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May 06, 2008

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Mercedes-Benz Thoughts on Sex and the City

Stuttgart - 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!

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 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.

Photos: Mercedes-Benz

(Apr 25, 2008)


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