UPDATE: The producer of the movie has kindly dropped in to the comments section to clear things up once and for all.
This is a long, trivial, yet rather funny tale of absurd chance which befell me this week. It involves nitpicking, an indie LGBTQ movie, a Kiwi-turned-Portlander, and a pair of old Ferraris.
I have always loved realistic fiction. I grew up on books by Andrew Clements, Gordon Korman, and classics like Old Yeller and The Great Gatsby. More recently, I opted for the original James Bond novels by Ian Flemming, The Incredible Journey, and Kite Runner, to name just a small and varied sampling. Since coming out of the closet, and to a degree before that, I’ve also begun to read books with LGBT themes/characters. One such book, or rather a series of books which I have not yet completed, is the Something Like... series by Jay Bell. Relatively new, they would best be described as gay coming of age/romance novels. Romance books are not normally the sort of thing I spring for, but I figured I’d give them a shot.
One of the things I immediately noticed was that the author, Mr. Bell, seems to be a car guy (I know, you were wondering if I was gonna get to something-car related). Most cars driven by the main characters were mentioned by name, including a Bentley Continental GT, a slew of Porsches, a Jaguar XJR, a Rolls-Royce Phantom, and a Mazda Miata. The car discussed in the most detail is that which one of the main characters receives as a birthday present: a brand-new Mitsubishi 3000GT. Given that the character is a high school kid in the late 90's, a 3000GT is one hell of a gift, courtesy of the character’s wealthy but absentee parents.
Last week, I discovered that the first book of the series, Something Like Summer, was recently made into a movie. I found it online and gave it a watch. It was a budget independent film, and a pretty good one at that. You’re not here for my film review though, so on to the cars. Since non-auto enthusiast audiences in 2018 won’t necessarily make the connection between an old Mitsubishi and wealth (or at least that’s the reason I’m imagining) the 3000GT was swapped out for a red Ferrari F355 Spider, pictured below. I’m a big fan of the F355. Made in the mid to late 1990's, it looks good and sounds even better. A yellow F355 Spider was actually one of the first exotic cars I ever rode in, but I digress. In the film, the F355 shows up, the new owner is thrilled as would be any teen who got a Ferrari for their birthday, and all seems right in the cinematic world.
Which makes the scene that shortly follows just a little strange. The kid who received the Ferrari gets injured, and the guy who injured him, his love interest, has to drive him to the hospital. And somehow, between the time they are standing outside the car arguing about who gets to drive it and them actually driving away, the Ferrari ages quite drastically.
For reasons unknown, the sleek F355 has been swapped out for a 308GTS, a targa model (assuming it’s not actually a GTB) that is between 10-20 years older than the convertible it is now randomly standing in for. Those who recognize the car from Magnum P.I. will therefore know that the 308 is a product of the 80's. In fact, the 308GTS was introduced in 1977, although the black strip between the headlights of the car in Something Like Summer indicates that it is a quattrovalvolve model made from ‘82 to ‘85.
Normally, when a movie swaps out an on-screen car for a different one, it is done in a subtle manner. This is usually so that a scene involving the destruction of an expensive car can be shot without actually having to write off said car. For a vague example of what I’m talking about, consider Ronin, which substitutes a more budget-friendly BMW 535i in for an M5 in much of the movie’s famous chase/crash scenes. However, the characters of Something Like Summer never crash the 308. Sure, it swerves around a cat and endures a bit of novice stick shift operation, but it emerges none the worse for wear. Furthermore, the interior shots are enough to confirm that this certainly appears to be a real 308GTS, and not a replica. The 308 is worth pretty much the same money as an F355, so it’s not like insurance money could be saved by this substitution. Oh well, the 308 is still an awesome car, so I came to terms with the fact that the characters would be rolling like Tom Selleck for the remainder of the film and forgot about it.
And then the F355 came back.
You may have to turn your brightness up, as the next scene is a nighttime one, but there can be no mistaking the fact that car parked outside our hero’s home is the same as the one he received at the beginning of the film, and not the 308 with the distinct black front bumper that was driven to the hospital. At this point, I just told myself that I was being a complete pedant. The movie was good, and here I was, a dorky car nerd splitting hairs over what was ultimately a minor detail. If Diamonds are Forever, a huge-budget movie in a franchise known for its cars, could remain unhampered by a little stunt driving oversight, nobody should or would care that two different red Ferraris got used in the making of Something Like Summer.
Fast forward a couple more days to yesterday. It was the second day of college classes after spring break, and I was at lunch with one of my close friends, who was born in New Zealand. Her father worked as a key grip (in charge of cameras and related equipment) on the Lord of the Rings movies, among other movies. They moved to Portland when she was young, but she and I have encountered a fun coincidence once before, which involved her Kiwi heritage. During my visit to the island nation in January, I stopped by the Southward Museum. Turns out her childhood home was just a few blocks away from the museum, and they used the museum’s auditorium for most of her elementary school recitals.
Anyhow, as we were talking at lunch, she mentions that the night before she re-watched a movie in which she had appeared as an extra last year. She was merely a body in the crowd, but ended up there because the film was shot in the Portland area and her dad was a key grip, one of the more seasoned crew workers on the film. “You should watch it,” she tells me. “It’s a gay coming-of-age movie, you might like it.” My brain jumped to the conclusion a fraction of a second before she said it.
“It’s called Something Like Summer.”
After getting over my surprise, I explained that I had discovered and watched this relatively new, obscure movie a mere two days before. We chatted about it for awhile, with her telling me about her memories and experiences with the set, before I remembered the question that had come to the front of my mind while watching the movie.
“Why the heck did the characters randomly switch back and forth between two different Ferraris?”
Although she remembered the character having a Ferrari of some sort, she had no recollection of the specific car(s). Like I said, unless you are both a pedant and a hardcore car enthusiast, you wouldn’t notice or care. But being the nice friend that she is, she texted her dad to ask about the swapping of the cars. He didn’t notice either (I’m really starting to look like a dweeb at this point), but of his own volition, her dad texted the producer of the movie to ask if two different kinds of Ferraris had been used in the film.
Below are the screenshots of my friend’s conversation with her dad.
So to recap: Last week, I watched a random obscure movie online that contained an automotive error so minor and trivial it was bound to go completely unnoticed. A few days later, I found out that one of my best friends was actually an extra in that very movie. I asked her about the blooper, she asked her dad, and her dad asked the producer. And while I didn’t get a definite answer from the producer, I did get his acknowledgement of what happened, along with the most plausible explanation from someone who worked extensively on the making of the movie. Does this mean we know for certain why both cars were used? Nope, but it doesn’t really matter. They were both cool cars, they both got screen time, and the movie was fun regardless. And the odds of the chain of events that transpired actually happening? Pretty darn low. Usually stuff like that only happens in movies.
Also, it just occurred to me that my friend and her dad may have asked the producer on my behalf why he used two Ferraris, but I completely forgot to have them pass along the fact that I liked his movie. Oh well, I guess they know where to find him.