Ah, shoot days... Weeks of preparation, costly rentals, early mornings, long hours, batteries, food, fatigue, clients, timing. Stress... but that is what we live for.
The Mercedes shoot had to be done in two days for myriad reasons. I developed a creative concept whose timeline revolved around nightfall, we needed a shot in service which was closed on Sunday's, and we need to shoot in a dark empty dealership (which only closed early on Sunday's).
As noted in the previous blog, we had to show off the dealership's unique AMG Experience Center, one of the most well-stocked in the state. Now, if we did this with purely camera angles and some cheesy voiceover about how the showroom had air conditioning (No shit, Sherlock?), we wouldn't be The Function Factory. The rough concept was to use the AMG GT as a hero car, the car you had always dreamed of buying. Much like a dream, we would open on a dark showroom, the car would rev and echo ominously in the expanse, the drama would quicken by showing details of the car itself while also showing off it's dramatic setting (The AMG Experience Center at your local Mercedes-Benz of Gilbert, conveniently located just of the US-60 in Gilbert Arizona). We would then cut to the customer experience, show off the dealership a bit, and end on some dramatic rolling shots with the car driving off into the sunset.
We'll call that the rough draft.
Day one of filming was actually used to film the later part of the timeline, we needed to get the service shot while service was still open in the middle of the day, and we would use the evening to get the driving footage so that we could focus all of our time for Sunday on getting the shots inside while they were closed.
We arrived early in the day to set up and get organized. The first shot in the service bay was simply of a tech working on a G65 V12 BiTurbo (What could be a more intriguing engine bay?), we also used this time to get the GT pulling in for service, and while we waited on lunch, I took the time to shoot the cover photo you see on this article. Just as we finished filming those scenes, the GT was purchased outright by a very nice gentleman and his wife who pulled up in a gorgeous Nardo Grey V10 Audi R8. Good thing they had a second, white AMG GT in stock.
After lunch, with a couple hours to spare before we needed the evening shots (and the keys to a couple new AMG's *cough*), we filmed some incredible footage of the new C63s and GT on a closed road behind the dealership. This footage, at the time just B-Roll, worked out remarkably well in the final cut you see here.
The evening shots went well with me driving a used Honda Odyssey off the lot, Steve filming out of the back, and Charles driving the GT. We could go confidently into the following day of filming.
Again, we arrived early to set up and plan out the day. For the sake of attention to detail, we decided to reshoot the GT pulling into the service bay. Since the initial car had sold and we had switched to the second GT, we didn't want any minor differences between the cars in frame.
From there we ate lunch, shot some B-Roll, and waited for the sun to drop below the horizon, the dealer would close, the shadows would even out, and we could get the rest of our shots. Part of the original concept was to show the interaction between a salesman and customers, this shot ended up being thrown out when Trevor showed us the actual functionality of the AMG Experience Center. The centerpiece was a sleek theater which ran videos of the AMG Driving Center, and featured an interactive 'Build Your Car' simulator. Charles immediately saw the production value in this tool and staged me in front of the screen to get the shot of "building" our hero car. While standing there I pictured the video warping and merging flawlessly with our initial shot of the GT in the showroom, it was a perfect transition.
Once the ambient lighting in the dealership fell enough to make sense in the production timeline, we got to work. We first shot the GT's headlights coming on and the engine starting, then moved into the detail shots of the car itself, and finished with the ambient shot of the showroom echoing. To show off the dealership we shot from the second story offices, reception, and more of the showroom in general.
Charles did an incredible job putting this video together and he gets faster at it every time. After compiling the shots he added all the creative sound effects and transitions. It later turned out the only thing we had to change for Mercedes Compliance was the spacing on the logo at the end.
That's a Wrap
And so, you have the finished product in front of you. Weeks of preparation, two days of filming, $1,000's of equipment, and years of practice working together. Our clients were thrilled, we delivered the final video to them in a silver box on a USB drive that looked like a Mercedes key fob.
On to the next shoot.
Special thanks to: Mercedes of Gilbert, Trevor Shipman, Steve Schulak, Alex Tillman, Jennifer Tillman, and Charles Siritho.