By James Lindorf
The hybrid documentary “And We Go Green” combines the action of high-speed open-wheeled racing and the thoughtfulness of an environmental activist project into one joyride of a film. I was lucky enough to talk to Malcolm Venville, one of the film’s directors. I asked him about whose idea it was to make the film and the rigors of filming a sport that spans eight months and five continents. I also wanted to know how they expertly blended racing action, personal stories, and cutting-edge tech into one film.
Malcolm Venville is a driven visual storyteller whose projects span the mediums of photography, narrative and documentary films, television, and commercials. Venville made his feature film debut with the dark comedy “44 Inch Chest” starring Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, and John Hurt. He followed that up with comedic crime film “Henry’s Crime,” which featured Keanu Reeves, Vera Farmiga, and James Caan. His work also includes the documentary shorts “Portrait of a Dancer” and “Philophiles”. You can learn more about Venville at his website https://www.malcolmvenville.com.
Red Carpet Crash (RCC): How did the concept for this film come to be? Was it an idea you or Fisher had, or did someone bring it to you?
Malcom Venville (MV): Fisher Stevens invited me to co-direct. I had directed dozens of car commercials and we had been friends and this was a great time to work together. The original idea to make the movie was Leo’s [DiCaprio].
RCC: With Formula E being new to the sports world and evolving at a rapid pace, was it challenging to find the right nonhuman elements to highlight?
MV: Yes, making tech dramatic is complex. Understanding the tech in Formula E is challenging. The magnitude of the tech in Formula E is awe inspiring yet humanity, drama and conflict had to be our priority. it formed the spine around which we could wrap technology.
RCC: How did you find the right balance between racing 101 and producing something that would keep seasoned fans interested?
MV: Formula E is so young that seasoned fans don’t yet exist or they tend to be F1 aficionados. It’s the kids that count for us. It’s the next generation that we want to watch this film. To introduce them to the sport in a simple and dramatic style was the goal. The F1 aficionados don’t want to let go of the noise.
RCC: Speaking of balances, how did you settle on the right proportions of action-filled sports documentary and an environmental focus?
MV: The battle for the championship was between three focused and ruthless drivers – Lucas di Grassi, Jean Eric Vergne, and Sam Bird. This was the foreground of the movie. The environmental focus was the mid and background and the firmament.
RCC: How did you split the directing tasks? Was it by country, did one of you focus on the drivers and the other on the industry?
MV: We leapfrogged each together when necessary. We split the duties on race days because of the heavy demands and the pressures of the racing. When we could shoot together, we would. It was amazing to watch Fisher infiltrate the drivers during the interviews.
RCC: The Formula E season lasted nearly eight months and took place on five different continents. It is easy to imagine how that impacted the project negatively, but were there any benefits to these conditions?
MV: There was no negativity at all in the process. Formula E gave us complete access. Alejandro Agag created a global championship. Each race that takes place is ten times the scale of a festival and each race was perfectly orchestrated! I loved the travel aspect and watching the cars racing in the cities was exciting and glamorous. Not like a sterile racetrack miles from anywhere. These races take place in the beating heart of great cities and the vibe is amazing.
RCC: Did you have any stories you wanted to share but couldn’t get into the film because of pacing issues, or maybe because the driver wasn’t good on camera or even unwilling to participate for one reason or another?
MV: There are so many stories that are laying on the cutting room floor!
RCC: How bad, or surprisingly ok, did the Aquafuel taste?
MV: It’s fairly bland tasting. It could benefit from a little vodka.
Malcolm and Fisher made a film that they can be proud of and that millions of people will enjoy. “And We Go Green” is currently streaming on Hulu.