Although the all new GLK small SUV isn’t scheduled to hit dealers until October 2008 (January 2009 for the U.S.), the opportunity for a vehicle to be showcased in a scene of the summer’s hottest film, Sex and the City, was too good to pass up. It was however, quite challenging to secure an early release from the prototype vault at the Stuttgart factory.
Having not made its debut prior to the shoot on Rodeo Drive, the vehicle had to travel to the US in a cloak of secrecy. Accompanied by a designated Mercedes-Benz representative from Germany, there were many steps taken to protect the visual identity of the beautiful prototype from the outside world. Even the key which opened a tamper-proof container holding the car was locked away in a safe place and only accessible by one security personnel!
Interview after the break
The GLK arrived in Long Beach California just days before shooting and was transported to Beverly Hills and kept secret until the cast and crew were ready for the scene. Given that the car had to sit on a public street, security had their hands full keeping the car under wraps until the scene was ready.
Finally, when the shoot was over, the same security personnel responsible for handling the container upon its arrival, was the only person who could lock it back up on its return trip to Germany.
Prepping the vehicle for the scene on Rodeo Drive
Nothing in Hollywood is left to chance, and every aspect of filmmaking is perfectly prepared, reviewed, and double checked to ensure that the scenes are absolutely perfect. For the Rodeo Drive shoot the set design and inclusion of the GLK were no exception. In the short weeks leading up to the scheduled shoot, costume designer Patricia Field recommended the color of the car match the rest of the set design. Since the car was originally black, the paint shop at the factory had to work their own magic in order to repaint the entire vehicle, as most of the car parts on prototypes are unique, handmade and not available in large quantities the way they are on traditional assembly line vehicles.
As it was, the car arrived in the US without its side mirrors, and had to have them attached at the Mercedes-Benz Long Beach Tech Center the night before the shoot. While this doesn’t sound complicated, side mirrors on prototypes cannot just be screwed into the doors, but instead need to be adjusted in a very meticulous process.
Security for the GLK
Because the design and entire shape of the vehicle had never been exposed to the public before, and was scheduled for its first public debut at the NAIAS Detroit Motor Show 3 weeks later, the vehicle require high security at all times. Therefore, there was a team of 12 security guards whose job it was to prevent photos from being taken by bystanders and the press. Camouflage was placed over the dash to prevent images of the interior from being taken.
To visually protect the car as much as possible, the shoot was scheduled for 6 am on a Sunday morning on Rodeo Drive. Despite their best efforts, all bets were off once the paparazzi arrived. At one point, in the middle of the shoot, one of the security guards and three deputy sheriffs had to grab the cover of the vehicle and jump into the middle of the scene in order to shield it from paparazzi cameras. Additionally, a photographer was spotted lying on the roof of a hotel across the street with a telephoto lens focusing in on the scene. Even though a photo was leaked to the internet just a few hours later, it was an incredible effort by the security team to protect the privacy of the car. Keeping a high profile car secret when it is exposed to the pubic for the first time is hard enough. Add that to an association with a high profile film shoot, and sneak peaks are bound to get out.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
When watching the film, it may seem that the scene featuring Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week actually happened during the event itself, but it wasn’t that easy. With the permission of M-B and IMG, Production was given the original Sept., 2007 Fashion Week tent, sets, props, graphics, etc. so they could re-create the event for this scene of the film. This was as challenging for the film production team as getting the GLK prototype out of the factory was for Mercedes-Benz: Its hard to imagine how many things need to be orchestrated and how many people need to be involved to recreate such an event in New York for a movie scene. It took approximately 36 hours and plenty of explanation to the many New Yorkers who were surprised to see the tent being constructed in November (Fashion Week season is normally in September and February). The Mercedes-Benz SLR Roadster display alone took 12 hours to rebuild. It was amazing to watch a film set with more than 200 people, each with their own assignment, get the scene shot – from the caterer serving a hungry crew, to the director watching every single detail in order to have the perfect sequence locked in. Mercedes-Benz was even given 7 “extra” spots and engaged their employees in a small contest to win one of these 7 walk-on spots. While the lucky winners were on set for 14 hours on the day of their shoot, they were treated like true VIP’s, had their hair and makeup done, and were made to feel like real movie stars.
Mercedes-Benz Manhattan dealership
In another scene, the outside of the Manhattan Mercedes-Benz dealership was used for filming. The dealership allowed the production crew to disguise the outside of the dealership to look like a night club by covering their side windows in a red film. When you see the movie you won’t be able to tell that this is usually a Mercedes-Benz car dealership.
The filming of the GLK scene on Rodeo Dr. took approximately 7 hours to shoot. The 7 hours of work will eventually become only 2 minutes of time in the final cut of the film. It is easy to understand how a 2-hour movie can take over 100 days to shoot.
Interview with Kim Cattrall
I: Kim, I heard that in the new ‘Sex and the City’ movie there’s gonna be a Mercedes involved which nobody saw yet.
C: Yes, when we were filming with my co-star – it was the GLK Mercedes SUV – there were so many photographers in Beverly Hills and there have been very many photographers in New York. When we were filming.I thought, there’s all these photographers, I felt so proud and happy, but they weren’t interested in me, they were interested in the new Mercedes GLK. They were all trying to photograph the dashboard, which was completely new, so they would have the first photograph – so I was upstaged by the Mercedes car (laughing).
I: By the car! (laughs)
C: Exactly, a newer model, I guess (laughing).
I: Do you drive a Mercedes in your private life?
C: I just ordered an SL. I’ve had a romantic love affair with a Mercedes for a very long time, especially when I was a struggling actress – but now I am so happy that I am successful enough to own one myself.
I: And why is it the Mercedes – that you like so much, is it because of the style, or is it the technical details?
C: You know, I think that the Mercedes is made by very, very smart, passionate people. I’ve been playing this very passionate character for a very long time – I think it goes very well hand in hand, with me as a person and with me as an actor. I also very much like something that has that steel around me, I feel very, very safe in it and I live in New York where we have a lot of weather conditions. It’s not like sunny California. So it put a lot of demands on the car that you drive, I feel very happy and safe.