Who went to see the film GO!? And who stayed in the cinema to the very end of the credits? If you did, you might have seen the name BD Soutar-Dawson as the Motorsport Consultant for the film.
A karter since he was 17, and still involved with the sport, we spoke with the Perth-based 36-year-old about his role in the production.
We’re also able to show some of the behind the scenes photos he’s been hoarding! (the producers had a strict no-photo policy until the film was released).
Firstly, how did you become involved?
I started to hear there were plans to do a movie over here (in WA). They’d asked a couple of kart clubs pre-empting what they were doing. They’d also spoken to one of my clients that I do coaching and development work with, Arise Racing. We were able to go through the script pre-film and made comments on that and how they were going to work Arise into the film.
Because I was doing some of this consultation and prelim stuff, the producers said they really wanted me to come on set and consult through the whole process, but they didn’t have a budget for it.
But they did have budget for a stunt double and said I physically resembled the build of the main character, so that’s how it happened.
And they used the Arise Racing facilities in the film?
Yeah, inside in the workshop. They added some extra things in, but it’s basically as it is. Originally it was going to be branded Zeta Racing or something. The facility was what they wanted so they re-wrote Arise into the script rather than rebrand everything.
How much of the script did you get to see?
“I went through it a bit with them and originally had planned to go through the whole lot, but didn’t get time. It was more while we were on-set doing scenes, they would ask for advice, or see me wince or mumble “mate, it doesn’t work like that”, and take suggestions on board, or mix in with what they wanted.
It’s strange how on-set it all happens on the run – disorganised chaos and then organised chaos. It’s not in my character with my OCD/engineering structured brain!
The people involved had a bit of an idea about motor sport, correct?
The Director, Owen Trevor, is ex Top Gear (Ed: he directed 26 episodes of the famous UK show) and the writer, Steve Worland (Ed: who in 2014 published a novel, “Quick”, that was based around motor racing) wanted to make sure the movie was true to the sport. They especially wanted some of the old karting character to come through and wanted to have a bit of an Ayrton Senna tribute in it. For example, the black leathers with the yellow stripe were custom made in the style of Senna’s karting leathers, plus the design on the older style helmet.
To give the sensation of speed, they used a rigid mounting for the camera. I think they did a good job bringing the speed component to the film.
They were open to suggestion and wanted to stay as true as possible to karting. We didn’t want karters to watch it and say “oh that’s stupid” which I think is why they wanted someone close to the industry to be involved.
For example, they initially had a ‘J on the kart, but when it came to asphalt tracks, it would not be right, from a karting perspective, to have that engine in with the KA100s, so that got changed.
Also, they wanted to have a late 70s early 80s era feel to Jack’s kart and originally they wanted no sidepods on it. But with what we were doing with the driving, and making contact in some of the scenes, I was going to end up on my lid! (Ed: the kart did run, however, without a nose cone or Nassau panel.)
Was there much altering of real venues to make the movie, or did they just use what was there?
Not really. The only thing, which makes no difference to people who haven’t been there, is that filming in different locations would then get brought together as the same place – like, the Cockburn shed was at Wanneroo. Only those people who know those places well would realise they are different areas. But to the normal observer and the story, it all comes together to make sense.
When were all the track and workshop scenes shot?
It was done over four weeks in May, 2018. They had really planned it well what they wanted to do.
Filmed in May 2018, released in January 2020 – quite a wait.
They were careful with the timing of releasing the movie. It was actually ready in the middle of July of 2019, but was pushed back into the Christmas school holidays and even then, only after some of the big blockbuster releases.
How’s the feedback you’ve heard?
There’s been good feedback from people in karting that the racing side of it was done well and it makes sense. It’s one of the first big opportunities to promote karting to people who don’t know karting or have never heard of it before. So it was helpful (for karting) they gave us some freedom to stay true to the sport.
Who drove the main rival’s kart during the filming of the race scenes?
That was Josh Merritt, he was Dean’s character stunt double. Others were like fill-in racers; Sam and Taylor Dicker did some of the driving, and some other karters were the protagonists in the fight or in the background. It was all local kids doing the driving.
Outside of the consulting, you ended up doing lots of driving?
I did 150 to 160 laps a day on the dirt to get all the different shots and about 2,000 laps over the shoot.
I’m fortunate I’ve got a good visual memory. They’d shoot a scene from outside the track, in front of kart, from the back, from overhead – often did five or six vantage points of the same scene from different angles just to get a three-second scene. I had to remember who I overtook on which side on the way through the pack, and try – but it was not always possible – to pass the same person on the same corners, on the same side.
