10:39 04 October 2011
Life-long Formula One fanManish Pandeydeveloped and wrote the dazzling documentary Senna, which explores the extreme dedication displayed by arguably the worlds greatest ever F1 driver, Ayrton Senna.
The film charts the Brazilians rise to become a triple World Champion despite his battles with the sports administrators and his rivals on the track, finally culminating in his tragic death at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
The film is directed by Asif Kapadia and is the first-ever documentary picture from Working Title. Sennawon the 2011 World Cinema Documentary Audience Award at this years Sundance Festival.
Congratulations on the Sundance Award: to perform well in the USA must be a boost? They dont know Senna as well as the rest of the world
We knew that we would make a film that was appealing to all kinds of people. It is about a character that goes on a journey. That would be my tagline for the film: Senna - The Ultimate Journey. Also, because Americans react well to it that is the biggest indication that we haven't just made a film for F1 fans.
We have been educated in what is important about a story like this. I had to remind myself all along: Bring your passion, bring your knowledge but leave F1 outside. Leave it at the door of the film and let yourself be taken on the journey and to be brutal about it.
The family dont usually sanction film projects on Senna and yet you persuaded them. How so?
Having that face to face meeting and for them to see over two hours of footage that we had, that was really important for them to see that we weren't trying to exploit the story. We had that face-to-face connection.
There's a moment with Senna as a triple champion where he is on top of the world and he flies into the sunset in his helicopter. I dont think anybody who sees that footage thinks 'you are an over privileged guy who walked into it.' What you see is a very content man, very happy for a small moment in his life.
It was amazing to get footage from the family. You cant shoot that or make that stuff up. Theres a piece of footage that I just think 'Wow!' It took five and half months to actually get the video, to find it, secure-ship it, to transfer it, clean it up and decide what we could use. That was real detective work.
How did you find Bernie Ecclestone, who gave you such unprecedented access to the F1 archives at Biggin Hill?
We met him once and he did not need to help us but he shook our hands and gave us everything we wanted, unprecedented access.
Presumably he was motivated in part by his own affection for Senna?
Apparently, he has just one photo of a driver at his home and that is of Senna. When Senna used to come to England he stayed with Bernie and knew his family very well. Senna was quite a humble guy. He used to turn up literally in time to wash, sleep and change his clothes. Hed turn up there with his toothbrush.
You have idolised Senna for so long, Manish: what have you learned from this process?
It actually came down to the fact that hes a pretty lovely guy and thats the point. Its not hagiography. You dont need to do that. You realise at the end of the film that he was a human being who died in a very tragic way and fairly alone. There was just a certain dignity to him. He was a good guy.
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