One of the biggest perks of this gig here at Why So Blu is the access it gives me to chat with choice talent that I highly admire in the world of filmmaking. Couple that with a 15-minute conversation about one of the most passionate subjects in my life, Ford Mustangs, and you have my heart and complete undivided attention. Yep, that’s right. My fifteen paragraphs of text wasn’t enough in my A Faster Horse film review a few days back over here. Oh no! I needed to have more! It’s like having two beautiful Ford Mustangs parked in your garage. What’s one more? Hell, why not go for a Shelby, right? Exactly! However, I digress. We’re here today to talk with David Gelb, the director of my new favorite documentary, A Faster Horse. I think you can already tell where this conversation is going to go. Oh yeah! Pure muscle car nirvana. Come on! Let’s get started.
The following interview with director David Gelb was conducted on Tuesday, October 6th during press day of A Faster Horse‘s Hollywood premiere. Special thanks to Kori Kemerer for helping me out with some of the transcription down below.
Brian: Hey David. How you doing today?
David: I’m good. Thanks. How are you?
Brian: I’m good. This is Brian White from whysoblu.com.
David: Hey there.
Brian: I just wanted to apologize for any background noise. I’m actually sitting in my Ford Mustang interviewing you about this feature so I thought that was pretty fitting here.
David: Ah how appropriate. No background noise. Is it a new Mustang?
Brian: It’s actually a 2006 GT, but I ordered a 2016 GT350 too. So I’ll be upgrading as you can say.
David: Ah perfect. Awesome.
Brian: Well awesome. Let’s get into it. I saw A Faster Horse. I reviewed it already. I basically live that story every day of my life because I am a Mustang aficionado, but for our readers out there can you tell them a little more about this project you worked on?
David: Absolutely. So this is a film about the Mustang. It’s about the genesis of the original Mustang, Lee Iacocca and his team creating a beautiful car that for the first time would actually be attainable by normal people, a car that is incredibly customizable where people are able to project their personalities into that they can make truly their own and form a real emotional bond with. It’s also about the 50th anniversary model, the 2015 Mustang and its chief engineer Dave Pericak trying to create a car that respects the legacy and that will satisfy all the diehard Mustang fans out there that still pushes the car into the future to ensure its survival some fifty years into the future. So it’s really a film about leadership, about creativity and about the relationship between a person and their car.
Brian: Great answer. It’s also the gospel to all the mustang fans out there so I appreciate what you did with your work here.
David: Thank you. It means a lot coming from someone that really understands Mustangs so thank you.
Brian: Now I read through the press notes before I sat down with the movie and I thought to myself as the wannabe filmmaker I am, what an awesome passion project this must have been for someone like me who really loves Ford Mustangs. So I’m just kind of curious how did you become involved with this project?
David: So the grandson of Henry Ford II had this idea to make a film about the Mustang for the 50th anniversary and he came to my producers and said we’re going to make this film and we want it to be legit and we want you to find a filmmaker that can convey the feeling of Mustang not just to Mustang fans, but also to a broad kind of general audience. We want people who don’t even like cars to watch it also. So I’m very fortunate they came to me. I’m not a huge gear head or I wasn’t until I started the film, but I had a lot of respect for the Mustang because of my dad. I’m from New York so we didn’t have a car, but whenever my dad would go to LA he would always rent a Mustang GT convertible. Always. I always felt so cool in this car with him so I had this kind of personal memory of Mustang and I haven’t had that feeling about any other car. But I didn’t know a lot about how a car was made. I was still kind of learning about the history of Lee Iacocca and the genesis of the original Mustang. So I thought if I can make this movie interesting to me, then it would be interesting to everyone. So that’s what we tried to do. We tried to make a film that shines a light on the people who create these vehicles and the amount of work that goes into building one. I think a lot of people have this kind of misconception where they think they design the model on the computer and they hit print and it comes off the assembly line and that’s it. But we really wanted to shine a spotlight on the engineers, the people who sweat and all the hard work that goes into making just the switch that turns the car on or the sound it makes when the door closes. Every single facet of this vehicle is labored over a ton of love and a ton of passion especially because it’s the Mustang. People working on this car are diehard fans of the product they are making. So it’s almost like the inmates are running the asylum.