We did a full day at Busselton and then I saw at the bottom of the run sheet the whole day was for just two minutes of the movie.
I was also doing all the car scenes for the lead character, like the donuts, plus quite a lot of the camera karts. Once mounted up with framework, the karts were maybe 250kg all up. The KA100 on the camera kart didn’t have the power to pull it, so we put an X30 on it.
Where did the karts come from?
All the kids used their own karts.
DPE provided us with five X5s, which was what Dean’s kart was (the main rival), plus some of the others up the front of the pack. They were also used in some of the still scenes.
The kart I used, the guy over here had one 28/30 AX6 with a ‘J on it, which was just pointless. The main one we used was an AX8 30/32 they painted yellow, but with a KA100 and Dunlops. It was actually really good to drive.
I spoke to Remo (Luciani) who had some un-anodised heads left over from the KA testing homologation, so we used one of those to give it a more vintage look.
Apart from being a stunt double, did you get a part in the movie?
No, unfortunately. Working with Richard Roxburgh was great, he’s a really amazing guy. In one of the scenes he looks at the photo in the caravan (of himself and a friend in their younger days). Richard wanted me to be the friend in the photo, but I didn’t get there for the shoot, so they used one of the crew. Damn! That would have been good. But it’s me in the car though, doing burnouts with a wig on.
Was it you who did the driving and slide job on the last lap of the ‘Nationals’?
That was in the wet. Did it just happen to rain on the day of filming, or was that part of the script and the track had to be wet?
They wanted that to be a wet race. We had a water truck and had to keep the track wet all the time. We had to film at night – we’d start about 3pm and sometimes finished at 3 or 4 in the morning. At Wanneroo for the Nationals, it was zero degrees at night. We had a heated tent and all the kids went in there to not get hypothermia.
Something I think many viewers will appreciate is the lack of CGI special effects in the racing scenes.
The computer game shows Jack how to do the inside move. We had to do that by hustling the car around in the last couple of corners and film the overtakes for real. Then they used CGI to do the graphics for that part. And that was really the only bit that was CGI’d, the rest of it was raw filming.
For the roll-over scene, they made a big rig, placed the kart in the rig, strapped Will in and rolled it mechanically to finish the crash sequence.
Was Karting Australia involved?
I think a little bit, but I don’t know how much. Dunlop Kartsport provided us with tyres and Les (May) was really pumped up about it. He could see it was something to support karting and get it out to people who don’t race karts.
How good or bad were the two main actors at driving karts?
They were complete non-karters. They were super keen to jump in, and they did drive a couple of times, but it was very controlled for them. For one of the scenes they would idle around and we’d have to pass them a couple of times. But very controlled. I think in this industry they just won’t take the risk (with an actor).
What is your current job/role?
Driver coach (B Sport – driver coaching and development, human performance and race engineering. Karts to cars. Beginner to pro). I worked at Flat Out karts as the engine builder for 17 years and about three years ago decided to push out and have a dip at full time coaching. I still build engines for a lot of karting customers, but mainly focus on driver training now, from kids through to car racing and work on the transition from high-end karting into cars.
With all the coaching I haven’t raced karts for a few years, but have done a bit of cars, like the Radical at The Bend.
Karl Reindler, Joshua Scott, Anthony Martin, Jaxon Evans, Nick Percat, Tim Blanchard and Scott Andrews are just a few of the pro drivers I have been working with.
The two most recent karting transition kids I have been working with are Aaron Love and Max McRae (Alister’s son).
When did you first get to see the full finished film? And what were your first thoughts?
First time I saw it was the release for the Cinefest Oz Film Festival at the end of last year. I remember we had to fly straight out after it to get to Todd Road for the AKC final. For that release, we did a simulated street race on the streets at Busselton. Sam (Dicker) and I were to just drive around on the street and look like were racing, but 30 metres into it we were full-on having a crack!
Have you kept in touch with any of the cast or crew?
Yeah still touch base with Will (William Lodder, who played Jack) as we became quite close over the film, and keep in contact with Owen and some others via social media. When you’ve worked with someone so hard and so passionately, even over a short time, I think it creates a bit of a bond.
It was four weeks of long days and close to two thousand laps, some days rolling off set at 3am and zero degrees. It was a great experience working in a totally different industry and for a great local Aussie film. All the guys and girls involved were really amazing and put their heart and soul into their jobs the whole way through. I’m grateful to have been involved and to see it hit the screens was really exciting.