In the spot, two Audis, one black, one white, race across a flat expanse of the California desert, leaving billowy dust clouds as they cut through the sand. Out near the horizon, a man and a woman, also arrayed in black and white, engage in an erotic, tango-like pas de deux, mimicking the swift, bold arcs made by the cars. The editorial pace quickens as the cars weave an ever tightening circle around the couple and their dance reaches its final flourish.
Makhani and A Common Thread created the spot to showcase their prowess in automotive advertising. The piece, in fact, seamlessly incorporates virtually every technique common in car ads—high speed photography, aerials, crane shots, pursuit cars and more—not to mention the dazzling choreography of the dancers.
“We want people to know that we are leaders in running footage and running footage ads—in capturing gorgeous automotive imagery that requires beautiful lighting, beautiful photography and perfect execution,” explains A Common Thread executive producer, J.P. McMahon.
Makhani shot the spot over two days in the El Mirage dry lake bed. He employed an Arri Alexa camera for principal photography, RED Epic and Scarlett cameras for specialty shots, and a Phantom camera for high (750 fps) speed. Aerials were captured using remote-control drones. The director also employed a 50-foot Technocrane, a Pursuit Systems camera car and sophisticated car mounts for POVs.
“Although this was a spec project, we made no compromises on the technical side,” said Makhani. Similarly, Makhani and A Common Thread assembled a first class crew that included choreographer Michael Silas, who previously worked as a dancer and choreographer for Lady Gaga.
Makhani originally came up with the concept for the ad two years ago and had been waiting for the right opportunity to pull it off. “The concept was inspired by a music track that I originally heard on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica,” Makhani says. “I liked the idea of cars emulating dancers. Later it became a dance off and, ultimately, a battle between the two.”
McMahon believes that the piece will establish Makhani, who is best known for his work in music videos, as a first-tier car director and cinematographer. “He is a superstar in the music video world and we are convinced that he can be a superstar in advertising,” McMahon notes. “He is a pleasure to work with, delivers beautiful imagery and is a total pro.”
A Common Thread is located at 4081 Redwood Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90066. For more information, call 310.823.7300 or visit http://www.acommonthread.tv