Brian: Yeah. The testing and design alone are one thing, but the manufacturing lines I saw in your movie were just mind blowing. I guess as a diehard Mustang fan I really want to know what was it like to be in the secret rooms and all the underground areas that you were at in Ford where no camera crews have ever been before?
David: It was incredible. I felt this incredible feeling when I first visited before we even started shooting. They took me on a tour so I could meet the engineers, experience what the facilities were like and when they took me down the elevator to the Ford product development center they took my cell phone away and brought me in the secret room where they had the clay model of the 2015 Mustang, which at that point has not even been revealed. Nobody had seen it before. It was such a cool feeling. So I really wanted to take the audience on that journey. So right at the top of the movie you’re following the vehicle design manager through the facility where we’re walking right past that door that says no photographs and no video. It’s really kind of an incredible thing Ford did. It wasn’t like there were PR people following me around. I was really given access to shoot whatever we wanted and you know we edited it in a secure facility, but they were really fearless and it is kind of amazing what they let us do. I hope that people appreciate being able to see what nobody seen before inside the inner workings of a major car company like Ford.
Brian: That’s really awesome. Now from what I understand in the documentary you kind of freaked out a lot of workers with the cameras there especially in the places where no other cameras can go. So I’m curious as to what kind of reception did you generally have with the workers at Ford. Was it all favorable or were there times where you couldn’t go somewhere due to the disruptions your crews may cause?
David: You know it was interesting. The first reaction was just shock. We would walk into a budget meeting and everybody would just be like silent, staring at us. They would look at Dave Pericak and say Dave this is a top secret meeting, what’s going on? Dave would be like they’re with me, don’t worry. They would have to just get to work because they don’t have time to worry about us. So we would just shoot the scenes. It didn’t take long for the engineers to get really excited about having us around because they don’t really get their moment in the spotlight ever. I don’t know who the chief engineer is of any other car other than Mustang. I didn’t know who he was before we started making the film so they appreciated the opportunity to shine the light on all the people who worked so hard to make this car real, and to give people a look at what it takes to build a car. One of the greatest complements we got was from one of the engineers that told me thank you for making this film, now my kid actually knows what I do when I go to work. I thought that was really cool. We all worked together and they would come to us with ideas of, oh you need to shoot this on this day or you should come on this test drive, were driving through the desert on this day, so we really became a collaboration and they were incredibly supportive.
Brian: That sounds like an overall positive experience, I am glad to hear that. Do you own a Mustang and if so what kind?
David: Not yet, but I’m looking for a Shelby, something classic from the 1st generation. I just haven’t found the right one yet, or maybe I haven’t had time to find the right one yet. Once I finally get some time off I’m going to be spending some time trying to find a car that speaks to me. Personally, Mustangs mean a lot to me because we didn’t have a car, but my dad would always rent a Mustang GT convertible and drive me around whenever we would go anywhere we needed to drive. I guess it reminds me of spending time with my dad and so I guess I am looking for that again. I love the Mustangs from the 60’s, they are so cool and so iconic.
Brian: You can get the ’66 Shelby GT 350 and I’ll have the 2016 one so we can compare notes there.
David: Yeah yeah, we can take them to the track.
Brian: I’ve seen and reviewed your last narrative movie, The Lazarus Effect and I need to play catchup with your sushi doc. I was wondering what else you have going on project wise or what are currently working on if you are allowed to share that at all.
