We were lucky enough to watch a BMW commercial as it was being made. The commercial, featuring two M3 American Le Mans GT racing cars, was created to celebrate the 35th anniversary of BMW of North America's incorporation.
BMW produced a similar commercial last year, one meant to commemorate the Rahal Letterman's inaugural season in American Le Mans. It included one M3 and was shot at Sebring. This year, BMW decided to double the fun — it produced a commercial with both the #90 M3 of Bill Auberlen and Tommy Milner and the #92 M3 of Dirk Muller and Joey Hand.
To capture this special, high-paced scene and package it successfully, BMW NA called upon the advertising group GSD&M of Austin, Texas and a firm known as the Bandito Brothers, a full service media group with a penchant for the extreme, guerilla-style advertising. The former manages clients like LL Bean, Southwest Airlines, and the PGA tour; the latter is publicly known largely for its M3-themed short film Living in the Lights and recent Mountain Dew and BF Goodrich drift commercials.
When I arrived trackside for BMW's race-car testing on day two of the film session, I found the Bandito Brothers team hard at work preparing a production M3 chase car for a day of shooting. The M3 chase car was a replica of the white M3 that ran in the 2009 One Lap of America; it was donated by the BMW Performance Driving School in Spartanburg, South Carolina. A BMW staff member drove it down to Florida.
The chase car boasted several sophisticated camera rigs, including two long bars reaching just beyond the full width of the car at the front and rear and a small rig protruding from the front passenger seat. Across the rig at the rear were three Canon EOS 5D Mk II still cameras (they shoot video in 1080p HD). The front rig carried similar mounts and cameras as did the rig in place of the passenger door.
As you might expect, the cameras did not finish filming without damage. According to our hosts, on the day before I arrived, Rahal Letterman driver Dirk Muller was being a little too aggressive while following the camera car and managed to drive into a 5D, spilling its innards out onto the pavement.
Moving into the afternoon, the Bandito Brothers team were crawling around the paddock and capturing video of the pair of M3 GT's as they turned hot lap after hot lap around the circuit with the rest of the field undergoing testing. As the sun began to slip behind the horizon, the chase M3 was wheeled back onto the circuit and allowed to run about three laps with pair of M3 GT's to round out two full days of filming and documenting the M3 GT's in their natural habitat.
Once finished, the commercial debuted during the airing of the 58th 12 Hours of Sebring. BMW also posted its own making-of feature in its in-house magazine.
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