Get the latest tutorials and stories!

MINI Driving Experience

Shooting at the MINI Driving Experience

In 2019, I was invited down to the BMW Performance Center to capture all the action, and in November of 2020, I was invited once again to South Carolina. But this wouldn’t be a shoot for Roundel badges. This time, it’s MINI!

This was a shoot unlike any other, so the post this week will be in question and answer format to try and break it down better. Part 1 now, part 2 next week!

How many days was the MINI shoot?

You mean hours? While a location like this would normally require at least 2 full days, I had just five hours to capture rollers, instructors, static shots and interior details. The short time frame was due to COVID, but we’d be outside and overall very safe.

MINI-john-cooper-works-convertible
We drove around the entire track to ensure I covered all the lighting angles.

So wait, you flew down and back, and shot, all in one day?

Days like this are where loving your job are a requirement. Up at 4AM for an hour drive to Philadelphia airport, then down to South Carolina. Arrive at 11AM, shoot for 5 hours, and then head home. No direct flights home though, so it was just about a 20 hour day.

How do you prepare for a shoot like this?

Three things gave me an advantage:

  1. I know the location very well.
  2. I’d have pro driving instructors helping me out. And I do mean pro.
  3. I’d have some logistics guys prepping MINIs I had pre-selected from their inventory.
MINI-john-cooper-works
Here’s Matt getting about as close as possible to the back of the X5.

What’s it like working with pro drivers?

In short, amazing. They can place the car on a dime, consistently for multiple takes. And they do it with a smile.

I worked with Matt (a stunt driver for movies like Ford vs Ferrari, among many others), and Laura, who just happens to race for Thunder Bunny Racing…as a hobby.

Both work as instructors at the MINI Driving Experience, and BMW Performance Driving School.

These are serious people at serious speed, so when shooting, you have to be totally prepared.

MINI-jcw-direction
Me, telling the instructors how to drive. But really, everyone being on the same page is crucial, so time is not wasted.

Speed? How fast did you actually go?

On a public road, without safety gear or a properly trained driver, I don’t like to go above 50 mph (and that’s pushing it).

But here, I’m on a closed course, and my camera car is a BMW X5 M50i. Some of these shots were taken at 80 mph, with me shooting out the back.

We’d also have walkie-talkies to help communicate, and a clear plan as to what I was trying to capture in that particular shot.

What gear did you pack?

I did not want to pack and check my usual SKB hard shell case, and I wouldn’t need my Ice Light, so I carried just the basics. My Nikon Z7, two lenses, and a mini, lighter Manfrotto tripod. As always, a few extra batteries, an extra QXD card and a smile. That’s it.

Do you ever get too close?

You’ll see! Stay tuned for part two next week!

Special thanks to RITTA for booking me! Also thanks to the MINI Driving Experience for having me down, along with Matt, Laura and the rest of the crew!

Legal

Due to factors beyond the control of Machines With Souls LLC and Mike D’Ambrosio, I cannot guarantee against improper use or unauthorized modifications of this information. Machines With Souls LLC and Mike D’Ambrosio assumes no liability for property damage or injury incurred as a result of any of the information contained in this post. Use this information at your own risk. Machines With Souls LLC and Mike D’Ambrosio recommends safe practices when working on vehicles and or with tools seen or implied in this post.

Due to factors beyond the control of Machines With Souls LLC and Mike D’Ambrosio, no information contained in this post shall create any expressed or implied warranty or guarantee of any particular result. Any injury, damage, or loss that may result from improper use of these tools, equipment, or from the information contained in this post is the sole responsibility of the user and not Machines With Souls LLC or Mike D’Ambrosio.

One thought on “Shooting at the MINI Driving Experience

Comments are closed.