David: Oh sure. I have a series on Netflix called Chefs Table and basically each episode is a documentary about a great chef, shot in a style of my sushi movie. That is a series we are hoping to continue on Netflix. I love making films about creative people under pressure. When you are an owner and chef at your own restaurant the stakes are really really high. So its an exciting story about art and the art of cooking, about getting to heart of why we do these kind of risky creative things and why we love them. So fanatically I think its right there in line with Mustang. I create a lot of films about food and I eat really well, but it was really cool to make a film about something I really have not been exposed to before and seeing how they built these cars is incredible. The coordination of man power and all the different supplier sites coming together to create this one vehicle people are so attached to is just an amazing thing. I spent some time going to some of the conventions around the time of the 50 year anniversary and we talked to a lot of people. These people love their cars. I didn’t see a single two cars that were alike. There’s so much custom finishing and love. We walked around with the designer of the original Mustang and he was signing everyone’s cars and stuff and it was just so cool. It’s like a family. When you own a Mustang you’re part of the family. That’s what it feels like.
Brian: Yeah there’s definitely a lot of clubs and a lot of Mustang love going on in that community so I appreciate what you did with the movie. It’s a testament to all us fans out there and I really hope it does come out on the Blu-ray format so I can cherish it in 1080p forever.
David: It certainly will. We shot it with Red Dragon cameras, super high quality cinema cameras. They shot The Hobbit movies on the same camera. Our supervising sound editor worked on Iron Man, Gladiator and other incredible films and just loves Mustangs. So we made a real point o make sure the movie sounds incredible. Every Mustang you see onscreen has its authentic engine sound regardless of the year, which I think is really cool. And so the movie actually comes out in theaters on October 8th. On Thursday it will be in 40 cities for a one-night only event and so we’ve been reaching out to all the Mustang clubs across the country to try and get them to come out. It will be available on Vimeo On Demand on October 9th. Then later it will be available on Blu-ray with some special features and deleted scenes because there is so much about the story that we just couldn’t fit into the movie.
Brian: Awesome. I’m definitely looking forward to that being that this is first and foremost a Blu-ray website so that’s great to hear. Now my final question to you is one I ask all filmmakers and talent I ever interview because I am just curious to see what makes one successful in this business like you are. So my question to you is a simple one, but a loaded one. What makes David tick? What I mean by that is what outside of film captures your passion, your heart and your dreams to do what you do?
David: I am really interested in craft. I am really interested in the creative process. In making Jiro Dreams of Sushi I loved to hang out with the sushi chef and learn what that’s like and in making this film I wanted to hang out with engineers and learn how they do what they do. So for me in filmmaking and the great thing about making documentaries is you go and experience something that you don’t normally get to do. You can then apply the lessons you learned from that adventure to your own work. The experience of making the film is one of the things that really excites me. It’s like I get to live in Detroit for like a year and be vicariously the engineer on the most beloved vehicle you know in the country. I’m okay with that. That sounds like a fun adventure.
Brian: Most definitely. You’re living your dreams through what your produce. Not many people get to do that so I admire and respect that.
David: Thank you so much.
Brian: I had one final question, but I think you kind of answered that already. I was going to ask you GT or Shelby GT350, but I think you’d go with the Shelby, huh?
David: I just think Shelby has the history. It was Shelby who made these things go fast in the first place so I’m into it.
Brian: Alright, thanks a lot David. I really appreciate your time today. I know you have a tight schedule with the Hollywood premiere of A Faster Horse today so I don’t want to keep you. I’m looking forward to see the film on Blu-ray and I’ll be checking out Chef’s Table as well on Netflix. Best of luck to you.
David: Awesome, man. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time and support of the film. It means a lot.
Brian: Not a problem. Have a great rest of your day there.
David: Okay thanks. Good bye.
David Gelb’s A Faster Horse premieres digitally for download on Vimeo October 9th or theatrically in limited release possibly near you on October 8th. For theaters and showtimes or to pre-order it on Vimeo, hit up the official website at www.fasterhorsefilm.com.
To check out my comprehensive film review of A Faster Horse click this link. Enjoy!