“Ballerina” is the latest film created by Antoni Garage and directed by Francisco Sendino for the luxury automaker’s iconic SUV model.
In Mercedes Benz’s latest spot, directed by AKKURAT Studios’ Francisco Sendino for Antoni Garage, the film opens treating viewers to a beautiful ballet performance. It’s not long before the dance transitions and takes everyone on an exciting, wild ride. It’s all part of the campaign’s story in paying homage to the luxury brand’s G-Class off-roader and its most iconic interior feature that’s been adorning the vehicle for 42 years – the grab handle bar. Starring professional ballerina Lia Kemendi, the humorous new 40 second film proves that the slogan “Nothing holds like the G-Class” really does in fact, hold true.
Award-winning director Francisco Sendino seamlessly juxtaposes elegant and graceful dance frames with a powerful and thrilling off-road experience. The idea was for the film to be a comedic analogy between two “handle bars.” As the ballerina trains in her studio, her forceful interaction – first with the breaking of her ballet barre and then with the gripping of the handle bar in the car – demonstrates the Mercedes Benz G-Class feature’s indestructibility compared to the endurance of a normal object. The ballet barre handrail shifts to that of the automobile’s grab handle bar – its co-driver clinging on as the SUV soars over sandy, bumpy, dirt hill terrain. It’s a playful contrast between two dynamic dexterities: dancing and driving.
“The breaking and crumbling of the ballet bar you see in the commercial is real,” explains AKKURAT Studios’ director Francisco Sendino. “Together with my production designer and an SFX team, we meticulously designed the object and tested its breaking ability multiple times to set the right explosive power when our ballerina Lia Kemendi tears it out. We only had two tries available to rip that bar off the wall. During the first try, it only came off halfway. The second and last try is the one you can see in the film. There was quite some pressure on our dancer, but she was extremely confident and teared it out like a pro.”
Shot in Germany, the film utilized two locations. The renowned König Galerie in Berlin served as the dancer’s studio. A dirt quarry located two hours from the German capital provided the perfect backdrop for the G-Class driver’s off-road adventure.
Says Sendino of selecting the film’s locations, “I already had a space in mind when creating the treatment for this film, and that was the König Galerie. It’s one of the city’s most iconic spots and is a former brutalist church that’s been converted into a contemporary art space. We got really lucky in being able to shoot inside it. I wanted the ballet scene of the film to take place inside an abstract location with full focus on the ballerina and the breaking of the barre, so I created the “ballet barre cube” you see in the spot. I didn’t want to go for that more fancy, typical “Black Swan”-like ballet studio with mirrors and barres. The aim was for contemporary and clean. The dance style also needed to reflect a mix between classical ballet and modern dance, very impulsive and of-the-moment. It had to fit just right with the brutalist modern architecture and let our ballerina appear even stronger.”
“We shot most of the dynamic dance parts with a steady cam,” shares Sendino. “For my DP and me, it just made sense to create that feeling of floating with the ballerina. Working on a tight schedule made it possible to quickly get the best and most dynamic angles and moves.”
The biggest challenge for the production was to shoot the ballet and the car scenes in one short winter day with almost no sunlight. “The art gallery looks best in its natural light due to dazzling shadows it receives through its big glass ceiling during the daytime,” reveals Sendino.
Needing sunlight for the car scenes, the team shot those first in the early morning and as they prepared for darkness to fall, the other half of the team was building up the ballet barre structure and the light set-up inside the gallery so that shooting could immediately begin upon return from the quarry.
“Ballerina” is the second film of a new online series by Mercedes Benz showcasing the one-of-a-kind features of its SUV, following the first one called ‘Milk’ that was released last fall. The newest spot is now running worldwide and can be seen across all social media platforms.
Advertising Agency: antoni garage GmbH / Co. KG
Managing Director: Daniel Dürbeck / Marcell Francke / Tilman Gossner
Client Service Director: Daniel Dürbeck
Account Director: Marica Pignatelli
Account Manager: Roman Zeitz
Executive Creative Director: Tilman Gossner / Marcell Francke
Creative Director: Christoph Hoene / Christian Kies
Art Director: Tim Grötzinger
Copywriter: David Kaufmann / Daniel Duhn
Script Development: David Kaufmann / Daniel Duhn
Producer: Sandra Stüker
Production Company: AKKURAT Studios
Managing Director: Dagmar Garber / Rocco Kopecny / Andreas Roth
Executive Producer Dagmar Garber / Rocco Kopecny/ Andreas Roth
Director: Francisco Sendino
DOP: Moritz Matlik
Post-production Supervisor: Carola Schimpf
Location Manager: AKKURAT Studios GmbH
Editor: David Gesslbauer
VFX Supervision/Lead Flame: Storz&Escherich
Flame and Nuke Artists: Storz&Escherich
VFX Editor: Storz&Escherich
Lead, Sr. Artist 3D/Compositing: Storz&Escherich
VFX Onhouse Producer: Storz&Escherich
Sound Engineer: Moritz Staub
Sound Design: Staub Audio GmbH
Colorist: a52, Daniel de Vue
Music Coordinator: 2WEI Music GmbH
Music by: 2WEI Music GmbH
Publisher: Edition HVL
Talent: Lia Kemendi