×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Fate of the Furious’ Is First Major Studio Film to Shoot in Cuba Since Embargo

The “Fast and the Furious” franchise has never exactly been known for subtlety. Over the previous seven installments, the series has dropped cars out of planes, catapulted a bus off a cliff, strapped actresses to oil tankers, and driven cars from one Dubai skyscraper to another. But for eighth installment, “The Fate of the Furious,” director F. Gary Gray tackled one of the series’ steepest logistical challenges yet: mounting a full-scale, big-budget action shoot in the middle of Havana.

As one of the first major Hollywood shoots to take place in Cuba since restrictions were eased, Gray had to contend with a host of unusual trials, most notably the near absence of internet while on the island. “If it’s a challenge to send a simple email, you can imagine how difficult it is to bring in the entire infrastructure to support a movie this big,” Gray says. “We were this close to renting a cruise ship, just because there weren’t enough hotel rooms in the city.”

He nonetheless insists the experience was entirely worth the hassles.

“The people were amazing, the place was amazing, and you could basically just throw your camera up in the air and it’ll land on a perfect shot. And you get to see the resilient nature of the Cuban people — they know how to do without, so they also know how to create and improvise.”

Gray recalls one unexpectedly poignant moment, as the crew was preparing to shoot on a busy Havana boulevard and brought in a camera-ship helicopter for aerial shots.

“I remember watching the crowd watch the helicopter almost as if they were watching a spaceship. So I put up a monitor for them to see what the helicopter saw, and realized a lot of them were seeing Havana from the sky for the first time. Some people started to cry, and then we started to cry.  This is something we take for granted, but for these people who have never left the ground because of some of the restrictions, they’ve never seen where they lived from that angle. It was profound all around.”

More Film

  • Lisa Borders Time's Up

    Time's Up President Lisa Borders Resigns

    Lisa Borders has resigned as president of Time’s Up, she and the organization announced on Monday. Borders is resigning due to family issues, she said in a statement. Time’s Up COO Rebecca Goldman will now serve as interim CEO. “As Time’s Up continues to grow, I am proud of the work I have done to [...]

  • Keira Knightly as "Rachael Morgan" in

    Film Review: Keira Knightley in 'The Aftermath'

    Less widely seen (and acclaimed) than it deserved to be, James Kent’s debut feature “Testament of Youth” was one of the great recent love-in-wartime dramas, translating the intimate romance and sprawling human tragedy of Vera Brittain’s WWI memoir with a grace and heft worthy of its David Lean allusions. Four years on, it’s not hard [...]

  • Inside Amazon's New Feature Film Strategy

    Amazon's New Film Strategy: Straight-to-Service Titles and Starry Sundance Buys

    It was close to midnight when Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke got the text. The company had failed in its quest to acquire “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” a body image dramedy that captivated Salke when she saw it at Sundance. A sales agent on the project messaged her to say that a competitor offered a [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron71st Annual Writers Guild Awards,

    Alfonso Cuarón on Academy's 'Inevitable' Reversal on Televised Oscar Categories

    Alfonso Cuarón isn’t exactly surprised that the Academy reversed its decision and will now air all the Oscar categories during the live show on Sunday. Feb. 24. Calling the decision “inevitable,”Cuarón tells Variety that he thinks the Academy should take things even further. “Let’s stop calling them technical categories!” he told Variety on Sunday night [...]

  • TorinoFilmLab Announces Selections for 2019 ScriptLab

    TorinoFilmLab Announces Selections for 2019 ScriptLab (EXCLUSIVE)

    The TorinoFilmLab has announced the 20 feature projects and five story editor trainees who have been selected to take part in the 2019 edition of ScriptLab, an initiative focused on the development of fiction feature film scripts in early development stage. Beginning in March, this year’s participants will team up with filmmakers from around the [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    North American Box Office Declines From Last Year With Weak Presidents Day Weekend

    “Alita: Battle Angel” easily won a tepid Presidents Day weekend with a $34.2 million at 3,790 North American locations, estimates showed Monday. Overall domestic moviegoing for 2019 has plunged 22.1% to $1.24 billion as of Monday, according to Comscore. That’s $350 million below the same date a year ago and the lowest figure at this [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content