The Senna of attention
‘‘ It was quite freeing. I found it a really amazing experience,’’ he says.
‘‘ From very early on I was just amazed by looking at the footage on YouTube and seeing how much there was that was already on camera.
‘‘ It was a gut instinct from very early on that we could do the whole film like this.
‘‘ You have to go with it and whatever exists weirdly becomes cinematic. Somehow it looks like a movie.’’
Kapadia ( inset above) says his biggest battle was in avoiding studio pressure to include scenes of talking heads, which are a standard feature of documentary making.
‘‘ I would come up with creative ways to not do interviews; I thought if I shot them I would have to use them,’’ he says.
Pandey calculated they viewed 15,000 hours of material and started with about 6000 hours of footage to edit down, with each race shown in multiple camera angles and hours of post and pre-race interviews to choose from.
‘‘ This is how we were able to construct the film in an almost classic, dramatic way,’’ Kapadia says.
‘‘ Where you have a shot of Senna we could have a close up, we could have a wide shot, we could have a reverse shot of who he’s talking to, or if I want to I could cut to a helicopter shot.’’
They also had many researchers around the world who could supply footage of a particular race or on a particular topic.
‘‘ They would all come back with footage and invariably it would not be what we had expected it to be, it would be something else,’’ Kapadia says.
The filmmakers were also given access to private footage as they had the support of Senna’s family. Kapadia says that support did not extend to interference.
‘‘ We were in London, they all live in Sao Paulo. We were not exactly bumping into each other in the high street,’’ he says.
Some might see making an ‘‘ approved’’ documentary as being restrictive. Kapadia says his restrictions came in other ways.
Before he hired an editor, he put together seven hours of footage from YouTube as a starting point for the film.
‘‘ I was cutting the funeral [ scene] and there was a moment when I had to choose which shot of Senna’s mum do I use,’’ he says.
‘‘ That’s when you realise these are real people, this is somebody’s son.
‘‘ As a drama director, I had never been in that situation before, when it really did make me think, ‘ Wow, this is quite difficult’.
‘‘ That’s when you go, ‘ Actually, two people have died for real in this movie and why shouldn’t we be sensitive to the family’?’’