Usually when three large, intimidating men in leather motorcycle gear walk into a room, there’s cause for concern…
In a recent case, it was quite the opposite. The three men in question are some of the nicest guys we have ever worked with. They represent BMW’s prestigious motorcycle design team from Germany and they create some of the most amazing motorcycles on the road. They were in my office because they wanted to discuss a new super top-secret motorcycle project: Concept 101.
This project would be another collaboration with our good friend Roland Sands, but would have a very different look than our last project, “Concept 90.” The demographic for this motorcycle would be completely different, so I was really excited to take on the project.
The aesthetic of the piece was designed to portray class and elegance rooted in craftsmanship. Those who can afford this bike don’t live a basic life. They live a stylized life. However, many are eager to escape the city, taking refuge in the simplicity of small towns or rural getaways. Although they choose to leave the glamour of the city behind, they still bring a hint of it with them. It is a melding of rustic craftsmanship with modern standards and finesse. This audience is used to polish and perfection and the piece would have to inject that flavor into a picturesque setting with every shot.
A lead designer at BMW Mottorrad, Edgar Heinrich explained the bike like this:
“The Concept 101 is BMW Motorrad’s interpretation of endless highways and the dream of freedom and independence—the perfect embodiment of American touring. Designing this big touring bike was amazingly exciting for us because we haven’t been involved with a motorcycle concept like this before. To me, the Concept 101 is the epitome of elegance, power and luxury on two wheels.” Although most Americans will correctly associate the bike’s 101 name with California’s Highway 101, another inspiration behind the name comes from the engine’s 1649cc displacement of approximately 101 cubic inches.
The concept was broken down into three main parts. They included Roland assembling a motorcycle, a leatherworker (Juan Lara) working on various leather goods, and a group of German designers riding motorcycles as a group. Each part worked together to convey our message. Production began roughly two hours north of LA at the “Camarillo Ranch Foundation” which is a former horse stable turned museum. We utilized one of the stables and their main barn for the bike assembly and leatherworker portion of the shoot.
Despite our massive shot list, we spent a lot of time dressing the sets and crafting our lighting to create something special. I wanted the lighting to have the same core elements, but differ between each scene. The early sunrise look was created using some massive lights and mirrors. We had to use large lights so we could maintain the same look throughout the day despite the sun’s actual location.
We shot on our RED Dragon with Cooke anamorphic lenses, which gave us an absolutely gorgeous cinematic look. We used a hazer to fog up the barn so we could see the light leaking through the wooden slats.
We brought our friend Adam Fedderly in to handle the photography portion of the campaign. He used our overall aesthetic and translated that into some brilliant still frames.
Day 2 took us deep into the hills of Santa Barbara. It was important to me for the driving footage to feel like it transcended all of the roads across America and ended on the coast of California. We found a road that offered various environments and somehow encapsulated everything we were looking for.
The bike was extremely top secret and although we had police officers closing each side of the road, we were still vulnerable to onlookers catching a sneak peek. We had to fully cover the bike between shots, which made our lives difficult!
Shooting with the Ultimate Arm was a treat as always. We spent about 6 hours crammed in there, but the footage we got made the time fly by!
Of course we couldn’t make it through a shoot without seeing some massive burnouts from Roland. Thankfully he waited until the end of the shoot to destroy the tires!
Another fun one in the books!