BMW Films, featuring car chases, intricate plot twists and witty dialogue, took automobile advertising to a new level in 2001 and 2002. These are not your average 30, 60 or 90 second television commercials. They’re seven to nine minute short films featuring Clive Owen playing a character hired to drive BMW cars in James Bond-like scenarios, made for broadband users alone, each finishing with full credits at the end.
Season 1 Films
Clive Owen, driving a BMW series-7 car, outrides a van full of gunmen intent on killing his passenger, a jeweler (Tomas Milian). Click on the image below to play the Ambush video in YouTube (HD)
Ambush was written by Andrew Kevin Walker and directed by John Frankenheimer via Anonymous Content, with director of photography Newton Thomas Sigel, producers Aristides McGarry and Robyn Boardman. Editor was Robert Duffy.
Clive Owen, this time in a BMW series-5 car, must protect a Chinese leader (Mason Lee) from thugs and those from within his own camp. Click on the image below to play the Chosen video in YouTube (HD)
Chosen was written by David Carter, and directed by Ang Lee via Anonymous Content, with director of photography Frederick Elmes, producers Aristides McGarry and Robyn Boardman. Editor was Tim Squyres. Music was composed by Mychael Danna.
Clive Owen’s character is hired by Forest Whitaker to follow the wife (Adriana Lima) of a film star (Mickey Rourke). The spot features the BMW Z3 and 3-series, and a poignant insight into domestic violence. Click on the image below to play the Follow video in YouTube (HD)
The Follow was written by Andrew Kevin Walker, directed by Wong Kar-Wai (WKW) via Anonymous Content, with director of photography Harris Savides, producers Aristides McGarry and Robert Van de Wetteringe Buys.
The Driver is hired by Glen (Michael Beattie), a rock star’s manager, to teach an obnoxious celebrity (Madonna) a lesson in his BMW M5. To the sounds of Blur’s track, Woohoo, Owen takes Madonna on a screaming twisting tour of the city – a tour made even more interesting by her neglecting to put on her seatbelt. Paparazzi at her venue are stunned to see her without sunglasses. And is the state of her red pants due to that cup of coffee or not? Click on the image below to play the Star video in YouTube (HD)
Star was written by Guy Ritchie and Joe Sweet, directed by Guy Ritchie via Anonymous Content, with director of photography Chris Soos, producers Aristides McGarry and Robyn Boardman. Editor was Tom Muldoon.
It’s January 2001. Times war photographer Harvey Jacobs (Stellan Skarsgård) is wounded after witnessing a massacre at Nuevo Colón, Colombia. The United Nations send a vehicle, the BMW X5, to get him out. The driver must get Jacobs and his story across the border. Jacobs’ blind mother is played by Lois Smith. Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube (HD)
Powder Keg was written by David Carter, Guillermo Arriaga and Alejandro González Iñárritu (director) and produced via Anonymous Content, Los Angeles, and Zeta Films, Mexico, with director of photography Robert Richardson, producers Aristides McGarry, Tapas Blank and Robyn Boardman. Editors were Luis Carvallar, Gabriel Rodriguez and Iñárritu.
Season 2 Films
Clive Owen’s character works with the FBI to find missing burger chain executive Linda Dellacroix (Kathryn Morris). Cryptic clues are provided by kidnapper Harry Von Gardner (Maury Chaykin), a previous employee of Linda’s company who’s playing a psychotic game. The driver races in his his BMW Z4 to locate the woman locked in the trunk of an abandoned car somewhere on the water’s edge. Linked to her only by cell phone, the driver narrows in on her location in a desperate race against time and tide. Click on the image below to play the Hostage video in YouTube (HD)
Hostage was written by David Carter, Greg Hahn and Vincent Ngo, directed by John Woo via RSA Films, with director of photography Jeffrey Kimball, executive producers Jules Daly, Ridley and Tony Scott, co-executive producers Brian DiLorenzo and Philip Steuer, producer Tony McGarry, co producer Arthur Anderson. Original music was by Steve Jablonsky.
The Driver is commissioned to transport a passenger (Don Cheadle) with a precious package containing the heart needed to save the life of a great African leader. Click on the image below to play the Ticker video in YouTube (HD)
Ticker was written by Joe Sweet and Joe Carnahan (director), via RSA Films, with director of photography Mauro Fiore, executive producers David Fincher, Jules Daly, Ridley and Tony Scott, co-executive producers Brian DiLorenzo and Philip Steuer, producer Leon Corcos. Editor was John Gilroy. Original music was by Clint Mansell.
Beat the Devil
The Driver is commissioned to help James Brown (himself) get a new lease of life by doing a deal with the Devil (Gary Oldman). Also appearing is Marilyn Manson as himself. Click on the image below to play the Beat The Devil video in YouTube (HD)
Beat The Devil was written by David Carter and Greg Hahn, directed by Tony Scott via RSA Films, with director of photography Paul Cameron, executive producers David Fincher, Jules Daly, Ridley and Tony Scott, co-executive producers Brian DiLorenzo and Philip Steuer, producer David Mitchell. Editor was Skip Chaisson. Original music was by Harry Gregson-Williams.
The good news is that we can order the DVD with all the films for the cost of postage only. After Friday, if you want to see the BMW films online, you’ll need to browse around the sites advertising agency Fallon and film production companies such as Anonymous Content and RSA Films.
In 2002, The Hire was awarded the Cannes International Advertising Festival’s Cyber Lion Grand Prix prize. The series was inducted into the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Additional accolades include WIRED magazine’s 2001 “Best Excuse for Broadband” award; and, in 2002, John Woo’s episode, “Hostage,” won the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival’s “Best Action Short” award.
The BMW Films were produced in a collector’s edition on DVD, free for the asking for a limited time only. They’re now available in online auctions such as eBay. Since the ads have been withdrawn from the BMW site, they’ve appeared in viral form on YouTube and other video sites, often removed after complaints from holders of the copyright. Since BMW split with Fallon in 2007 the series has come back online at www.thehire.tv and is currently allowed to stay on YouTube.