Three world-class racing drivers shrug off a crash and exit their wrecked cars, embarking on a fantastical, globe-hopping dash to the finish line in Formula E's epic promo for season 8 of its electric motorsports series.
Dubbed "No Turning Back," the three-minute film from creative studio Uncommon follows Sam Bird, António Félix Da Costa and Pascal Wehrlein through cities that host Formula E competitions, such as New York, Seoul, Monaco and London. (Stuntmen portray the drivers.)
The helmeted, leather-clad trio resemble astronauts—or outcasts from Daft Punk. They explore weird dimensions, and each frame crackles with surreal action and unexpected imagery.
There's a James Bond spoof and an eerie backstage take on Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. At one point, Da Costa gallops off on a police horse. In the end, however, he arrives back at the racetrack on foot, tearing toward the checkered flag amid snarling motors and shrieking tires.
It's all suitably ... electrifying, though busy at times, with dizzying scene shifts punctuated by news reports on global warming.
"The story of the drivers who won't give up no matter what's put in front of them is a metaphor for Formula E itself," Uncommon executive creative director Sam Walker, who also directed the ad, tells Muse. "There have been a lot of naysayers and people who'd like to see the sport fail and the world stay the way it is. But it keeps getting stronger and stronger each year no matter what obstacles it is faced with. Climate change is real and the move to electric must be relentless. There can be no turning back."
His team employed the "Unreal" CGI software program—a staple of video-game development—to create the racing sequences, while an IRL track with a full-sized crashed car mock-up also appears.
"In most racing films, the crash is the climax," Walker says. "I wanted to start in the middle of the action, and then shock the audience with a huge crash that would almost certainly be the end of the drivers' race. Showing the crash was a break with motor racing convention—and huge credit to Formula E for trusting in the idea."
"But then, what if the drivers kept going on foot? What else could we put in their way?" he says. "One of the unique features of Formula E is that all of their races drive right through the middle of cities around the world, so this seemed like the perfect story."
The campaign launches this week across TV, cinema digital and social in the U.S. and Europe. Channel 4 in the UK will air all 16 Formula E races live on its various platforms.
Project Name: "No Turning Back"
Creative Studio: Uncommon
Client: Formula E
Chief Marketing Officer: Henry Chilcott
Marketing Director: Alex Aidan
Senior Marketing Manager: Catherine McCartan
Production Company: Pulse Films
Director: Sam Walker
Editor: Joe Guest/ Final Cut
Pulse Producer: David French
Pulse Executive Producer: Lucy Kelly
Production Manager: Kishan Patel
Editing Company Producer: Nikki Porter
DOP: Stuart Bentley
Creative Consultant: Alex Barber
Post Production Company: Rascal Post
Grade & Colourist: James Bamford
VFX Supervisors: Andrew "Barnsley" Wood and Russell Tickner
Lead 3D: Russell Tickner
Lead 2D: Andrew "Barnsley" Wood
2D: Ben Stonehouse, Rich De Carteret, Paul Wilmot, James Corden
AFX: Matt Osborne
Online: Holly McLean
Rascal Executive Producer: James Beck
Music Title: Fast Charged
Composed by Joel Hartman & Luis Almau
Published by Soundtree Music Publishing Limited
Master Controlled by Soundtree Music Limited
Audio Post Production: Jack Sedgwick/King Lear
Service Production Company: Radioaktive
Service Production Company Producer: Olya Kosenko
Media Agency: MediaHub
Media Planner: James Green, Edore Evuarherhe