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
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.