If it ain’t Bro­ken…

This movie busi­ness is easy. I strug­gle to con­jure a sin­gle rea­son to hurl abuse at the crew and storm off to my trailer

Wheels (Australia) - - Falcon Moments - To view the fin­ished short film of the Cal­i­for­nia T in Aus­tralia, go to Wheels­mag.com.au

The town of Bro­ken Hill, con­sid­ered the far­west­ern NSW gate­way to the out­back, has a long his­tory with film. It be­gan in 1971 with Wake in Fright, which opened the door to hun­dreds of fea­ture films, TV se­ries, doc­u­men­taries, com­mer­cials and mu­sic videos. But surely Bro­ken Hill, and neigh­bour­ing Sil­ver­ton, peaked with Mad Max 2, once Aus­tralia’s most suc­cess­ful box of­fice film. If you’re a big fan of the fran­chise, Mad­max­movies.com doc­u­ments pre­cise lo­ca­tions where the key scenes were filmed. If you visit the area, make sure you stop for a drink at the Sil­ver­ton Ho­tel, with its walls cov­ered in movie mem­o­ra­bilia, and where the VW Bee­tle ‘ bas­tard love child’ of Max’s In­ter­cep­tor is parked out­side.

Some 14 or so hours of footage will take four days to shoot; once ‘in the can’, it will re­quire an­other solid week of edit­ing work to bring it down to a rough cut, then a fur­ther day’s work to re­fine it to the fin­ished prod­uct – a mi­nus­cule 60 sec­onds of (hope­fully) vis­ually en­gag­ing brand en­hance­ment in­tended to re-fire en­thu­si­asm for the Cal­i­for­nia T some 18 months after its lo­cal launch.

The la­bo­ri­ous pro­duc­tion process feels a bit like mix­ing up a gi­ant, com­plex, won­der­ful cock­tail, then tip­ping it all down the sink, bar a sin­gle tiny thim­ble of de­li­cious­ness. All this for just 60 sec­onds? Se­ri­ously? No one is pre­pared to talk money, but it’s fairly clear that Fer­rari would need to shift a few ex­tra cars to pay for a pro­duc­tion of this scale.

Ac­tu­ally, on sec­ond thoughts, some lib­eral tick­ing of the Cal­i­for­nia’s op­tions boxes would mostly cover it. You could own a new Cal­i­for­nia sim­i­lar to this one for just un­der $410,000 plus on-roads, but the re­al­ity is that no-one does. In the world of Fer­rari, that fig­ure is more like an al­lur­ing wink from a beau­ti­ful woman; ac­tu­ally con­sum­mat­ing the re­la­tion­ship gen­er­ally takes quite a bit more. Like, about a Porsche Boxster’s worth, in the case of our car. Yep, the Cal­i­for­nia you see here was op­tioned up by a value of $116,000, a bit more than most cus­tomers spend, but not by much. Some high­lights, which you know must leave a Fer­rari dealer prin­ci­pal wet­ting him­self with a mix of de­light and as­ton­ish­ment, in­clude $1255 for a yel­low tacho face, and $3000 for the two small Fer­rari shields re­cessed into the front guards. Based on those prices, it would seem churl­ish to ques­tion the Rosso Fuoco paint (a spe­cial three-layer process that adds $35,000.) I was in­trigued, though, by the in­clu­sion of a $2720 op­tion listed as ‘High Emo­tion Low Emis­sion’, given it sounds sus­pi­ciously like Gwyneth Pal­trow vis­it­ing the toi­let after a ve­gan vin­daloo. Turns out it’s a raft of fuel-sav­ing mea­sures, in­clud­ing idle-stop and an air-con­di­tion­ing ef­fi­ciency mode, in­tended to drop the Cal­i­for­nia T’s CO2 out­put by a few grams. I’m get­ting highly emo­tional just think­ing about it.

