Learn what ballet has to do with Director Henrik Hansen and his “co-director” in this new film for BMW:
A car and motorcycle enthusiast most of his life, Director Henrik Hansen’s commercials don’t just engage, but rather catapult the viewer into the narrative with thrilling action, masterful use of light and compelling subjects. His innovative storytelling pushes the limits, both technologically and creatively. We took a moment to catch up with Henrik and discuss his latest spot for BMW, “Directed By M4.”
Let’s start at the beginning. How did this concept come to life? What was the inspiration behind it?
KBS presented us with this unique idea for the campaign “Directed by BMW”–having an M4 direct a 4 Series. The first thing I thought of was the way a ballet teacher and a student interact; the guiding, coaching, challenging and the student at times trying to outdo the mentor.
What would you say was the BMW M4’s “vision” for filming the BMW 4 Series?
I think the M4, although a beast of a car, is a cinematic purist. I really wanted to maintain the authenticity and soul with the shots from car to car, so you could believe that it all came from a camera mounted on the front of the M4. Even if that meant allowing vibration at times, I thought it might even add something.
In terms of M4’s director-like qualities, did you borrow any from your own repertoire?
Well, the purist thing, actually. I believe that the more I can get in camera without post effects, the better.
Can you talk about using split-screen as a storytelling device? What are the challenges?
For this film, split-screen worked well to tell the story in a very short span of time. There wasn’t the luxury of a long sequence of only what the M4 sees of the 4 Series, before revealing that the M4 was actually the one directing. It had to all be told at once, and the split screen was helpful in making that clear through a variety of scenarios.
The precise choreography in this spot is impressive. How did you manage to make these powerhouse cars appear as if they are effortlessly dancing around each other?
A lot of that credit goes to the expert drivers and the editor, but I always try to shoot in a way that is easy to follow. The center of attention is clear and easy to read even when there is a lot of action going on. And I think that makes creative editing easier in the end.
Tell us more about the location. How did it help bring the concept to life?
We needed a contemporary city and an epic bridge that could accommodate high-speed driving and two-car maneuvers. Lisbon was the right choice, being a city that effortlessly blends heritage with striking modernism.
Do you have a favorite scene or shot from this project and why?
I like the final shot and how it naturally resolves into the “pack shot.” It’s always nice when this is an organic outcome of action on screen.
Watch Director Henrik Hansen’s new spot for BMW above, and keep up with his latest work here.