Motorcycle Film Director Interview: Mark Neale

Meeting with the British director of Faster, Fastest, Hitting The Apex..

From documentary to film to video game

Mark Neale is a British director who has toured with musical groups and MotoGP riders. He is particularly known for his documentaries like Faster, Fastest, Hitting The Apex or even The Doctor, the Tornado and the Kentucky kid.

What movie influenced you the most?

The work of Martin Scorsese, especially Goodfellas with its energy, its intensity and its comic side thanks to Joe Pesci! I can also cite the work of Luis Buñuel for its surreal and erotic side. Or Once upon a time in the West, especially because of the strength of the style and its music.

What words best describe your vision of cinema?

“WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? In my opinion, a movie, like a novel or a song, should grab attention, whether it’s because of its style, its characters, its story, or its pacing. So, the whole challenge is to keep the audience spellbound for two hours.

What is the difference between making a video for U2, a documentary and taking part in the creation of a video game?

For MotoGP22, the biggest difference is that I had no contact with the stars, except in a pre-recorded way. It was more like archaeology, I had to search for treasures among the images available to me. I didn’t film anything. My challenge was to ask myself how to make everything come to life and pretend that it was happening here and now.

What is the easiest? Work with a music group, an actor or a GP driver?

It all depends on the people you work with. With the riders, especially early on when we were going FASTER, there were some who weren’t interested or wary of us. But in general they seemed to enjoy themselves and said what they wanted. Everything was new for them, we were a film crew that came from the United States just for them. Today it is no longer the same, they are used to a true tsunami of media, with cameras everywhere, an army of public relations trying to control what message to transmit, etc.
With musicians and actors, however, it’s a very different process. We work together to achieve a specific goal. It is more collaborative but also more fragile.

Mark Neale and Kevin Schwantz at the FASTER Premiere in Hollywood in April 2004
Mark Neale and Kevin Schwantz at FASTER Premiere Hollywood in April 2004

What were the essential steps in the development of Nine? And how long did she take?

Milestone contacted me in 2019 and we met at MotoGP Misano in September. It was the weekend of the E-sport finals, there was a special area for video games in the paddock. I saw players walking around dressed as real MotoGP riders. The line between video game and reality began to blur at this point.

NINE is an original concept by Michele Caletti. Together with Matteo Pezzotti, he created a plan for the game, then they needed a script.
We started working together at the end of 2020. At the time, we weren’t sure what NINE could be.
The project soon turned into something bigger than we had imagined. At the end of 2020 I finished the script. It took me about three months to research and write it. At the same time, I edited the first video.
In the middle of 2021 we had all the elements ready and I edited the other videos. It took me three months. My team grew towards the end of the year and now has a dozen people in the US and Italy to manage music, graphics and mixing.
For everything else, that is, putting everything into game form, it was Milestone who handled it directly, from Milan. It is therefore a great international collaboration.
It was the kind of project you dream of, great people to work with, and one rule: create something great.

What were the challenges of making Nine?

There were a lot of old videos to study for gold. Basically, I was using the skills I learned from making my movies, but this time I had to write a lot more to tell the story. The last challenge was to record the narration myself. I couldn’t match Ewan McGregor, but it was a great experience.

What are you most proud of and why?

It’s always good to do something new and different. When we did FASTER, he gave me that kind of feeling. No one was doing anything like that back then and people loved it. For this reason FASTER remains very special to me.

NINE too. It’s not often that someone comes to you with a strange but interesting idea and above all, one that works!

What is your dream as a director?

Always the same goal: continue!

Tell a story
Tell a story

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