A NEW lo­ca­tion, now with even red­der dirt, and the Cal­i­for­nia is rolled out of her trans­porter like a movie star­let be­ing wheeled out to the pa­parazzi. I sus­pect we’re all think­ing the same thing: yes, her bum does look big, but of course we’re all way too po­lite to even whis­per it. The facelift that came with the shift to turbo V8 power brought a big im­prove­ment to the Cali’s ap­pear­ance, but there’s no deny­ing the bul­bous back end needed to ac­com­mo­date the kid­die seats and fold­ing roof. I’m tempted to crank up that hip-hop ode to all things big and booty-full, Sir Mix­alot’s ‘Baby Got Back’ on my ipod and thun­der it through the Cali’s sound sys­tem, but don’t want to be dis­re­spect­ful to the ‘tal­ent’. The front-three-quar­ter is a more flat­ter­ing view, or bet­ter still, from be­hind the wheel…

So, on a pri­vate prop­erty pock­et­ing a healthy lo­ca­tion fee, on an ochre-coloured dirt road freshly graded for our pur­pose, I chan­nel Mad Max’s Goose and kick the Cal­i­for­nia in the guts. Tony the cam­era-drone op­er­a­tor wants speed; his buzzing craft needs to cap­ture the car’s pol­ished en­ergy jux­ta­posed against the harsh, scrubby en­vi­ron­ment.

It may not be the last of the V8 in­ter­cep­tors, but it is a lovely en­gine to ex­tend hard, even if it mostly sounds like it’s op­er­at­ing un­der­wa­ter com­pared to the old atmo unit. Blur­ring things fur­ther is the fact that all four pre­mium Ger­man man­u­fac­tur­ers also make su­perb twin-turbo V8s, negat­ing Fer­rari’s once-dom­i­nant un­der­bon­net ad­van­tage. Any­way, I push this to one side as I bury the throt­tle and set what is surely a world speed record for a Fer­rari Cal­i­for­nia T on dirt. In western NSW, at least. On a Fri­day.

Tony’s drone is a mag­nif­i­cent thing, even to any­one barely drone-cu­ri­ous. It’s all milled alu­minium and car­bon­fi­bre, with its mega-dol­lar cam­era mounted in a pre­ci­sion-swiv­el­ling gim­bal, yet it doesn’t stand a chance again the Cal­i­for­nia’s 412kw, 755Nm and 3.6-sec­ond 0-100km/h time. Ben ra­dios a re­quest that I back off a bit. So with a beau­ti­ful, slightly alien-look­ing air­craft buzzing a few me­tres in the air over the bon­net, star­ing at me through its all-see­ing one eye, I re­lax and let the Cal­i­for­nia lope in the fifth of its seven ra­tios and just en­joy the mo­ment; sun high above, cool air ca­ress­ing my face, and hope­fully cin­e­matic gold be­ing cap­tured in high-def glory.

It oc­curs to me there’s noth­ing hard about this movie busi­ness. I strug­gle to con­jure a sin­gle rea­son to hurl abuse at the crew and storm off to my trailer. The peo­ple are ter­rific; in­dus­tri­ous and col­lab­o­ra­tive; the car is cos­set­ing and supremely tol­er­ant of the dirtroad abuse; and hugely fun to slide around with the ESC switched off.

I glance sky­ward. Tony’s drone has as­cended rapidly. ‘Hmm, go­ing for the clas­sic aerial wide shot, Coen­broth­ers-style,” I think know­ingly. (I’m in the movie biz now, peo­ple; my thought pat­terns are all gen­er­ated in 16:1 widescreen, okay?) Then Tony’s drone stops as­cend­ing. It hov­ers for a mo­ment, then starts to rock wildly, like a drunk dwarf danc­ing. Sud­denly it’s not hov­er­ing any­more. It’s plum­met­ing. Twenty thou­sand dol­lars of Mclaren-spec air­craft is about to hit the ground at near-ter­mi­nal ve­loc­ity; with ‘ter­mi­nal’ be­ing the op­er­a­tive word. The dis­tant thud of shattering drone co­in­cides di­rectly with the lower half of Tony’s face seem­ing to fall in a heap at his feet.

Once the wreck­age is re­trieved, Wheels’ snap­per Brunelli goes for a shot of it be­ing for­lornly in­spected by Ben and Tony. Some­one taps Cris­tian on the shoul­der. “Don’t shoot that, mate,” they say. “It’s like pho­tograph­ing your kid after he’s been run over in the drive­way.”

For­tu­nately this is the movie busi­ness, so yes, of course we have a spare drone. The smashed one is quickly for­got­ten as New Drone rises, the Cal­i­for­nia barks back into life, and, steadily, metic­u­lously, the cap­tur­ing of the most lov­ingly-crafted 60 sec­onds of Fer­rari footage you’ll ever see, can re­sume.

That’s a wrap, peo­ple.

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