Television commercials have remained a sort of hobby for famous Hollywood directors. The challenge of marrying consumer product sales with worthwhile art, being constrained to 15-30 second spots, can be enticing. Some directors actually began their careers producing advertisements, while others see it as a chance to flex their muscles.
Each director’s approach to making a commercial varies and typically reflects their personal style (like David Lynch’s bizarre, abstract spot for the PS2 or Michael Bay’s heavy metal, motorcycle-filled Victoria’s Secret ad). Oftentimes, the directors will rely on cast members and marketable similarities (like Baz Luhrmann’s ad for Chanel No.5 after Moulin Rouge or Darren Aronofsky’s commercial for Yves Saint Laurent in conjunction with Black Swan).
Recently, two-time Academy Award nominated Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting and Milk) produced a set of three intriguing commercials boasting the praises of the revolutionary BMW i8.
The three Gus Van Sant commercials are intriguing, engaging advertisements that reflect the director’s avant-garde style and penchant for descriptive monologues.
BMW i8 Gus Van Sant Commercial: Genesis
The first entry in the Gus Van Sant commercials sets the formula you’ll see in each one: the actor/actress’s first-person voiceover and close-up facial footage interspersed with quick pans across the moving i8’s body. “Genesis” relies heavily on shadows and dark textures before breaking out into the sepia.
The first commercial discusses the sparks of life of BMW’s revolutionary i8 as it emerged from dedicated research and development. BMW sells the i8 as something visionary that hasn’t been achieved before, much like it did in the i8’s Arthur C. Clarke “Hello Future” commercial. After trend-setting innovation, the supercar considers itself a victory over the impossible.
It closes with its new catchphrase, “I am the possible. I am i8.”
BMW i8 Gus Van Sant Commercial: Powerful Idea
The second Gus Van Sant commercial, “Powerful Idea,” features Sam Hazeldine. His monologue focuses on the wild, bold nature of the BMW i8 and its innovations that resist being restrained or ignored. The ad boasts the necessity of the idea that an electric car can be strong and sporty, embracing its mission to change people’s notions on performance and efficiency.
The caliber of cinematography matches the quality of the word choice, and much of the artistry is made on-set with the use of the camera itself. This is debatably the best of the three thanks to Sam’s escalating fervor and rise in enthusiasm.
“I am the possible. I am i8.”
BMW i8 Gus Van Sant Commercial: Attitude
While Mickey Sumner provides a fitting contrast to the masculine tones of the other two voice actors, her monologue in “Attitude” is a bit stiff thanks to lines about “carbon fiber.” Still, she gets the idea across about the inner strength and spirit of the BMW i8 that demands attention. Its futuristic aesthetics are front and center, as are its claims to be alive and real.
With plenty of fast cuts and lens flares, most modern audience members will see the the Gus Van Sant commercial series as very “cinematic.”
“I am the possible. I am i8.”
Videos Courtesy of Nina Puri.