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Michael Schumacher

What can we expect from the Schumacher documentary?

Ahead of the highly-anticipated release of Schumacher – a documentary offering an intimate insight into the life of F1 legend Michael Schumacher – the film's producer and director has explained the work that went on behind the scenes to make it.

Michael Schumacher
To news overview © Ferrari

Marking 30 years to the day that he made his Formula 1 debut, 15 September sees the release of Schumacher, a new Netflix documentary that offers an intimate portrait of the life of Michael Schumacher.

With the project receiving the support of his family and featuring interviews with them – as well as contributions from his rivals and colleagues – there has been a high level of anticipation over the film.

Vanessa Nöcker, who produced and directed the documentary, has given a further insight into what can be expected. She explains that the aim was not to make a sports documentary but to focus more on who Schumacher was as a person.

"We all knew his face," Nöcker tells the In The Fast Lane podcast. "We knew his races and his fights and his falls, and him getting up and falling and getting up again, but there was not much information or background about his personality, his character."

Given the intention to focus on elements of Schumacher's personal life, Nöcker admits that it took some time to gain the trust of the German's family, but that they were happy with the approach to examine his career achievements alongside aspects of his private character.

There was also the issue of how to address Schumacher's skiiing accident at the end of 2013. The seven-time World Champion suffered severe head injuries in the accident and his family have chosen to keep details of his health private since then.

"We all knew that we can't ignore it," Nöcker said. "Because if you make a film right now and we just ignore the fact that there was the accident, every fan would run mad.

"We knew that we had to address that topic, and it took us quite a while to find out how we would do that. But we didn't hunt any headlines, that was not the idea. The idea was really to find a way to tell the whole story, but respect the family."

In terms of putting the film together, a huge amount of work went into selecting the materials to feature, with one member of the film-making team spending 10 days going through footage to use.

Nöcker was keen to find clips that fans may not have seen before, both in terms of Formula 1 broadcasts and also using private films from the family.

However, the documentary does not shy away from addressing more controversial moments of Schumacher's career, something that his family – as well as their manager, Sabine Kehm – were supportive of.

"Corinna [Schumacher's wife] and Sabine were very straight on that," Nöcker explained. "They said, 'Please tell the story like it is'.

"This film was never meant to be a praising documentary. That was not the thing, and we said that from the beginning on. We always said that and we always stick to that.

"It was a very open relationship on that, and they didn't want us to tell anything that is not true. Everybody knew really that he had his moments treating other drivers or was not always easy to be around. Everybody knows that, so it wasn't really that big of a deal."

When Schumacher's family viewed the film, Nöcker feels that they were "moved" by it, and Nöcker herself also came away from the project thinking that Schumacher was "a very cool guy".

"He was this perfect mixture of the driving hero, and a mechanic that really knows the car, and he can use a screwdriver, and he's so down to earth," she said.

"He never wanted to be a star. That's why he's so private, and he always wants to be private and he stays private, because he never wanted that. He didn't like the red carpet and the flashlights and all that. He didn't need that, he wanted the driving.

"And that's really what impressed me. If somebody is so huge and such a humongous star, and he just wants to stay on the ground and nothing changes that, that's really impressive in our world."


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