea to the Senna family, who gave their permission for us to make the film about Ayrton. Finally James and Manish looked for directors and contacted me, as they had both seen and liked The Warrior. I jumped at the chance; I couldn’t believe my luck!
I had just come off a tough shoot in the Arctic with Far North, where the location and the look of the film had almost taken over the production. I was interested in the idea of doing something which was the complete opposite and testing myself by making a film about a real person, a film where I would have little or no control over the images, where it had to work through the strength of storytelling and character.
The biggest problem was finding a way to make it cinematic and emotionally engaging.