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73. James Gay-Rees

James Gay-Rees
Age 56
Occupation Producer, Box to Box Films
Nationality British
Position Last Year New

James Gay-Rees is a British film producer. He has produced numerous films, including critically acclaimed documentaries Senna (2010) and Amy (2015), for which he won multiple awards and nominations. He is also a producer of the hit Drive to Survive documentary series.

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After graduating from the University of Southampton, Gay-Rees started his film career working for Miramax in London. He subsequently moved to New York for a year and later started working as a head of development at Los Angeles-based Orbit Productions. Gay-Rees eventually decided to pursue his career in documentary production; his first movie was Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

His second film, Senna (2010), also received critical acclaim and won a BAFTA Award for Best Documentary. In 2015, James produced Amy, nominated for numerous awards, including BAFTA awards for Best Documentary and Outstanding British Film and Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 88th Academy Awards.

James Gay-Rees, Drive to Survive’s executive producer, commented on the series:

It’s a soap opera. Television works when it’s relatable. So, you know, the fact that we basically humanize these drivers and take the helmets off, you realize they are not just units you stick in a car to make go, you know, they’re kids who’ve just got x and y going on in their lives.

It’s the same with any sport; as soon as you get away from the PR version of modern sport and get into the actuality of it, people invest in the characters.

Formula 1 has always been an arm’s length sport, but now it feels up close and personal.

The younger drivers who are more social media aware get it because everybody’s always filming everything.

It’s totally normalized now, isn’t it? So the younger generation, I think, are like, ‘Bring it on.’ Even ones you wouldn’t expect, like Charles [Leclerc] and Carlos [Sainz] at Ferrari, are totally into it, even though they’re part of this massive team.

The older drivers are like, ‘I don’t need it.’ But at the same time, you need to earn the trust, and that’s where the balance comes into it.

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