Gran Turismo movie completes track filming, Yamauchi explains its importance

Thomas Harrison-Lord
Initially sceptical to the idea of a Gran Turismo movie, further details from a stunt and TV driver and Kazunori Yamauchi have us hopeful of a film that helps grow sim racing. Image: Mauro Calo, Twitter
Gran Turismo movie completes track filming, Yamauchi explains its importance

Seven weeks of road and track filming for the upcoming Gran Turismo has just wrapped ahead of the festive period. That’s according to stunt and automotive media driver Mauro Calo.

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Top Gear and The Grand Tour and seen a car slewing sideways through a corner, billowing smoke from its rear wheels, and you can’t clearly see the driver, chances are it’s Calo behind the wheel.

Gran Turismo movie filming, Dubai Autodrome 2022

The same for car magazine shoots, TV shows and films. His prior credits, alongside the world’s two biggest car shows, include Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw and Mission: Impossible – Fallout, plus some on-camera journalism for media outlet Autocar.

Turns out he’s involved in the Gran Turismo film, which will chart a young Jann Mardenborough – played by Archie Madekwe – rising to motorsport glory after succeeding in a virtual driving competition, in a plot reminiscent of the former GT Academy competitions.

“That’s a wrap on 7 weeks filming around the world on the fastest film ever made. The GranTurismo movie,” tweeted Calo on the 16th December 2022.

“From +35 degrees to -5 my incredible Nissan GTR camera car performed faultlessly.”

He shared these thoughts alongside images of an R35 GT-R equipped with the rigs required to track cars at high speed. Appropriate for a Gran Turismo product with Nissan being so heavily involved with GT Academy between 2008 and 2016.

Of note, one of the images clearly depicts Dubai Autodrome, the 5.390 km long circuit predominately used for endurance races, but it’s also previously held rounds of the European Touring Car Championship and races where GT Academy contestants would learn their craft such as the 2009 Dubai 24 Hour.

“We broke new grounds on how to film race cars actually racing. Incredible journey,” finishes Calo.

Kazunori Yamauchi’s movie input

It’s this final point made by Calo that’s key, after we and assembled media spoke to game creator Kazunori Yamauchi in Monaco recently. He was keen to point out his influence on the production and where driving films typically stumble.

“Fundamentally the film is made by Sony Pictures,” said Yamauchi

“So I’ve only given feedback [on] the script that they gave me a few times.

“But at the previous Pebble Beach event, I actually met the scriptwriters there. During the event, he was a little stuck with ideas and I’m sure you’ve seen racing movies before, it’s really difficult to figure out what to do at the climax.”

Kazunori Yamauchi and Translator-san, 2022 Gran Turismo World Finals, Monaco

Yamauchi-san then mimicked changing gear several times and suddenly smashing down the throttle pedal in a jovial fashion, a trope of many on-screen car chases.

“For some reason, they’re always shifting up and I told them please don’t do that.”

Bringing a new audience to racing games

While we, Traxion.GG, are well aware of the popularity of sim racing and what the Gran Turismo games do to funnel in new fans, there’s scope to grow the scene even further.

If successful, the Gran Turismo movie could help the masses understand the parallels between virtual competition and motorsport.

Lucas Ordóñez and Jann Mardenborough were both part of the ill-fated 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans effort - Motorsport Images
Lucas Ordóñez and Jann Mardenborough were both part of Nissan’s 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans effort thanks to Gran Turismo – Motorsport Images

“I think, positioning-wise, GranTurismo now has a 25-year history,” said Yamauchi

“It has now become a big brand in the automotive industry that’s recognised.

“But it’s not a big brand in general terms overall.

“So movies, on the other hand, might have that function of making it that way.

“People who love cars, know about Gran Turismo. But people who aren’t into cars, don’t.”

The Gran Turismo feature film is set for an 11th August 2023 release date and amongst others, includes David Harbour, Geri Halliwell-Horner, Emelia Hartford and Orlando Bloom. District 9 creator Neill Blomkamp is the director.

Images of Gran Turismo movie filming: Mauro Calo, Twitter

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