When BMW announced it would be developing a followup to the fan-favorite “The Hire” short film series, the BMW fanbase went nuts. We all loved the short films featuring “The Driver”, an unnamed getaway driver played by Clive Owen, kicking ass and power-sliding various sporty BMWs from an era when the Bavarians could do almost no wrong. So, naturally, the followup to The Hire series, “The Escape“, was hotly anticipated, as it brought back both Owen and BMW Films for one last ride. It also debuted the G30-generation 5 Series to the world, which was an added bonus. Recently, the creators of The Escape spoke at “Breaking Bad: How To Make An Effective Brand Film”, a panel on brand films at the 2017 Brand Film Festival.
It can be difficult to make a short film for a brand, because you want to showcase the product and make sure the brand’s ethos comes across all without seeming like an advertisement. According to Bruce Bildsten, Creative Director for both The Escape and The Hire, “It’s about keeping it authentic”. Something that BMW allowed them to do when making the film and something the team was very grateful for. “They were never afraid to let us shoot the car up, make it dirty,” said Bildsten. If you’ve seen The Escape, you know that the 5er gets roughed up quite a bit and they supposedly did the same to a few different cars, which makes BMW’s leniency all the more surprising, considering how new the 5 Series was.
In one of the scenes, the baddie, played by Jon Bernthal, rappels out of a helicopter onto the hood of the 5 Series. It was supposed to make a big dent and look imposing but the dent Bernthal made was apparently too small. So director Neill Blomkamp made a stuntman jump off of a ladder onto the hood to make the dent bigger. So they didn’t pull any punches in beating up the 5 Series and BMW was perfectly okay with it all.
BMW didn’t want to just make another advertisement. When trying to make a branded film, you have to make it authentic. Otherwise, “they feel a lot like ads, and that’s where you’re going to fail,” said Trudy Hardy, BMW North America’s VP of Marketing. And that’s exactly what BMW wanted to avoid. Something the Bavarians feel they succeeded in. “Everyone now looks back on this as the greatest investment the company ever made. It has exponentially paid off, not only in our brand equity and our brand value, but also sales,” said Hardy. “I think we created fans for life.” We agree.