Exclusively for USLOT Newsletter subscribers – Lotus Motorsport and Drive Programme Manager Stewart Croucher shares his experience of making the new Lotus brand film.
“Who needs the sun? The question I asked myself a lot, as we were stood in the rain in Wales.
The week of the 21st-25th July saw us record the latest brand film for Lotus. A well-planned shoot of video and stills, that despite the weather was completed with great success.
On the Tuesday a team of 4 drivers convoyed an Elise 220, Exige 430, Evora 410 Sport and a Support Volvo to Betws-y-Coed in North Wales. Being the nice guy that I am, I drove the Exige 430, the stiffened suspension was not an issue and I got out of the car 4.5hrs later having had an enjoyable drive.
Our drive did see us all tiptoe through a village that was being resurfaced and was covered in raised grids and stones. As advertising, it was a positive as I think every shop keeper and pedestrian came out to watch 3 brightly coloured cars slalom drains and grids. The rest of the trip saw us on winding country roads where the cars were made to be. Lots of smiling faces when we arrived at the Hotel.
After meeting the film crew including the Russian Arm team (more on that later) it was a quick bite to eat and bed as we had to be on location by 5am.
“Not sure what you’re complaining about!” I can almost hear you saying, “Filming is so glamorous…”. Well it might be for some but not for us! A layby at the base of a mountain, heavy rain, windy and no shelter but the cars.
But being British we carried on. The days saw us on more country roads, although this time with temporary closures. Lots of close driving being filmed in groups and solo, from all angles, meant a lot of trust was required from all.
With the weather fluctuating it meant a lot of wiping down wet cars with wet rags so that the shot could be taken. Typical of the filming and photographing the director wanted just one last shot. So, at 21:15 with the light fading it was a wrap.
My best shot of the day was actually the one with the most trickery. It was me at 5 mph coasting up and down hill with a 3-metre tripod attached to the car inches away from a cliff face and stone wall. The shot also saw me sitting still pretending to drive. The outcome was a still shot that looks like I am doing 70 MPH up a mountain.
After a few hours sleep we were back in the same layby, this time we were joined by the Classic team lotus race transporter who had brought us some more cars to enjoy.
After a bacon roll and a warm coffee (it had travelled 20 minutes to get to us) we realised the rain was not stopping so it was all in the back of the truck, to plan. The truck gave us the cover we needed to shoot some interior shots, again trickery being undertaken. We did manage to get some other shots done, which involved a lot of turning in narrow roads. For those of you who have driven an Exige you will know this isn’t quick.
As the morning went on, we sent a scout out for some sunshine and he found some just 10 minutes down the road, so off we set.
This location move brought on the shots we had all been waiting for. The Heritage shot! Thanks to Malcom Rickett, Johnathan Hackford and Barrie Cornes, all Lotus fans. We had borrowed 3 lovely cars and Elise S1, Elan Sprint and Esprit S1 (bond spec).
These cars were to have a small support role in the film. All 3 drivers were fighting to drive them all, as they brought back memories of our time with Lotus. For me to S1 Elise was the first Lotus I ever drove, having been at work with my father when the prototype was testing. Chris one of our drivers used to be a Formula 1 technician for Lotus for Senna and was so in love with the Esprit. ED our third driver has raced many cars including Elan’s therefore the Elan brought him lots of fun memories.
A story about the Elan, Malcolm brought it new in the early 70’s and paid an additional £18 to have it all red.
An additional thanks has to go to Jim Estall, who offered us his beautiful Elan, which we were due to take but due to a logistical issue had to swap for Malcolm’s.
The final day was our best, the weather was great we had moved to the base of Snowdon and the roads were closed for us. We managed to get all of our shot list completed, including a great drone shot across the water chasing the cars.
Avoiding the flock of sheep that entered the road with their shepherd, this left only one thing to do… JOUST! Yes, you heard me correct. I mentioned earlier the Russian arm, a camera rig mounted to a heavy truck that can chase you, lead you and in fact overtake whilst the camera spins to capture the next shot. It can also Joust, which means drive towards you at speed whilst you drive at it and apparently get amazing film footage.
I have been involved in many film shoots in my life, but I have to say I can’t wait to see the final version.”